Thoughts on Teaching – 3/17/2012 – Writing a new lecture
I did something new today. I didn’t finish it, but I did get it started. I started writing a new lecture. That might not seem like that big of a deal, but it is when you are stuck in the academic rut that teaching at a community college can get you in. At my community college, I am only allowed to teach the two halves of the American history survey. That means that it is easy to simply rely on the same lectures over and over and never fundamentally change anything as far as what you teach. It is just the same two classes over and over, and it is an easy rut to fall into.
This semester, as I was looking at my schedule for classes this semester, and I came up one day short with all that I wanted to do. So, I decided it was time to write a new lecture. I have been relying on the lectures that I wrote in graduate school, over six years ago. I have altered them some and moved things around, but I have not fundamentally changed anything about them in all that time. My own lectures have ended in 1992 since the point, as that was appropriate when I first developed the lectures for the second half survey. With the new space that I had this semester, I decided it was time to extend the class. So, I am now going to go until the September 11th attacks.
That means that I wrote a lecture today that covers basically 1992-2001. It was weird to write that lecture, that’s for sure, as I lived through that period, even more than the 1980s material. I was a fully functioning and politically aware person through all of that time, and so I saw the things first-hand.
It was also weird to sit down and write a lecture, as I have not really done that in a long time. I had to think some just about organization and what I wanted to cover, in a way that I have not had to in a while. Right now, the lecture is running quite long, but I’m taking the approach of putting everything down that I can think to talk about in a class. Then, I can go back in and shorten, clarify, and focus the lecture. I want to make sure that it has a good thematic focus and a strong base of evidence, just what I ask of my students in their own writing.
The next step after I finish writing and editing the lecture will be to do the other things that are involved. I will then have to put together the PowerPoint associated with it and record the audio podcasts that accompany the lecture. All of this will be in preparation for the debut of the new lecture next week.
The ironic thing about all of this work is that I’m about to abandon the lecture format, so this might be something that doesn’t even get used that much. But I still want this to be a good one, even if the students don’t appreciate it.