Friday, August 18, 2006

teaching evals

I finally went to get my full set of teaching evals from Intro Bio Lab. A few weeks ago I received an email with my averages out of the 5 point scale, and they were quite good. Being a brand new TA though, I was a little afraid at what might be listed under "things to improve."

They were really great evals. I'm going to miss the teaching, but not the giant time suck that it was.

Under things to Improve:
-Organization: Fair assessment. Some labs I had to run around and look up answers or find equipment. Strangely, other people listed organization as a strength.
-Use of Time: This one I'm not sure how much I could have changed. Some students are much much faster than others. Not fair to rush the rest, I think. Also, one wanted the review at the beginning of the class?? How is it a "review" if you haven't seen the material yet?
-Emphasis on Material: One comment hit home because I'm sure it was true. It was along the lines of "makes certain topics seem like they aren't worth knowing." Ooops. There are certain subtopics of this class that are really boring and/or pointless to me. That does not mean I should give my students that impression.

Things done well:
-Explanation of Material: Apparently I'm good at answering questions in a way my students can easily understand.
-Reviews/Review Materials: I gave out a review page at the end of almost every lab. They LOVED me for this. I once went two weeks without one due to lack of time, and the following week one student said, "Yes! I love these!"
-Enthusiasm: I got this one a LOT. I really do love my field. I think I was purposely trying to show my true enthusiasm because many students come into this course thinking it is going to be deathly boring. I wanted to avoid that mindset from the beginning.

My favorite comments:
"Honeybee is awesome!" (smiley face)
"Honeybee was a really great TA." (and other slight variations"

and the winner...
"Honeybee rules the biology world!"

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


The first ever Carnival of GRADual Progress is up at StyleyGeek's place! I am a doofus and forgot to submit anything, but there is a TON of great stuff to read anyway! There are several grad student bloggers there that are new to me, so I highly encourage you to head on over and check it out.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

writer's block, study block

I've been having trouble coming up with ideas for posts lately. Apparently I'm having writer's block in addition to study block.

Study block is the phenomenon whereby you know you have a very important exam in the near future but cannot seem to find time, effort, energy or motivation to actually study for it.

I've always been averse to studying. I blame high school for being so easy that "studying" consisted of my good friends hanging out and eating snacks and leafing through our notes for an hour the day before an exam. Whatever the reason, getting myself to study is about as hard as getting me to pull my own teeth.

At this point I have less than two months until my qualifying exam and I've managed to slog through two chapters of basic review material. I have a ton of subjects to review. Teaching in the spring refreshed a good chunk of the basics, but there are some key areas I'm very fuzzy in these days.

My fabulous therapist suggested I'm "blocked" because I'm afraid. I hadn't thought of that before. I AM afraid. There is a part of me that seems to be whispering that if I don't study and then I fail, it won't be a big deal. But if I study study study and fail then I am surely a big idiot who doesn't belong here. If that isn't a recipe for diaster I don't know what is. She also planted a seed of an idea for how to study: make lesson plans on the material. If I can teach it then I know it well enough for the exam. Plus it's much more fun to study that way.

My goal for this week is to study for two hours a day, even if I break it into smaller chunks. I will do this studying somewhere other than the lab where there are no distractions. Thankfully one of my projects is in a slower phase right now, so I should have plenty of time to get away from the lab without feeling too guilty.