Spring break. That brief interlude between terms, when there is still a crapload of work to do… but we don’t get paid to do it. (Admittedly, I also got to play GTA for a few days too.) I do enjoy getting to look back at the previous quarter and figure out what worked well and what didn’t, and I also like getting to figure out what to do differently next quarter.
Details matter. I can wing a classroom pretty well, but if you don’t make a plan for your classroom, then they will make a plan for you. And you won’t like theirs. Most often, their plan involve leaving early, and having you do their homework problems for them. Ever notice that if you give a person a choice between doing something good, and doing something easy, people will inevitably choose easy? This should be no surprise, it is simple human nature.
Here is an experiment: tell yourself you are going to get up an hour early and go running (or whatever your preferred form of exercise is). When the alarm goes off, you are faced with the choice of leaving a warm an comfy bed or getting up and working out. Even though you know that working out will make you feel good, you will likely go for the immediacy of extra sleep.
Everybody does this. There are a few ways to short circuit this kind of behavior: 1) the shotgun method, and 2) incremental changes. “Shotgunning” involves implementing a lot of small tasks/goals knowing that only a few of the goals will be completed. This still leaves some things undone, but cumulatively this can have a big impact. But when it comes to class building, I prefer the sneaky approach. Start them out easy, get them used to doing the bonus problems. After a while, it will be hard for them to remember what not doing extra work was like. Increase the number, and difficulty of the homework. Incremental changes have more impact than trying to implement anything large in scale, if you plan things right.
… Ah, twisting and torturing minds. I love my job.