also, like, laura roslin
aha see and i am a ‘need everything in hardcopy so it can be placed in a meticulously organised and timelined and colour-coded divided binder’ person, so that may be a ymmv thing. digital stresses me out bc i can’t annotate it as well.
Yes: multimedia is important. Basically most of my feedback to instructors I observe could boil down to “ymmv.” Different things will work for different students! HEYO. I often like to write on instructions, too. God help me if I can hang onto my own scribbles, though. (Also let me just say that my heart SINGS when my students annotate their handouts.)
dunno how well this works with yr relationship with yr syllabus, but historyprof handed out three different syllabi throughout the semester (for major changes), all on different coloured paper. ‘twas brilliant.
That’s a great idea! Though part of me is a little… is it 1996? Mostly because I am the kind of person who cannot hang on to a piece of paper for more than ten minutes, hardcopy syllabi stress me the fuck out. I like to keep everything digital (though I distribute hard copies of assignments and in-class handouty things, too), so that I know there is only one official copy, and that everyone has access to the exact same thing at all times.
What color are we? When is yellow? Where is now? is a struggle I would prefer to avoid.
micathemineral asked: (you can publish this) it's always been important for me to have things written down that I can trust absolutely- knowing the syllabus is /sacred/ and will always be followed, and assignments all have physical (or emailed) handouts that give ALL the relevant info, and if anything changes THAT gets emailed, and there is a promise that nothing important will be only communicated via verbal notification. Nothing left vague or uncertain or spontaneously changed? Um. that's all I got.
HANDOUT FUCKING QUEEN RIGHT HERE. To the point where my peeps at the Center for Teaching and Learning have started saying, ‘Yeah okay but Soph thinks that would be better with a handout.’ If it’s not visual and spoken (and spoken more than once), get it OUT OF MY LIFE.
My syllabus will never be sacred, because MY dumb brain means I will never be able to commit that hard (and some fungibility is usually for the better, actually). But I do make it clear on day one (and on the thing itself) that it’s subject to change, the only copy that matters is a digital one on which I mark changes with verbal indicators and font color, I make it really clear when I’m making changes (and I usually do it less by fiat than by consensus), changes are always in favor of later deadlines or less work, always made at least one class meeting in advance, and always discussed both in class and via e-mail. Please accept this humble substitute for a capacity for certainty.
ETA: given possibilities for change, is there anything else that would make you feel more comfortable with that possibility? (I don’t want to make YOU, Mica, responsible for this, but just to say that I am very open to suggestions!)
(The academic equivalent of turning into one’s mother: my advisor is famous for sending retroactive syllabi on the last day of class, a record of what was actually done.)
THIS IS ME. give me a month to write 3000 words and i can’t do it, give me three hours and it’s done.
Let us sing the song of our people. (Since that exam, this has been the song of my people.)
This might be why being ABD is one of the worst things that has ever happened to me.
amalnahurriyeh asked: (Feel free to publish if you want.) My accessability statement is boilerplate, but I stand up on the first day and say "look, I'm the daughter of mentally ill father & a learning disabled mother and I spent six years of my life in a wheelchair. You can talk to me." And they do. I also explain what disability services does, and why you should go to them if you might need support. My basic principle is if I make it clear i actually care, the students who need support have better odds of asking.
I’m in the process of learning as much as I can about exactly how disability services and other support mechanisms work on this campus, and I deffo will include some version of the boilerplate – but I want to have more than the boilerplate, too. I love your announcement – I definitely want to do a better job of being up-front on day one, instead of making ad-hoc course-corrections (HAHA I DID A PUN) as I go.
Mostly, I am so distrustful of institutions, and so I want those among my students who might share that distrust to know that there is still room for them in my class.
And yes: SURPRISE, if you give a shit about them, your students will have a better time and – gasp! – LEARN MORE AND BETTER. Howzabout that.
It is also perhaps relevant that I have a reputation for a special kind of insanity, being one of the only people in my program who will profess to having had a transcendent experience writing my 24-hour candidacy exam. I wrote 10,000 words (well, with some pretty fat quotations) and knew things that I could not otherwise have known. I met my limit and went past it and understood why people undergo extreme ritual trials. I am still going back to that document, a few years on, and still finding it generative.
Nothing like a gun to your head to make you write like you were born to write, say I. Give me an immovable hard deadline like that and I will do almost anything.
… Yes, I realize I am the exception here.
lady-mephisto asked: (you can publish this) i'll need to think about that a bit more to give a proper answer, but i had a prof who gave two 5 hour take home midterms (sit down, work for 5 hours, finish the exam, no starting & stopping) and they were the most hellish things i've ever done pls don't do that. it was a cs course so it mayn't be something you'd ever think of doing but, just in general, timing on assignments is important as someone with focus issues + serious problems working in silence
Uh, yeah. NOTED. I’ve only given exams in one course, and they were both open-book take-homes completable in about 5-8 hours, with a 60-hour window in which to complete them. I probably won’t give exams this term, but those were fun – the point was for my students to trick their brains into writing some wacky essays, by not calling them formal papers and not holding them to a high standard of formal argumentative prose. They did some amazing fucking work. I try not to do things with rigid time constraints, ever. *shudder*
Okay, crazyfriends, friends with disabilities, friends who (have) struggle(d) with academic shit and would (have) prefer(red) not to struggle quite so much: real question time.
I’m starting on my syllabi for next term – one introductory and one midlevel seminar in English literature, more detail not necessary but available upon private request – and I’d love to have your input on a few things.
- I want to develop an accessibility statement that doesn’t suck. Mostly, I don’t want my students to think that they have to have a diagnosis, or a set of accommodations on file with Disability Services, or to disclose anything at all to me or to anyone in order to ask me for adjustments that will help them. What kind of language on a syllabus would you want to see? Or not see?
- In terms of mechanics – course design, assignment design, the language of syllabi and assignments, the nature/genre of assignments, format of readings, technologies used in the classroom, etc – what best facilitates your getting what you want out of a class? What really impedes it?
- What am I not thinking of? What front-end elements of a course need to be thought about from an accessibility standpoint? What do you wish instructors in higher ed thought about more systematically?
Right now I’m thinking only about the course-design side of things, and specifically about syllabus language and assignment-design. It is perhaps relevant that I teach at a very pre-professional four-year ~elite~ private university with a pretty extreme culture of ~achievement~ that I like to resist with every fiber of my teacherly being.
You can comment on this post, send me an ask or a fanmail, or email me at gratiasophia at gmail. (Fanmails and e-mail will be treated as confidential unless you explicitly indicate otherwise. Comments are obviously already public. If you send an ask and would like it to be confidential, please note that.)
You can also totally disregard this request and I will not think a single thing of it.