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Six Survival Tips For The Semester!

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The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893

The start of the new school year is always an exciting time filled with heady possibilities. But, whether you’re new or returning for the umpteenth semester, it can also be a scary moment as you contemplate both the unknown and all the work you’ve got to accomplish in 16 weeks. So, here are some suggestions to help you get the most from your classes and survive them too!

Work ahead as much as possible. This will save you from always scrambling to get a lesson together and it gives your students wiggle room. I’ve had students evicted, arrested, fired, hospitalized, and deployed all in one semester. But by being able to move on to the next assignment, they can keep their grades up and recover from what they missed.

Automate where you can. Multiple choice quizzes can be loaded into Angel to be administered and graded automatically. By not spending time on routine checks for reading or comprehension, you free up your time and energy to concentrate on assignments that need detailed feedback. Put your time into lessons that push for higher-level thinking.

Wear comfy shoes. We sometimes forget our job is very physical. You need to walk around your classroom, point to computer screens and papers, write examples on the whiteboard. So make sure you have the right shoes or arm brace or whatever it is you need for a 1- to 2-hour, low-intensity workout. Water in a capped bottle doesn’t hurt either.

Carry a dry erase pen with you. The school will provide them – see your department office secretary – and they will disappear. Don’t get caught unprepared. Have one in your purse or tote. If you use the printers, you will need to carry paper, so I recommend saving a tree and using an Angel dropbox instead.

Use the support systems! It’s tempting to answer every question because the student is right in front of you, but you can’t be everything to everybody.

  • Financial aid can help with money questions.
  • Academic advising knows which credits transfer best.
  • The Libraries can walk students through research.
  • The Learning Support Commons will help guide students through studying for exams.
  • In addition, there are Writing Centers on Clearwater, Gibbs, Seminole, and Tarpon Springs campuses in the Libraries or Learning Support Commons that can help students develop papers.

Take a break. Teachers start to see everything as a potential lesson, just like cops start to question everybody’s whereabouts. Get away from the job and get perspective. Go to the movies, take your honey to dinner, see a play, catch a concert, go for a walk. There’s lots of opportunities on campus; just don’t do classwork when you go.

Keep an eye out in the upcoming semester for more opportunities to learn the tips and tricks that help you teach as CETL will be bringing training to your campus!

If you have ideas, share them with your fellow faculty and staff in the comments below  – or –  write for the CETL blog! This is your place to share your experiences and discoveries! Just send stories, photos, videos, PowerPoint, etc. to bryson.kathy@spcollege.edu

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