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C'est la Z

Category: teaching

Yes, deadlines do matter

I've been seeing a few threads lately talking about the virtues of allowing students to hand in assignments late. Not just late but pretty much whenever they want. This attitude seems to be related with things like mastery or specification grading, which I believe in but it's not the same thing. The threads start with someone saying that assignments shouldn't have deadlines or some variant and the thread proceeds with a bunch of people chiming in as to why a teacher who actually enforces deadlines is an inhuman monster.
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When is remote better

With my first classes of the semester coming up on Monday I thought I'd write a bit about what worked better remote than in person. When I say better I mean specifically, worked better for me given my situation. I think they worked better for the class but I can't say with any certainty given the length of the educational feedback loop and other factors. My in person teaching situation is as follows.
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Turning a good class into a bad lecture

I've been teaching in person for about a month now so I thought I'd give a quick update on how it's going. I've written before about my feelings on how Hunter started the semester (TL;DR - I was very displeased) but that's not the point of this post. As of today, I believe every student has been required to be stabbed at least once and on October 11, all students must be fully vaccinated to be on campus.
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Calling an audible

Be ready to call an audible. This was advice I got during my third year teaching. I had just transferred from Seward Park to Stuy and was being observed for the first time by my former teacher and now supervisor Richie Rothenberg. I forget exactly what the lesson was on - something with coordinate geometry I think. The lesson was okay but it wasn't going over well with the class.
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Day one back in person

Yesterday was my first day of in person teaching since early March 2020. It was,… interesting. I was looking forward to actually seeing my students in person but as I mentioned in my last post, i wasn't comfortable given Hunter's current COVID policy and Delta. I'll be happier come mid October when 100% of students on campus will be vaccinated but at least for now, mask compliance is high.
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\(2^5\) Years Teaching

I was looking over my TRS statement the other day - that's Teacher's Retirement System and noticed that next week I'll be starting my 32nd year teaching. That's \(2^5\) or 10000 - 5 bits so I guess you can't call me a two bit teacher. Two and a half years at Seward, over 20 at Stuy, and the rest at Hunter College. I've had a lot of last days before school starts but this year is different.
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Computer Science is not (inherently) fun

I saw a tweet the other day by a CS teacher. They were talking about how much easier it is to teach CS because it's fun. They went on about how they get to create cool problems which makes it so much easier to teach than other subjects. I've heard this a lot over the years particularly from teachers who are into gaming - "CS is fun because you can create games.
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Teaching Styles

My friend Emmanuel lamented over on Facebook on "Learning Styles," or more specifically on how it's still given credence. We all chimed in in agreement but not an hour later I saw a Twitter thread where education thought leaders extolled the virtues of Learning Styles all over again. I pointed out that it's a great example as to why so many teachers scoff at "the research" and "research backed practices.
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Deadlines And Commitments

A few days ago I was part of a Twitter discussion on assignment deadlines. I noticed a tweet: Not sure who needs to hear this, but stop taking off points for late assignments. It’s not helping students learn responsibility, and it’s not making your job easier. It’s only making your class inequitable. 💯 — Sydney Jensen (@sydneycjensen) September 26, 2020 I disagreed. I wasn't necessarily against floating or open deadlines without deductions but rather, they made my life more difficult and weren't in the best interest of my students.
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Quarter Century Courses

I was talking in our Curriculum Development class last week about the courses I've created over the years. From the first computer graphics course to the current teacher education courses. JonAlf pointed out that we missed an "important" occasion last spring - the twenty fifth offering of my computer graphics class at Stuy. I haven't taught it in almost 10 years but it's been running continuously for a quarter century since it first ran back in the mid 90s.
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