Reflections on the first week of classes

One week down, fourteen to go…

As a reminder–HST 2202 is United States History Since 1877, HST 3303 is History of the American Revolution, HST 4401 is History of Pennsylania

One thing I found out is that my students don’t pay attention, don’t listen, or don’t think the rules apply to them.  During each of the “welcome to the course” presentations, I remind students that they are not permitted to use cell phones or other electronic devices during class unless they have documentation that states they are entitled to that accommodation.  I also remind students that they are required to read the course syllabus (and to send me an e-mail acknowledging that they have read and understood it, and that they understand the policies on plagiarism).  Well, while I was giving the spiel in HST 2202, one student who was sitting in the classroom sent the e-mail acknowledgement…which to me indicates that (a) he was reading the syllabus during class and/or (b) he was using an unauthorized electronic device right after I had stated it was unacceptable to do that (and, since I have the time the e-mail was sent and recorded the course introduction, I know when each occurred).  Of course, it’s someone who sits in the back of the room, and the room is not laid out to encourage me to walk around while teaching.  So, because the university has crammed too many chairs into the room for me to monitor whether students can follow course procedures, I guess I’ll have to accept that texting, web surfing, etc. will occur while I am teaching.  On the bright side, I do not permit my students to consult the internet when preparing their take-home exams, so they will suffer the consequences for not paying attention in class (and trust me, it will be evident with their exam responses).

Other than that, the course introductions went well.  Several students have added HST 2202 (or missed the first day for a variety of reasons), so recording the course introduction will help them catch up.  A couple of students dropped HST 4401, probably after finding out that it’s a history class that will require reading and writing, and that occasionally scares away the faint of heart (at least it has during summer sessions).  The only glitch occurred when I tried to upload the video introductions to Desire2Learn (the online course management system we use at Mansfield); the link to the university’s media server wouldn’t load properly, so I converted the video introduction to HST 2202 to a YouTube video (actually, two YouTube videos) and set it up so only those who had the link could access it (in other words, only those who opened the link on the D2L site for HST 2202 would be able to view it).

Another thing I discovered this week is that I have to be flexible.  While the students and I were watching the documentary on Indian Boarding Schools, we had a fire drill.  So I stopped the video and waited for the students to leave the room (following behind and making sure the room was secured).  Fortunately, the interruption was brief, and it could have been worse—it could have been one of those lockdown drills in which they lock people out of the buildings (I’ll let you figure out the problem with that scenario).

This coming week will have lectures in HST 4401 and films and lectures in HST 2202 and HST 3303—biographies in both classes (Milton Hershey in HST 2202—and, of course, I will hand out Hershey’s kisses—and Patrick Henry in HST 3303).  I also hit the road and meet the cooperating teachers for my student teachers for the first time this semester (three of whom I have worked with previously, so it will be more of a review than a true orientation visit).

Stay tuned…and, in case you’re wondering, yes, I have looked at the videos.  First reaction…I wonder if I could talk if I didn’t have hands.  And here’s the photo of the week (which is currently my profile picture on Facebook):

I did remind the students that I receive no royalties from "Sports in Pennsylvania," which the students in HST 4401 were required to buy.


About Karen

History Professor. Baseball fan. Author of two books, one of which I force my students to buy and read. You want me on your Trivial Pursuit team.
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