December 31 Day 1028: Here’s to 2022

The last day of the year brings reflections on the past and hopes for the future. It was a good year with a rough start and a whirlwind finish. The delta and omicron strains of COVID required pivoting from our plans for a return to normal. But by summer, travel was back in full forceContinue reading “December 31 Day 1028: Here’s to 2022”

March 16 Day 738: Finals Reflections

I have been administering oral final examinations over the last two days. Compared to previous quarters, when I had double (or quadruple) the students to manage, it was down right pleasant. The process hasn’t changed except that I administer the interviews in person rather than remotely through Zoom. I noticed more than ever before thatContinue reading “March 16 Day 738: Finals Reflections”

February 8 Day 702: Oral Midterms Again

It’s midterm time and that means a day administering oral interviews. It’s a small class (only 16 students) and I scheduled them all for one day. Today. They started at 9 am and ended at 7 pm. The process hasn’t changed. The questions are variations on previous themes. It really shouldn’t have seemed much differentContinue reading “February 8 Day 702: Oral Midterms Again”

December 15 Day 647: Interview Marathon Part II

My first academic term teaching face-to-face since March 2020 is close to completed. Continuing my COVID practice of assessing students through oral examinations, I recently finished two long days of interviews. This reflection will detail the process and lessons learned (much as I have done in the past as documented in all these posts.) TheContinue reading “December 15 Day 647: Interview Marathon Part II”

December 13 Day 645: Interview Marathon Part 1

I spent 7 hours (plus a few breaks) administering interviews for individual final oral assessments today. I’m halfway done and will complete the rest in another marathon session tomorrow. Every term has one or two students that just give up. The stress and pressure from school, family, and work take their toll. Today, I feltContinue reading “December 13 Day 645: Interview Marathon Part 1”

December 8 Day 640: The Key is Flexibility

It’s the last class meeting of the quarter and students presented their projects in small groups. I reserved three study spaces/meeting rooms that were in close proximity to each other. Everyone had the schedule, the presentation rubric, and knew when and where they had to be. It felt like attending a mini-conference. I’m glad thatContinue reading “December 8 Day 640: The Key is Flexibility”

November 10 Day 612: Have You Asked? The Answer(s) Might Surprise You.

I am forever impressed by the grit and perseverance of my students. In a reflection following the oral assessment, I asked how they were doing—both numerically and free response. The numerical range was -5 to 5 where 5=absolutely fantastic 0=meh -5= truly terrible. The average was 1.2–so more positive than the Autumn 2020 score ofContinue reading “November 10 Day 612: Have You Asked? The Answer(s) Might Surprise You.”

November 8 Day 610: Oral Assessment Redux

Oral assessment was something I adopted during remote teaching mostly to reduce the adversarial relationship between me and my students. By giving the problems in advance and allowing all resources (including Chegg and other online services) for preparation, no one was violating academic conduct rules. However, each student must individually present solutions to a smallContinue reading “November 8 Day 610: Oral Assessment Redux”

March 19 Day 376: The End of Winter

I know it’s a few days until the equinox and the official start to the Spring, but I feel like tonight I am putting Winter (or at the very least winter quarter) to bed. Yesterday I administered the final oral interviews for Abstract Algebra. After struggling through teaching for three remote quarters (Spring 2020, AutumnContinue reading “March 19 Day 376: The End of Winter”

March 6 Day 363: COVID Practices Part I

Exactly a year ago today, the University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce announced classes would be offered remotely for the final week of Winter Quarter 2020. We had three days notice to adjust. The initial plan was a deep clean, a few weeks of remote engagement, including a “soft start” to the Spring quarter,Continue reading “March 6 Day 363: COVID Practices Part I”