The first meeting of my undergrad class is in 57 hours. Not that I’m counting. I have sixty students registered, and the students have signed up for discussion sections along with the lecture. I do not, at present, know whether I have one or two TAs.
Am I weird to think that at this point I should know whether I have one or two TAs? I’ve had a plan for what I was going to assign the students work-wise, which may have been slightly stretching it with myself and two TAs but will be flat-out impossible and so require substantial revision with only one.
With respect to my graduate seminar, I find myself hindered by the fact that not only did I not teach any seminars at Wisconsin, I can’t really remember what happened in whatever seminars I took at Indiana. I know it seems weirdly late to be making a general call for ideas, but does anyone have any recommendations for what makes for a good graduate seminar? I know more or less what topics the seminar will cover; it’s more the format that is the issue. An added wrinkle is Northwestern’s being on quarters; this will be my first experience teaching with a quarter system.
The graduate seminar I expect will work out okay regardless. “What’s the worst that can happen?” is what I tell myself. Except, then I remember it’s a seminar about “genetics and society” and I imagine someone wildly misunderstanding something I say and there being riots. Yet despite my penchant for deep pessimism I have decided to proceed with the conviction that riots will not happen.
The undergraduate course, on the other hand, I am really quite nervous about. It’s been unconscionably long since the last time I taught undergraduates, especially considering how much I enjoyed the undergrad teaching I did at Wisconsin. (More, no offense to anyone intended, than I enjoyed teaching graduate students there.) I’ve decided to try something quirky in how I’ve organized the course topics-wise, and I have no idea how it will go.
My dream is to develop a gratifying and well-received course at this level, and then teach it every year until I die. I know that Version 1.0 will involve me figuring out how to do things better the next time, but still I want to feel like I’m doing well the first time through. I don’t know about y’all, but when teaching is going well it is something from which I draw a good deal of energy and enthusiasm to other parts of my work, and when it’s not going well, I just want to crawl into bed with some mints and wallow.