Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A blogging community forming?

Last night, after I read 2 or 3 blog posts by the new TAs I am working with, I felt a palpable sense of relief. I could see them thinking through the challenges of teaching, and I could see them coming to insights (read yesterday's entry for more details).

Tonight, I went to Bloglines and there were 7 new entries--I was pumped, and enjoyed reading all of them. Chester followed up the dream talk with his epic dream of leading troops / students across the Alps, just like Hannibal. Meghan and Jenny both had great insights about not trying to do too much. DS found that Klosterman woke his students up--a good thing--but wondered: has he woken them up for the right reasons? KD is worried about how her students are perceiving her; she is wondering if they believe what she is saying. I remember those doubts, and I remember actually not knowing what I was saying, my first few years of teaching. I might be missing one or two entries here, but overall, reading their entries really helps me feel in touch with how their teaching is going, and while none would say "perfectly," all are doing quite well for the first semester.

I was saying to Betsy the other day that having 10 new TAs does make me nervous; I don't know if I can give all of them the individual feedback that would probably help them more than general discussions of teaching. The first time I taught the course, there were 12 new TAs, and a few were struggling in ways that I didn't realize until too late. Last year there were only 4 new TAs, and the semester went quite smoothly. How d'ya like that: teacher-student ratio probably makes a difference. Well I don't want to sound like some pie-in-the-sky technophile, I do think encouraging everybody to blog might be one way I can give more individualized feedback. And, if this isn't being similarly overly adjectively optimistic, I bet that a lot of them will figure out ways to improve their teaching via blogging--I think I see it happening already.

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