Tuesday Teaching Talk

Tuesday Teaching Talk is a regular feature which, as the name implies, is an opportunity to talk explicitly about teaching (and learning) in the practical and philosophical sense that happens on, you guessed it, Tuesday. It could be a question, an article or a tip to name a few options.

Today is the penultimate full CAST meeting of the semester and my penultimate as coordinator.  I’ve included the agenda below (including a link to the draft of the revised CAST charter) in case you missed the e-mail.  Also, next week is our 2nd Technology Tools of the Trade.  Expect some more info on that very soon.  Also look out for the rescheduling of our extended Technology Tools of the Trade event.  Finally, think about who you’d like to nominate to be the next coordinator of CAST.  The nomination form will be making its way around in paper and electronically by the end of the week or early next week at the latest.

1.  Approve minutes
2.  Reports from Subgroups
3.  Room 1046 updates
4.  Revised Charter (and approval?)
5.  Nominations for Coordinator and election
6.  The remaining events for this semester
7.  Other business

NOW for today’s Tuesday Teaching Talk.

With the last day for student initiated withdrawal less than a week away, this is the time when my office hours become much more popular.  Maybe you have the same experience.  I have no way of knowing unless I share an office with you.  How do you handle the “should I drop” question?  Also, since much of our teaching is informed by our lives as students, did you ever find yourself in the “should I drop” situation?  This may be a bit more personal than you want to get on a Tuesday but I figured I’d ask.  I’ll start the ball rolling if you’d humor me.
1.  In H.S. I was enrolled in Spanish 4 (the highest Spanish course offered) my senior year.  After a week, I was faced with a dilemma. The teacher and course were very challenging.  I knew from the first week and from the word on the street.  I already had a difficult course load and lunch only every other day due to 2 period Calc.  Also, I was student-directing the fall play, planning to star in the musical, shooting for the school paper, etc.  I made the decision to drop the class and have regretted the decision ever since (not that I’ve lost any sleep over it).  I don’t regret it inasmuch as think I would have been that much more fluent in Spanish.  I do regret not being able to participate in the inside jokes of my friends who stuck around.  I regret taking the easy way out for the sake of balance but also keeping up my GPA (a major motivator back then).

2.  In college, I was toying with the idea of double majoring in Math and Physics.  I decided to talk the non-calc based physics because it fit into my schedule better, though not really. This was a big mistake.  I despised the class and the professor.  I also despised the time, M, W and F mornings, if I recall..  Needless to say, I was not a model student and found myself with a shamefully low grade mostly due to my negligence.  When faced with the decision to drop or not drop, I stuck around knowing and took what I deserved.  It was an important moment in my college career.  I learned that physics wasn’t for me and that I needed to work at things that didn’t come naturally a bit more than I was.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to getting personal on this brisk, likely rainy, Tuesday.

One thought on “Tuesday Teaching Talk

  1. Hi mathisisexy,
    A darn good question at an absolutely darn good time.
    First, I would like it very much if more students came forward to declare their intent to drop instead of withdrawing or simply not showin’ up to class. It always pains me to see the ADW on my roster, but it causes more pain when I have to submit a non-passing grade for a student who failed to show up for the last month of class.

    Second, when a student comes forward and declares their intent to drop, I usually ask why and I never take it personally because, as you stated with your own personal experience, these students know what they want to do. I do explain the effect of withdrawing from a course (possible need to retake and financial aid effect) and if they’ve considered making an effort to complete since they are so close to finishing, but not with an intent to change their mind.
    I believe the best decision they can make is an informed decision and all we can (and possible should) do is present options so they can be positioned to make calculated decisions in the future.

    Buen fin de semester, mathessexy.

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