I like doing things ahead of time. So, when I was unexpectedly offered extra classes by two different colleges last minute (only weeks before the semester started), I was a little panicky, especially because I have a number of piano students this year, and we've been working hard as a family to simplify our lives and routines. But since both colleges were willing and able to work within my already set schedule, I said yes.
For one college, I converted a hybrid class into a fully online class, and for the other college, I converted a fully online class into a hybrid class. In addition, I needed to create two sections of accelerated hybrid "half-term" classes.
I quickly realized I needed to “coach” myself similarly to the way I would coach a client through an academic project. To make this work in a way that fit my priorities, I would have to break everything down into manageable chunks, and have every element of the classes pre-planned. I would also have to give myself a strict schedule to get this done in the brief weeks before class.
In order to transform the hybrid class into the online class, I started with the basic outlines that I use for my face-to-face lectures, and fully fleshed them out into prose, offset by embedded media. There was no room for procrastinating with this writing process. Along with the new lectures, I would use a modular system for the class: each topical lecture would be framed by discussion boards, writing projects, and brief review quizzes.
My self-given assignment was to work on a single module each day: writing a module introduction (with an outline of all activities), a lecture and quiz, and either importing or creating new assignments. To prepare for this I created a document with a list of the modules and projected projects that I kept open on my desktop to review, and check off along the way. And when I had accomplished my goal for a single module, my goal was to come to a full stop and step away. Stepping away was one of the hardest parts, but I knew that it as important so that I keep my focus without burning out over the next days.
In the meantime, I realized that the modular approach I used for the online classes worked well for the hybrid “half-term” classes as well. After completing the modules, I imported them into the half-term classes.
The other conversion—from online class into a hybrid class—was much easier. Because all of the content and assignments are already created and online, I have decided to teach this class using a flipped classroom approach. My in-class time will be used for coaching students through the online set-up, supplementing the given information with related materials, class discussions, live music, and peer review. The main thing I had to do was change the due date structure, and update the grading system to reflect our new in-class activities. I’m quite excited by the new possibilities that could unfold from this hybrid/flipped classroom format
I finished today. I have syllabi made for each of the four classes, and every assignment, lecture, and discussion board is set for the semester within the modules, and the modules are programmed to automatically open on particular dates. All of my in-class teaching for the semester will be done on a single day, and I have chunks of time set aside later in the week for engaging students through grading and e-mails.
It was a lot of work. It wasn’t quite how I had planned to finish up my last weeks of summer. And my mind is fuzzy. But I'm ready to go. Honestly, this level of microplanning is not my natural mode of teaching or engagement with life. But this is part of my life, especially as I work with non-traditional modes of teaching (online, hybrid).
I know that this kind of last minute planning is something that many adjunct professors face. So here are a few quick take-aways:
Joanna & Tim
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