Spring break is behind us now, and I always think about how April is a marathon to the end of the semester. It’s insightful but overwhelming thinking about all the things that have gone well, and not so well, during the semester. Do others feel this way too? How do I approach this home stretch to the semester?
A Tired Teacher
Dear A Tired Teacher,
Yes! Others most definitely feel this way, too. Last month, we talked about mid-semester evaluations to see how students feel about our class. Based on what students said, and thinking about the semester as a whole, we may feel happy with some parts and not as happy with other parts. It can often be helpful to share these thoughts with others and know that we are not alone. One of many approaches to do this is called Roses and Thorns, where we can share the best part of the semester and the worst part of the semester so far. Here is what some of our early career psychologists have reflected on this month!
Rose: My Research Methods in Social Psychology students have been working remarkably well on their group research projects this semester using publicly available datasets instead of collecting their own data like I’ve done in the past. Despite initial anxiety about statistics, many students were actually excited to see if their hypotheses were supported by the data they’re examining, which was so great to see! I may have even succeeded in making research methods and stats “Not Awful” (thanks, Jess Hartnett!) because my methods course for the Fall is already full with a long waitlist, which isn’t typical.
Thorn: I had students in my Science of Happiness seminar (mostly seniors) work in small groups to lead class discussion on a course topic of their choice this semester, which hasn’t been going as well as I’d hoped. I really regret not requiring lesson plans to be submitted 1-2 weeks in advance because many seemed to prepare their class discussions at the last minute, and it showed. I hope doing so and implementing a confidential evaluation of group work will help prevent social loafing and ensure better student-led class discussions in the future.
Rose: My Experimental Psychology students are working really well in their groups this semester and seem excited to be finishing up and presenting their projects! Sometimes students in this class struggle to find motivation or are impacted by difficult group dynamics—so it has been really nice to have groups working positively and productively as we approach their final presentations!
Thorn: In addition to teaching, I also advise first-year students (whom I had as students in our Introduction to University Life course in the Fall). It has been particularly hard this year to get them to sign up for meeting times (And then show up for those meetings once they sign up!). I’m still trying to find the best way to help them develop skills related to time management/meeting etiquette.
Rose: I adjunct at a two-year institution, and I am teaching general psychology this term. The students are super engaged each class period, and I always have a blast hearing their great questions and connections to real life. It makes me feel more and more excited to step into the classroom each day and meet with them.
Thorn: I have a new prep this semester for a graduate course. Sometimes, it feels like this one has more things going wrong than right, but I keep telling myself that it’s still okay! I am thankful for the students in the class voicing what they do and do not enjoy about the class, though, so that we can make the class better for all of us.
In addition to acknowledging, reflecting on, and learning from roses and thorns about the semester, it could be a good way to collect informal feedback from students, too! Some instructors have done this at random points throughout the semester as a way to check in on students. April is a marathon full of exciting times, too. Good luck to everyone as another semester winds down!