Classically Inclined

August 10, 2022

Teaching goals for 2022-23

Filed under: Teaching — lizgloyn @ 11:06 am
Tags: , , , ,

I was thinking the other day that I hadn’t really sat down and thought about what I was doing with my pedagogy… and then remembered that, what with the rapid shift to teaching completely on-line in 2020-21 and then moving back towards more on-site but also on-line elements in 2021-22, I haven’t really done anything but think about pedagogy. It just that the changes haven’t been ones I would have wanted to make; rather they have been necessary responses to the extraordinary circumstances in which we have found ourselves with the COVID-19 pandemic. The one really good thing that has come out of this whole thing is that my Moodle pages are now much, much better and actually work as a support for learning rather than just an infodump – I really doubt I’d have got around to the necessary training and work to make those changes without the last couple of years.

Obviously, next year is not a great year for me to make lots and lots of changes to my teaching, because I’m going to be starting theological college and I don’t want to overpromise what I’m going to have capacity to do. However, I do have things I can do, so here are some goals for the coming teaching year for review in due course.

Ally: we have just introduced the Ally plug-in to Moodle. The idea is that it helps us spot where we’re using documents that might not, for instance, be accessible to students using screen readers or other kinds of accessibility aids. It also does lots of other clever things as detailed on the link. The messaging is very much that this is a guide to help us when we’re creating new content rather than an ‘everything must be retrospectively compliant right this second’, and of course there will always be things (like scanned PDFs where we can’t get to the original file) that we can’t retrofit to be accessible. That said, one of my goals this year is to get more of my files to a ‘good’ Ally rating, and to get into the habit of creating resources with the kinds of simple things that make a file register as ‘good’. In many cases, these really are tiny, like labelling a header as a header to help our a screen reader, but it’s not intuitive right now.

Dissertations: I’m going to have a lot of dissertation students this year, so I want to try something very new – walk and talk group supervisions, at least one a term and ideally one in both halves of the semester. This idea came from both a desire to give walking pedagogy a go, and new maps of walks on campus that have been released. Obviously, I’m going to need to talk to my dissertation students and make sure this plan doesn’t exclude anyone (which I can do as part of our start of term one to one chats, along with asking about any neurodivergent or pastoral stuff I should know about as dissertation supervisor). It’s a relatively low-stakes exercise that might serve to build some group cohesion and community among our third years (who have had a really rough time over the last two years), so if I can get them all on-board, then there should be a lot of benefits to doing this.

Contemporary Approaches: I’m introducing revised content in the final quarter of this course, thinking about classical reception and novels (and, can I say, I am super excited by it), so that’s going to be one new element. However, I also want to do some work on how I’m handling the reflective journals which form 10% of the student assessment. At the moment, they’re really Marmite – some students love them, others really hate them. I want to try doing more feedforward and support with these assessments, starting really in the first week of teaching (made easier by having had Week Zero courses for our rising third years in the summer term, actually). Simple things I could do are talking explicitly about the assessment; reviewing the marking rubric close to the first deadline; and offering an exemplar and evaluating it (either from me as a video or an in-class peer activity). Peer marking will not work here, because the reflective journals are meant to be quite personal. So that’s an identified issue with a clear target.

Roman Drama: this is an entirely new advanced language course, at both BA and MA level, so there’s a lot of work already going on here! Again, I think I want to offer more feedforward and support with the student-led seminars, which is a really important element of our advanced Latin provision, again through discussing them earlier in the course and making more space for students to talk to me and each other about their expectations. The other major thing I really want to address is how to bundle the BA and MA courses together; last year the MA version of my Latin Epic course didn’t run so I couldn’t have another go at what didn’t work perfectly in the 2020-21 session and Latin Letters, so hopefully this year I can give it another tweak and make the integration work better. Should enough students register, of course! Last year I started running a session for students to talk about their essay topics and get some peer feedback, so I’ll keep those as they seemed helpful.

Thinking Myth: this is another entirely new course; I’m teaching four classes on classical reception in the summer (and again, they are going to be really cool). The whole thing is a really exciting new team-taught experiment, so honestly I think I just want us to get through it all in one piece with all the students having an awesome time, and then we can collectively think about what worked and what needs improving.

Given how much new content I’ve got to handle this year, I think that being realistic about updating my materials and producing new course content is probably the right way to go. One other thing I do want to note (as much for myself as anything else) is that producing video guides to both assessments and marking rubrics is not just adding fluffy content, it’s actually making written content more accessible, so it’s worth doing (and ideally doing in such a way that it can be reused!).

Let’s see how this all goes.

2 Comments »

  1. With regards to the contemorary approaches marmite – aren’t all assessments outside essay writing like this? I am thinking when a recording or collaborative presentation is needed. Personally the more emphasis on reflective the better, that doesn’t mean I enjoy it as such, the more the individual learns about themselves and their journey. Yes, it is always difficult thinking and writing about yourself but so important.
    As for the thinking myth, I wish I was doing it. Will there be monsters?

    Comment by Classicalstudiesman — August 10, 2022 @ 11:15 am | Reply

    • The only two kinds of activities I’ve had this kind of response to consistently are the reflective journals, actually – obviously non-written forms of assessment create their own kinds of anxieties, but I think what students find difficult is the idea that they’re being assessed on their own responses and the idea of having something that’s deeply personal marked doesn’t quite sit right with them. Given that this course has been running for a few years and the polarisation in the feedback is pretty consistent, doing some more explicit work around how to do that kind of personal writing and how to understand the marking criteria we use for it definitely sounds like the right move.

      Monsters will definitely appear in Thinking Myth – I’m doing a week on visual receptions when they’ll crop up a lot. The sessions are going to have to be quite survey-like, simply because of the scope of the subject, but I imagine there will be plenty of monsters on show one way or another.

      Comment by lizgloyn — August 10, 2022 @ 1:32 pm | Reply


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