Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Experiment Coming to A Close

As my second semester teaching at BYU-Idaho comes to a close – we’ve got about two weeks left – I’ve got to say my lesson learned from this semester is that the more I participate in class as an instructor and fellow student, the more connected and empathetic I feel towards my students.

I really got involved that first semester, completing assignments alongside my students. Some of them appreciated that. Some of them did not – they felt I dominated the conversations too much. So this semester, I ramped down the enthusiasm – I think to mostly deleterious effect. Now the secret, I see, will be in finding a balance between twinkling with mirth and burning with Satanic rage.

Bringing in more empathy is key – that’s what we’ve been asked to do time and again by our online overlords (that we’ve also been advised to “dress the part” when holding office hours and such is something I’ll roll my eyes about). As a likely Asberger’s Syndrome sufferer, I have to do what I can to build empathy. Taking a back seat to the discussion isn’t helping me do that at all.

Being in class more – because I’ve got something to say – will also draw me more into the conversations and help me be more on top of questions the students pose. I’ve slacked off on the whole house-lifting thing, and some of my students have noticed. I’ll also want to ask future students to pose questions in the forums and then follow up with an email question for anything that’s really tickling their brain – as I’m more prone to checking email than I am to read every single class post.

So what’s my big experiment for next semester? HOFRS. Harking back to my missionary days, that means Helping Others Feel and Recognize the Spirit. Meaning I’ve got to do more to motivate students who start out in class and then gradually fade away. Got to find out why they’re doing that and what I can do to get them more enthusiastic about sticking it out.

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