Planning Day for A New Class


I get a little nervous every time I have to plan a new class, but after I get through the nerves – will I be good at teaching this? will I come up with useful activities? How will I handle all the grading? – I then find myself getting really excited. Why? Because so much of what a teaching experience is involves planning, which you all know I love.

Right now, I’m planning a class on Magical Realism Literature. The hope is that while the students are reading these strange, surreal stories that I’ve picked out for them, they will learn a few other things along the way: tactics for successful discussion in classes, practical tips for writing successful essays, methods for reading deeply and pulling out the most important aspects of a text, and a general ability to think critically rather than just consuming media without comment.

In doing this, I have to plan so many things. I currently have a spreadsheet where I’m listing potential activities, potential readings, and potential assignments. I also throw in different discussion structures, since many first-year students at the college where I teach don’t love big group discussions, and since I know a few magical realist writers, I’m toying with the idea of bringing one to campus to speak.

I plan in a variety of ways; first I free-associate all the different authors and activities and assignments I might want to use, then I fit them into the “grid” of the semester; what would be good as an opening reading? What would work better as a long-middle-of-the-semester slog? What would reenergize students for the end of the semester? All of these considerations help me make sure that my schedule is balanced and that I also won’t get bored or run-down.

What are the things you have to plan that bring you joy in the planning? This is just one of mine, and it really makes me happy to see a course “structure” emerge out of what is just my tangled, messy love of magical realism and helping people write.

5 Comments, RSS

  1. sebland October 21, 2017 @ 1:11 pm

    It is because of teachers like you that I became an artist! Please keep on keeping on!

  2. jenniferguerrero1 October 21, 2017 @ 6:36 pm

    I love planning vacations and recipes!

  3. Princess of the Mists October 22, 2017 @ 10:53 am

    Wow, I wish every teacher did this! It seems that as you progress to university, teachers/professors stop doing it gradually which results (almost always) in a lack of interest from the students. I, too, have my (big) share of professors in college that just can’t seem to plan classes in a way that students can’t transpose to real life: they just tell the subject’s objectives, they don’t explain it. If I wanted to read a book, I would just stay home and read it. I’m a student, and one way I like studying things is to plan it first, it makes it so much easier. And it obviously helps if the teacher does what you wrote.

    Answering your question, I like to plan everything, even if it’s only in my mind. It may be one of the reasons why I hate disorganisation 😛

  4. ICanHazAdulting October 23, 2017 @ 3:05 pm

    As the great Hannibal said “I love it when a plan comes together.” It’s so fun to see all the work you did in advance just fall into place like dominos!

  5. tintotinta311 October 23, 2017 @ 5:09 pm

    I wish a course like this had existed when I was in college. Please share your reading list!

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