Jan. 24th, 2013 02:58 pm
brdgt: (Cardio)
Baby, it's been cold in Wisconsin this week, which is a great excuse to stay inside and be productive and write.

I also started teaching this week and boy did I miss it! So far, my Spring schedule has been working out really well, with huge chunks for writing. I told my second job I couldn't work for them this semester and, while I will miss the extra money, I am already loving having that time and energy back for myself. They are nice people to work with, but I was starting to feel under-appreciated and resentful. I left on good terms and will offer to sub and plan on going back in the summer, but this break will be nice.

I started taking a strength training class at my gym that I think is a good fit for me - just challenging enough, a good time of day, and hopefully will prove to be good cross-training for climbing, running, and frisbee. It's called BodyPump and according to folks on forums it burns around 300 calories in a one hour session, while still being focused on weights rather than cardio. It's at 7:30 in the morning and I'm not so tired after it that I can't go for a run too. It's also on my "Stay At Home" day, so it gets me up and energized early.

Oh, and speaking of climbing - I've been working on incorporating 5.9s into my weekly routine. I can't do every 5.9, but the easier ones or the ones that clearly weren't set by someone 6 feet tall (I miss the days when the gym marked who set what, so you could avoid the routes set by unimaginative tall setters). A good route setter should make it so there is more than one way to do a route (for example, short people tend to have smaller hands and can often use foot holds as hand holds, where as taller people with bigger hands can not - so there is no reason to not set foot holds strategically so you can do a route in more than one way). Anyway, I rarely even do 5.7s anymore (usually just when it's so busy there aren't many options) and can do every 5.8 in the gym... eventually :)
brdgt: (Audrey Reading by iconomicon)
You know what cheers me up? When, after a departmental brown bag on teaching, a professor walks up to you and says "you know, I just kept thinking during brown bag, I wish Bridget was teaching for me this semester."
brdgt: (Grad Student by iconomicon)
Several articles came to my attention today that talk about how teaching and writing (a good portion of your average graduate student's life, regardless of discipline) are not intuitive, but learned - and can thus be improved. I believe this. In writing is it clearer for me - I took writing classes, pay attention to good writing, and teach writing to others. Teaching is harder to explain as a learned skill. People think it's just experience, but it's also experimentation and reflection. What worked? What didn't? Why? I think the first step to being a good teacher is realizing that you can learn how to be one.

(From the Art of History column of the February 2010 issue of Perspectives on History)

How Writing Leads to Thinking
(And not the other way around)

By Lynn Hunt

The Art of History is a new series of articles by senior scholars who are willing to share their thoughts on, and offer advice about, some aspect of the art and craft of historical research and writing, drawing upon their own experiences in particular. The series began with Caroline Walker Bynum’s article "Teaching Scholarship".

Writing is stressful. Sitting in my computer chair my neck and shoulder muscles almost immediately tense up as I dig around in my brain for the best phrase or even any coherent string of words, whether I am writing an essay like this one, a book chapter, a letter of recommendation, or an email message to a friend. Writing is time-consuming. It’s a great way to pass the time on a long airplane flight because you lose track of the passage of time altogether. It’s even better, from that point of view exclusively, than watching an episode of Mad Men on your laptop. Writing means many different things to me but one thing it is not: writing is not the transcription of thoughts already consciously present in my mind. Writing is a magical and mysterious process that makes it possible to think differently.

Read More... )

Building a Better Teacher
By ELIZABETH GREEN, The New York Times, March 7, 2010

ON A WINTER DAY five years ago, Doug Lemov realized he had a problem. After a successful career as a teacher, a principal and a charter-school founder, he was working as a consultant, hired by troubled schools eager — desperate, in some cases — for Lemov to tell them what to do to get better. There was no shortage of prescriptions at the time for how to cure the poor performance that plagued so many American schools. Proponents of No Child Left Behind saw standardized testing as a solution. President Bush also championed a billion-dollar program to encourage schools to adopt reading curriculums with an emphasis on phonics. Others argued for smaller classes or more parental involvement or more state financing.

Lemov himself pushed for data-driven programs that would diagnose individual students’ strengths and weaknesses. But as he went from school to school that winter, he was getting the sinking feeling that there was something deeper he wasn’t reaching. On that particular day, he made a depressing visit to a school in Syracuse, N.Y., that was like so many he’d seen before: “a dispiriting exercise in good people failing,” as he described it to me recently. Sometimes Lemov could diagnose problems as soon as he walked in the door. But not here. Student test scores had dipped so low that administrators worried the state might close down the school. But the teachers seemed to care about their students. They sat down with them on the floor to read and picked activities that should have engaged them. The classes were small. The school had rigorous academic standards and state-of-the-art curriculums and used a software program to analyze test results for each student, pinpointing which skills she still needed to work on.

But when it came to actual teaching, the daily task of getting students to learn, the school floundered. Students disobeyed teachers’ instructions, and class discussions veered away from the lesson plans. In one class Lemov observed, the teacher spent several minutes debating a student about why he didn’t have a pencil. Another divided her students into two groups to practice multiplication together, only to watch them turn to the more interesting work of chatting. A single quiet student soldiered on with the problems. As Lemov drove from Syracuse back to his home in Albany, he tried to figure out what he could do to help. He knew how to advise schools to adopt a better curriculum or raise standards or develop better communication channels between teachers and principals. But he realized that he had no clue how to advise schools about their main event: how to teach.

Read More )
brdgt: (Default)
Fifteen UW-Madison teaching assistants awarded for service

"Bridget Collins, history of science. Collins has established herself as a strong and engaging teacher while teaching three different courses in two different departments. "Bridget is an extremely gifted, engaging and committed teacher who has proved inspirational to many of her students," a nominator writes.

Her students say they enjoy the stimulating discussion and Collins' willingness to help with difficult material. One student evaluator says, "I never really liked to miss...discussion, not because of how it would affect my grade, but because I really liked going."


brdgt: (Default)

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