Today was my first day of teaching for the spring semester. I have a very different schedule this semester from last semester. Last semester, I had three courses, and I had requested that they be restricted to two days per week so that I wouldn’t have to come in as many days. In previous years at other institutions, that strategy had worked well to help me organize my time. However, I never taught more than two courses at once. Here at LaGuardia, teaching three long classes on the same day proved to be overwhelming, especially considering that I had to move my office hours to a third day and often ended up coming in a fourth day anyway to attend meetings, grade, prepare course materials, or do administrative work.
So I am happy that I have only one course each day this semester. I am teaching two courses this semester. Precalculus (Math 200) meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8AM, and Elementary Algebra (Math 96) meets on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:15 AM. (Each class meets with me a total of five hours per week.) Then on Fridays I have the set theory seminar at 10AM at the Graduate Center, or occasionally a faculty seminar at LaGuardia at 9AM where we will prepare to teach a seminar for first year LaGuardia students. I think that will be cool, because I really enjoyed my first year seminar as an undergraduate student at Grinnell.
This morning schedule is a big change for me; I have been a total night owl for the last seven years at least, rarely getting up much before noon. But I think it will be good for my health to wake up more with the sun. It might be a rough adjustment period, but it will be worthwhile. As a bonus, if all goes well, I can leave work by mid to late afternoon most days and be able to go out in the city some weekday evenings for dinner or a show. (If all doesn’t go well, I’ll be buried in grading, course preparation, administrative work, etc. and rarely get out of here until late anyway. But I am optimistic that it will be better than that.) Another nice benefit to the schedule is that I can conveniently make myself available for 45 minutes worth of office hours four days per week, so that students have a better opportunity to see me.
The elementary algebra students seem like a good group. They really seemed to appreciate the activity of sharing their feelings towards math and their expectations for the course. The videos didn’t seem to be as effective; only a few students commented on them, but the initial discussion before the videos was quite fruitful. A few students told me that they hate math, but many, I think a majority though I didn’t count, came in with positive attitudes towards math. Now it is my responsibility to help them to maintain these positive attitudes and to work hard and succeed in the class. I’m up for the challenge.