One More Class for the Books

Date: 4 Jan 2016 Comments: 0

Hello readers and Happy New Year to you all! I have just now gotten my head above water long enough to blog about anything. As of about a week ago, I just completed my second term teaching at Liberty University. I must be doing something right, because my team told me that I have been selected to teach this course for two sub-terms this semester. Liberty operates primarily four alternating terms in a semester: A and C term (first of the term and middle) and then B and D term (second part of the semester and the last). Historically, I have only taught this class in D term (as happened the past two classes) but I was advised that I am teaching this class both in B and D terms this semester. That means that I have an even shorter break than before (B term starts up in about two weeks) and I will be teaching the class twice in a row (with a brief break between B and D terms). Couple that with being designated as the Subject Matter Expert (SME) with the class, which basically allows me to modify the core instructions of the class which are then used by anyone who teaches the class (I know of at least one other professor who teaches this class) and I would say that Liberty has put a lot of faith in me as a faculty member. I am blessed that God has favored me as such as I certainly earned nothing on my own.

That being said, this last term was a grizzly one. In fact, I had a few occasions where I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to get all the work done. This was because of a number of factors. The primary factor is that my house was rocked with sickness from about Thanksgiving all the way through Christmas. It started with one of my children giving me some stomach bug right around Thanksgiving that put me out of commission for about a day. Then, one of my sons seemed to be constantly running fevers and seeming lethargic but the clinic and his primary care physician (PCP) did not see anything outside of a virus. Finally, when he was saying that it hurt to go potty, we took him to the clinic and they did an X Ray to find out that he had a pneumonia bacteria very deep in his lungs and it was starting to put pressure on his bladder. We started getting him through that and then the other kids got another stomach but and one of the babies got an upper respiratory infection. Finally, this all culminated in me personally coming down with what I perceived to be a wicked cold that caused me to spike fevers frequently and feel like my lungs were ‘rattling’ a lot. The end diagnosis was that I, too, had pneumonia and since it had not been diagnosed as such before, the antibiotic I had didn’t really help me much. Finally I got a some strong antibiotics and it started to leave my system.

As if the above situation was not enough, my work decided to send me to Las Vegas in early December to go to a conference. I am not complaining about being sent to Vegas for free, mind you, but it was a challenging thing to work at the conference and still have time to grade/enjoy the area. I learned a lot at the conference and made good friends with one of my coworkers who came along (and our wives became good friends too because they came with us). However, the conference lasted four days and I didn’t get to do any grading at all during that time. When I finally got back to the house, I was over a week behind in my grading and the sickness that hit me did not help.

All that is to say that I spent the greater part of a month, being almost two weeks behind in grading. I had a lot going on in my primary job and so I couldn’t really work on my grading then either. Ultimately, I had to pretty much come home every night, eat dinner, put kids to bed and then blast through as many papers as I could. I didn’t get caught up until a day or two before the final grades were due and still had to grade some papers even up to the last few hours before the papers were due. But, by God’s grace, I got it done. Now, I have two classes under my belt.

So how did I fare this time? Honestly, about the same as last time. Based on the results of the End of Course Survey, I had about two students who were very unhappy with having me as their teacher, 6 or 7 more than felt I did pretty good overall but still were unhappy with a few things, and finally about 8 to 10 that were happy with the class overall. That’s a pretty good set of odds! I learned early on that I was never going to make every student happy and this term was no different but none of the students indicated that I was not supportive of them which is vital to my success as a teacher at Liberty. There were still some concerns about the confusing directions but this time, it was more due to the fact that I implemented two new sets of instructions (one for the Article Reviews and another for the Research Papers) but they were not setup to replace the default instructions in the course so the students had to look in a different place to get the instructions. I did provide them links to the material frequently in my announcements but I can see how even that is not enough for some people. Now that I have updated the core instructions, my new instructions should not require the students to look two places as the new guides have been replaced in the core documents for all future classes (thanks to my SME powers). I know that there will still be those who do not get what they expected which causes them to be upset but overall it will be a positive path going forward.

For now, I just ask that God continue to fill me with the care and compassion that these students need and help me maintain health and balance during the next term. I will continue to find ways to relax and breathe so that I can go into the next round of classes without as much stress as the others. If you need me, I will be either playing with the kiddos or doing some awesome gaming until the new term starts.

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