This post could be labeled Part 1 of 873 but I don’t have that much time.
Here is the back story … I decided to teach a more or less introductory statistics class this semester because we make educational games and I think it is important to be in the classroom. Now I know students who are in their first semester of graduate school are not exactly like eighth-graders, but they are closer than students taking their last course in a masters in engineering program, which is what I normally teach.
So … two months before the course starts, I email the university and ask about my contract. They say they are late getting them out. I go ahead and download some data sets, start thinking of ideas for assignments to make statistics “real” to the students, examples from data sets they can find relevant. I read through the latest edition of the textbook, make sure the statistical software I want to use is available. Create a YouTube channel and make some videos.
Two WEEKS before the course is supposed to start I still don’t have a contract and no access to the course website (did I mention this is an online course?). I write the first five lectures, mostly just updated from when I have taught this before. Four DAYS before the course is supposed to start I find out that someone in administration has decided that professors will not be able to edit anything on their courses except for the discussion questions because there needs to be standardization so the university can evaluate effectiveness. Okay, wait, what? Making this even more ironic is that the lectures and assignments I have no authority to modify were originally written by the person who designed the course five years ago and that would be – me.
Well, I didn’t sign up for this deal. I tell them if I just wanted to stand up in a suit and read someone else’s lecture notes, I’d be teaching at the University of Phoenix, not here. I still don’t have a contract, so I’m going to give it a hard pass.
Apparently, this decision about professors not being able to change anything in their courses got rolled back because (surprise, surprise!) there was push back from the faculty. Because I owe somebody a favor, I end up agreeing to teach and getting access to the course ONE DAY before I am supposed to teach it and doing what I can to edit the course assignments, syllabus, etc. as my husband is driving for us to meet family for a long-planned out-of-town get together.
How does this relate to the average elementary/ middle school teacher?
More than you would think.
First, there is the last minute changes about which no one is informed, much less consulted, enacted by people who have no idea about you or what you teach.
Due to last minute changes and not even knowing if I was going to be teaching the course, there was a lot of starting and stopping on preparation.
There is the lack of access to make technological decisions. Now, I am in the middle of data collection for a research project on exactly that and I do realize that schools have their reasons for limiting access, but it still never ceases to amaze me that we trust someone to be alone with 30 children but we don’t trust that same person to have administrative access to their computers.
So, even though I am very technologically savvy and started out with the best of the intentions, I am trying to edit the assignments on my laptop using my cell phone hot spot for Internet access while my husband is driving up the side of a mountain. So, did I get everything I wanted included as far as new data sets, new lessons? What do you think?