Oh, we’re back baby.
What a first week back. Monday was a blur of teaching prep, the usual start of week meetings and catch-ups, and then in the evening the first virtual governors meeting of the year for one of the Schools I’m involved with.
Tuesday was when the semester really kicked off with the first online teaching session of the year. I had a lot of pre-game nerves for some reason, which is unusual. It got so bad that I had to stop work on Tuesday morning and go out for a run across the barrage and back just to get rid of some of the energy. The teaching session itself was fantastic though; the students were engaged and interactive, the activities went well, and everyone loved Bennie (of course).
On Wednesday it was my first small in-person session; we had our first ‘lab’ with the CompJ students, and we really got to use the new building for the first time. We all met up in one of the seminar rooms, set them a task, then sent them off to work somewhere else in the building. We could then wander between the different collaboration spaces meeting with the teams and making sure all was well. It worked beautifully - exactly the kind of dynamic, flexible and collaborative teaching the building was designed for.
Thursday was the real highlight - in person teaching with a much larger group of students, back in what has been my teaching ‘home’ for the last few years: The Turing Suite in the Data Science Academy space in Queens. It was lovely to be in a big flat active space with students again, and they rose to my challenge (‘recreate the Cardiff University homepage in an hour and a half after only a few days teaching in HTML & CSS’) with great enthusiasm. It was also nice to see a lot of my TA colleagues in person again for the first time in 18 months, and to meet one of our TAs who I’ve previously only met through Zoom/Teams.
Interestingly one of the students approached me after the session to ask what the point of the session was. They explained that they were a ‘beginner at web things’, and they’d expected to come to the session to be taught HTML and CSS, and hadn’t expected to spend a couple of hours working with others to actually create a website. I think it partially means I’d not done a good job at explaining the structure of the week and the session, so there’s a ‘note for next time’, but also partially speaks to a perception some students have that unless there is someone stood at the front ‘imparting wisdom’ then whatever is happening in the classroom isn’t ‘teaching’. I talked them through everything that had happened this week:
- Monday I’d given them several pages of notes to read, some links to tutorials to look at, and some videos explaining the theory for them to look at during the week
- Tuesday we’d met up online, done a lot of Q&A, I’d done some live coding demos, then re-introduced the notes and self-study exercises.
- Wednesday having asked students to send me their outputs from the self-study exercises once they completed them, I spent a couple of hours responding and providing feedback where there was something I could comment on
- Thursday we’d got together in person and I’d gone through some group feedback on the exercises, then set them a group challenge to work together to put everything they’d seen this week into practice. This was purposefully a hard task to get them to discuss the ideas, seek out further information, and start learning how to expand their core knowledge themselves, with their peers (and with myself and the TAs as backup for when they got really stuck)
Each one of these things is an important part of the ‘teaching’, and I would estimate it all adds up to at least 15 hours of ‘learning’ for the students over the week (and that’s only for my part of the module). Somehow though, because I spent only ten minutes actually stood in front of them talking, it’s not ‘teaching’?
More work to do then on the expectation setting and explaining the process…
riding or running or that
Did Parkrun at Grangemoor on Saturday, took a minute off my last time there. Still some way off a PB, but the fitness is improving
Tried a new version of the ‘old’ commute. As suspected getting through the city centre is tiresome, but it was still ten minutes quicker
Oh my heart. LOVE THIS