When I got a job a year ago, I decided not to quit teaching, but just to “ease up” a little bit. So, I taught the lab (BIO102) my regular 4-5 times per year on Saturday mornings, but took a break in teaching the lectures (BIO101). I have been teaching introductory biology at NC Wesleyan College for eight years now, in adult education on their Triangle campus.
Last week I finished teaching – both lecture and lab again – and turned in the grades this morning. I have to say that it has been nicer and nicer teaching there over the years. I think the students are getting better and better (who knows, perhaps I am getting better as well). I realize that they all have jobs and families, many are parents, some single parents. They need a diploma in order to get a promotion at work. They major in business, etc., and are generally scared of science. But fewer and fewer try to use their Real Life as an excuse to miss class or beg for a higher grade. And, I tend to teach in a way that will make it relevant to them and at least somewhat interesting. This time we really had fun and I turned in the best grades to date. They just did very well. Even their PPT talks were unusually good for this class.
Previously, I used a blog as a repository of my class notes, to save the trees. But this time, I used the class blog in part for homework – they posted links to biology-related articles and videos in the comments and we (when we had time) discussed those in class.
When I started teaching, I tried to do a lot of in-class discussion but that did not work very well, so I switched to a more direct, lecture approach. Now, the students are asking for more discussion and less lecturing. And the way the student body has been improving lately, I will try to do so next time I teach.