Imagining My Class
What a nice way to celebrate #TeacherAppreciationDay… planning for my EDUC454 (Quantitative Approaches to Environmental Education) class that starts this Thursday at SFU. As mentioned in a previous blog, planning for EDUC454 this year will be so different from planning for this course last year. First of all, last year I had never taught EDUC454 before so that year was about learning how to teach EDUC454, a Q-course or “quantitative” course, that included some math. This year, I have the pleasure and privilege of teaching this course again. I have some prior knowledge and experience, but also feedback from the Student Evaluations that could make this course better. I wonder if my students this year will notice. Second, I taught this course in the morning at Burnaby campus last year. This year, I am teaching it as a night course at Surrey campus. I am amazed how the facility, location, and time of day can change the whole scope of the course. Finally, I am soooooo happy to be a connected educator. I am blessed to have two members of my PLN, who work at SFU, to come guest speak at my class about place-based learning and environmental education. I will discuss that further in future blogs.
I have already submitted my course description a few months ago to be posted on the SFU website. Last week, I had completed the Detailed Syllabus and framework for the 13-weeks of this course to put onto CANVAS for my students to preview but also plan for my guest speakers and possible final field trip. Now, I am planning for my first class. This process of planning and prepping for a university undergraduate course is so much different from teaching in K-12. In higher education, I am creating the course based on a brief description found in the university calendar. In K-12, the curriculum is prescribed so your job is to find ways to teach/learn the competencies and content. I am doing that too in higher education, even more so when this course is intended for pre-service teachers.
What I find challenging but also invigorating about teaching undergraduate courses is, you have no idea who is in your classroom. I guess I have their names but I don’t know anything more about them. Last year, to my surprise, I had a class filled with secondary teachers who were non-mathematics specialists. They were so in my wheelhouse and knowing that from them on the first day dictated how the course went. That class still has a great influence on my planning and prepping as I took many of their recommendations to heart and made some revisions to the course. Their learning experiences taught me what was possible, what needed improvement, and create possible ways to make the course better. What I do find fascinating about teaching at the university is, I have 13-weeks to learn about who these students, build relationships, figure out what they need and would like to learn, design and facilitate the course accordingly, and then evaluate them. At this point in time, I can only imagine my class and wonder who they are.
I am looking forward to teaching at Surrey campus. This will be a new experience for me. My doctorate program was held at Surrey campus, so I am familiar with the university hovering over a mall. I quite like that idea. This is the first time I will be teaching on campus. I need to get a pass and familiarize myself with the facility, location, and time of day to make the most of this course so that my students feel inspired to embed quantitative approaches to environmental education into their teaching practice. Stay tuned to weekly blogs about my EDUC454 E100 class. I like to blog in real time as my students do to model what it means to be a reflective practitioner. Reflection is part of the learning process. I hope that you join us online this summer. It’s going to be FUN.