Setting Priorities for the Last Few Weeks
Believe it or not, there are only two and a half more weeks of regular classes left in this semester. With days off for holidays toward the end of the term, sometimes the fall semester can feel like a long climb followed by a steep downward slope to finals week.
Whether it’s a class session or a whole term, when we feel like we’re running out of time to teach, it can be tempting to speed up the pace of the class in a scramble to fit in as much content as possible before we part ways with our students. But this time of year, students are usually inundated with projects and exams, so their capacity for processing loads of new material is limited.
At any point in the semester, we know that the more content we try to race through, the less students actually learn. To learn deeply, they need opportunities to think, to analyze, to apply concepts, and to develop skills through practice and feedback.
So instead, when we feel time running short, we can prioritize. What are the most important learning goals? How did you hope students would grow intellectually, professionally, and personally because they took your course? What is most important to talk about, to do, and to work on in the final weeks, so that students have the best chance of accomplishing those goals?
You may also be giving a lot of feedback at this point in the semester, and going back to the goals and priorities can be helpful with that, too. For example, if you are writing comments on students’ projects, it’s helpful to remember that they cannot learn everything we hope to teach them in feedback on one paper or one presentation. If we give too much feedback, they may not be able to process it all, or know what is most important to improve in their next attempt. So, again, we have to prioritize. We can ask, what did I most want them to learn from doing this project? And we can align our feedback with the priorities: We can comment on the most important goals students have accomplished, and the most important things they should work to improve. This way we can make the most of our precious resources: our time and students’ attention.
If you’d like support as you set priorities for the end of the semester, or help giving targeted feedback on student work, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you!
Thursday, Nov. 18th | 5:00–TBD | Lucilla
We hope you’ll join us at our first CAT happy hour, to enjoy the fellowship of colleagues from across the university. We’ve reserved the patio (which has a fire pit, so we can be outdoors regardless of temperature) at Lucilla, at 1241 E. Lafayette Street. Drinks and snacks will be available for purchase, but you can come just for the company. We look forward to seeing you!