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September 07, 2006

Debrief

Well, I survived my first day of teaching yesterday, but was much too exhausted to blog about it by the time I got home. Teaching three fifty-minute sections was so tiring that I finally understood why high school teachers give so much busy work. Nobody can stand up and teach for real five hours a day, five days a week! In college, busy work really isn't an option, which I guess is why there is just so much less class time.

I am teaching History 221, British History since 1688, and the majority of my students are sophomores and juniors, but there are also some freshmen and quite a few seniors. My three sections were very different, both in size and in atmosphere. Nine o'clock is the smallest (big surprise), but also has the oldest students. They seemed dedicated to their work and wanted to get right down to business. My ten o'clock section had ten students, which is just about the perfect size, and they were very enthusiastic, maybe because they had an extra hour to wake up. I knew going into my one o'clock section that it would be the most challenging. It is the biggest (again, no surprise there), and also the most diverse in terms of ages and majors.

As we had no substantive material to cover yesterday, we spent some time getting to know each other. Even though I have a lot of history majors, nobody in any of my sections knew anybody else in the section. So I had them split up into pairs, interview each other, and then introduce their partner to the class. I learned a lot about my students from this exercise, and many of them came to find that they have a lot in common. Some found that they have mutual friends or are even from the same town. There are a lot of Harry Potter readers and Tigers fans. What surprised me the most was how many legacy students there are. When asked why they came to the University of Michigan, many answered "because everyone in my family went here."

Today is the first real lecture -- right into eighteenth-century Britain! I have heard the lectures for this class before, but my interest in the eighteenth century has grown over the past year, so I'm looking forward to hearing about it again. I guess I really am a history geek!

Posted by eklanche at September 7, 2006 11:15 AM

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