What a great relief it is to teach the same course twice. You can use the same answer keys, distribute the same explanations, and teach the same material. All of these things are great time saving devices, but my favorite aspect of teaching the same course twice is getting to improve upon my methods.
I learn a lot my first time with the IT students. I learned they are very inquisitive and enjoy asking complicated questions. They are enthusiastic to learn, even if they don’t really like learning math. I found them to be more motivated than the College Algebra students I taught last year. But aside from learning about the students, I learned about teaching a course entirely devoted to group work. They spend two days a week with me and two with their professor, so half of their in class time is spent with me. We do worksheets to practice what they theoretically learned in class the day before. How do I best use that in class time? How do I split my time amongst the groups of students? Group work is a rocky landmine of possibilities. I found that the students really don’t like talking to each other about their work. I told them they should sit close enough that they could cheat off each other’s worksheets. This helped somewhat.
I learned that when I do worksheets with the students, I should project the answers or write them on the board so the students can correct their own work. This way I can spend more time with on questions and less time checking for correct answers. My favorite aspect of teaching this group work course was getting to know my students. I liked to get to know the individuals and help them when they make the same mistake over and over again. Like a sports couch, I can correct their technique. With my college algebra students, when I have 90 students, I have only a vague idea of who knows what they are doing and who does not. I’m looking forward to a second chance to teach the same material and I’m hoping to improve upon my handouts and perhaps adjust some of my focus to improve my students understanding. Here’s to a lovely new semester!