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November 28, 2011, 8:48 pm

Not to pat myself on the back, but I’ve become a somewhat better lecturer in the past couple of years. The improvement is mostly an outgrowth of comfort. I know the material well enough now that I can focus more on performance: projecting my voice with emotion, hitting the laugh lines, etc. At the same time, I’m able to build narrative arc in most of my lectures while maintaining analytical continuity.

This is all to the good, of course, but there is a problem: I fear that my course management may be slipping a bit. In short, as I’ve grown more confident about giving my lectures, I’ve become a bit less careful about making sure that my instructions for papers and other assignments are crystal clear; about clarifying for my readers and TAs, before they begin their grading, what I think constitutes an outstanding essay; and about making sure that classes begin precisely on time.

The thing is, I suspect that even though I’m more entertaining and maybe more edifying in some ways, my students would rather have me focus my attention on management and logistics. I don’t know this for sure, but I’d be willing to bet that I’m right. I’ll let you know after my course evaluations come in and are tabulated.

In some ways, this is just me musing as the end of the quarter draws near. But in others, I think it’s worth my remembering that teaching hinges on organization and attention to detail as well as deft presentation of information — or perhaps that these things are complementary. Probably everyone knows this already, and I’ve just embarrassed myself. (“Wait, I’ve had that piece of spinach in my teeth all day?”) But nobody ever taught me this stuff, so maybe it’s worth mentioning.

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