I've been hanging out in Oxford since Friday afternoon, though I've spent a ton of time reading, sleeping at the wrong times, and discovering the joys of being lactose intolerant. (Did you know that you can develop lactose intolerance out of nowhere, as an adult? Neither did I. Now we both know. According to the internet, this can be temporary. I hope so. I'm not willing to face a world without pizza or cappuccino.).
But I have wandered around a bit to see the hordes of teenage Harry Potter fan tourists, the older and more picturesque of the Oxford colleges, the center city shopping area, and the Starbucks in which I am currently working and writing while I wait to be able to move into the college where I will be living and working.
Yes I came 5000 miles for Starbucks. Hey, it has seats.
I will be living and working in a much less historical college - St Antony's College was founded in 1950, about 700 years after some of the earlier ones. More than a hundred years after my own American undergraduate institution, oddly enough. There's a reception tonight and class starts tomorrow.
I think I am going to be okay with this - I wrote out some notes and a mini outline from the reading I've done on my research paper topic, and the document has 700 words. The paper needs to be 2000. So I think I'm going to be okay there. And I've done just about all of the reading for the first two days of class.
Lessons learned to apply to my teaching:
- Creating a syllabus that is too enormous is demoralizing and counterproductive. While I know this in abstract, it's been a while since I've experienced this. If this class were on a topic that I truly knew nothing about, and I was doing anything else besides getting ready for this class for the last two weeks, I would have been screwed. I want to make sure that my classes in future don;t feel quite this crazed, at least not constantly.
- Taking notes while reading in some fashion is really important. My annotations, highlights,and written summaries (though I have given up on written summaries at this point because I have too much to read) forced me to engage in the reading. And I can go back to them rather than rereading whole chunks of text.
- Well selected readings that connect to specific questions help enormously. This class is very well designed, which I appreciate and aspire to.
- My god school is hard.
None of these are true revelations, but there ya go.