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Life Update and New Semester’s Resolutions for Fall 2021

I recognize that I haven’t updated this space since April. I know I don’t have a lot of readers, but I value those I have, and I haven’t forgotten. In April, I unexpectedly and suddenly lost one of my cats, Legend. I have spent most of my time and energy since then trying to findContinue reading “Life Update and New Semester’s Resolutions for Fall 2021”

Please Don’t Trick Your Students

It’s April Fool’s Day, so let’s talk about tricks teachers play on students. You know the kind. The teacher who writes a whole exam of too-difficult questions only to put in the middle of the instructions that to pass the exam, simply hand it in blank. The ones who bury an important policy in theContinue reading “Please Don’t Trick Your Students”

Writing Is Social

We all know the stereotypes of the writer: the introvert with cats hiding away with coffee and alcohol, scribbling away in a notebook (ok, minus the coffee and wine, it’s true for me). “Writing is a lonely profession,” people say. We see it as a soloistic endeavor: the grand aloof maestro spinning mesmerizing tales outContinue reading “Writing Is Social”

What I Miss From Last Semester’s Contract Grading Experiment

Last semester I tried to finally make the hard switch to contract grading, motivated by a number of reasons. My motivations were good, and my policies had been gradually trending that way anyway, but (as I have explained before) the experiment didn’t go well, with a much higher fail rate than I’m used to seeingContinue reading “What I Miss From Last Semester’s Contract Grading Experiment”

Finishing A Dead Draft

Anne Lamott famously gave us the concept of “shitty first drafts” as the key to “good second drafts and terrific third drafts,” and even that seems overly optimistic for many writers—my process for long fiction takes at least four drafts. But if we are being generous with ourselves, as Anne Lamott argues, we embrace theContinue reading “Finishing A Dead Draft”

Paper Vs. LMS: Tech Tradeoffs

A few years ago, I abandoned paper in my classroom almost entirely. First I stopped taking major assignments in paper form, but a while after that I also started encouraging my students to bring their phones, laptops, and tablets to class to participate in class activities via a Google Doc instead of collecting class activitiesContinue reading “Paper Vs. LMS: Tech Tradeoffs”

Promoting Student Choice

When I was a graduate student, I routinely had two sections of the same class. As a rule I generally kept them on the same syllabus and schedule, and I still do that now that I have four sections of the same class most semesters. It makes less work for me and lets me focusContinue reading “Promoting Student Choice”

Make It Simpler! Advanced Course Design

Despite all my best intentions, and no matter how early I get started on course prep, I’m at the last minute and still caught basically scrambling to put my courses together. That’s ok. I know what I’m doing. I’ve got over a decade of experience teaching college courses—in particular, these first year composition courses thatContinue reading “Make It Simpler! Advanced Course Design”

Fall 2021 Postmortem + New Semester’s Resolutions Spring 2021

As I’ve said before, I actually don’t consider the Covid semesters my “worst semester ever”; that honor is forever reserved for Fall 2019. However, although Spring 2020 was actually ok (all things considered), I will start by saying that Fall 2020 went badly for reasons that I probably could have prevented, and it is myContinue reading “Fall 2021 Postmortem + New Semester’s Resolutions Spring 2021”