I wished to implement the same strategy that worked well for 2BSc in 2MSc class – parameters for the subject fit, plus there was a much smaller class – much less to teach. But I missed a major factor – the students’ attitude.
This is how I treated the subject in 2BSc a semester before – I started very slow – two months for a unit, one half for second unit, half a month for third, a week for fourth and 3-4 days for fifth. It was fairly successful there – as there was more than 50% of the class above 75% marks, of which a great deal was above 90% marks.
But in 2MSc – you have already learned a lot that you are reluctant to change your ways – compared to 2BSc, for whom it was the first course in Analysis. They were headstrong. I started slow, and eventually found myself pleading them to read at least once a week and follow what is being taught. They did not. I decided to tighten the grip, contrary to my decision not to mind if they study or not, embossed in tears in one of the previous posts.
First reminder for them was 1CA – the question paper was stupidly simple. Every word there, I had taught in the class – to score 50/50, all you had to do is read tiny things I discussed in class and that’s it! And as expected, most of the class came back with a score less than 25 – I thought your eyes will open after the confession all of you made in private to me that “For your paper, we should start studying early!”
Ugh. No. Two weeks of grace period finished, and no sign of change. And I was forced to take the next blow – deny them of notes, so that they realise that they can’t afford to open the book only the day before exam. Who cares if we fail?
All these had already taken me off my pace – aim was to take all time to teach unit 1, then I have to spend less time on unit 2, which is the generalisation of unit 1. Unit 1 was ignored, forced me to spend more time on unit 2, making things slow down a lot.
Apart from that, the focus of my training was to teach them to read and comprehend definitions and theorems themselves, and to write theorems themselves. Steps and care was taken to present things slowly, but you ignored it from first day onwards – and how can I teach you to master it the day before exam, when you come and ask me for it?
I knew I am late – by the time it was 2 CA. 2 of 39 students were in the league, a plus one, goes without saying. Having closely observed their skill in subject, I had already identified 4 who are exceptionally brilliant (trust me, one of them failed in end semester!), another 20 who could do magic with the subject given a bit of sharpening.
Fact that as a mass, they are declined my appeal to them, I decided to attempt convincing them personally – of 24 I mentioned above, I approached all 22 (two of them, without any intervention, had it under control), of which nearly 10 promised to come, never turned up. The heart to heart sessions with rest 12, were infinitely effective, but most of them failed to take it forward, except two or three of them. I would end the sessions with a request to sit and work harder for next two weeks before semester exams, but the fruits of it, I saw it only in the paper of a handful of them
Then came the next surprise. Since they were going for “educational” tour, I am going to lose 3 of 5 last classes I had designated for 3rd unit, which came in as a bombshell – I was already running late given the tantrums they put me in, and I lost all interest to teach them – had they learned the way I wanted them to, 2 days were more than enough to cover whole unit!
Original plan for unit 3 was to make them explore it themselves – reading and comprehending definitions themselves, writing theorems themselves. But it’s too late already, plus, time’s restricted.
I forced myself through it, giving focus to main theorems and explaining it in and out. Not to do injustice, I shared the notes well in ahead, asked them to read through, prepare and come – I need not mention that only one of 39 read through it at least once.
End semester, as I expected, betrayed me as well. Setter asked questions in my section justly (but ignored the injustice in favour of students previous years), and that gave a prefect ending to it all.
To refute their claims against me, which goes four fold far as I see:
- We don’t want to understand the subject this much: Don’t! But I don’t want you to go out there and tell anyone that I taught you this subject and you don’t know a jack about it.
- You should have given us the notes: First of all, it was my plan to. You forced me out of it. Secondly – same paper, Ruby gave you notes for every word she taught. Then why did you not write her portions, which asked exact repeat questions?
- Why should we know to read and understand definitions and write theorems ourselves? Just talk to some BSc students, from any good institute – they will make you faint. That’s your level – in other words, these are skills you should have developed in your UG, you’re struggling with it in your PG! Shame on you.
- Maaarkkkss! Sorry, you’re talking to a wrong person.
I must confess that I was busy and unavailable to you outside classrooms until mid semester, given the admin work in college which kept me busy till midnight everyday – which, on your request, I dropped it risking all possible consequences. There’s been days in which I was forced to cancel the class moments before I walked in – but I believe I made up to it by making sure I’m available to you last two months, whenever you asked me to.
Then those unprepared classes – mostly because I was jam packed with works and more kept showering in – is no excuse for it. But eventually I reoriented myself to give teaching my first priority.
The days I lost my temper since you didn’t come prepared – sorry for that as well. It was the frustration of being denied, which doubled, tripled, and an attempt to avoid what happened at the end – that I lose interest in teaching the subject.
Impact of this coursework in my professional life also matters:
- I quit most of the admin work in college, risking my job itself.
- I went out of my way to convince you to do it, and I failed.
- Most of you hate me now, because I apparently didn’t make life easier for you, give you notes, didn’t give you easy questions, shouted at you multiple times, even after you all stating that you don’t care, I kept pressurising you.
- All job security I had till date – involvement in college, in department, in other departments, a little favour in eyes of HOD – dropped it all the second I said “I need to focus on my students and classes – I am not ready to do it until sem break”. Add to the wound to different people, I was unable to keep my word as I fell sick soon after the semester. I’m at the dawn of my job.
Anyway – y’all are done with me for lifetime, so, let’s keep all these hard feelings aside and move on, forget each other.
Was not my focus for the semester – but some good came out of it. IE went well, but class did not take full advantage of it – notes were prepared, but no one cared to get it from each other, less practice lead to confusion on paper. Since it’s the first time with the paper for me, that did reflect in teaching. CV was mostly lectures, but there were rough ends as well – mainly me getting bored and losing all interest to teach any further, partially influenced by Topology above. That’s it about this paper – we had some fun. Also, I could consider your request for more teaching opportunities with 3CA – which focussed on making you better students, better teachers and better critiques of teaching-learning system.
Not the best, but better than last time. Realisation that minute details irrelevant to exam could be skipped in class struck me late – which also contributed to their disinterest in the subject. Lectures didn’t work with them; as they had their reaction to near zero. But partial SCL did the magic! I had them with me in classes where I made them explore it rather than lectures, hence eventually spend all energy on it.
I learned that each class is a whole different world – and need to measure them properly before I take a step forward. But lovely papers for end semester!
Though it started off at the bottom of the list, this class had all my attention, through the semester. I never solved a problem for them, they lived up to the challenge – the whole class, soon made it into my favourite list. The pace I told you about for 2MSc – worked perfect with this class – and they experimented, came up with their own methods which I personally never knew – it was fun.
I noticed that 1BSc is more open to changes, more open to work harder (and I wish they make it a habit!) compared to 2MSc, who acts as if they know it all, dead set not to change. Made me rethink my wish for all-PG semester. May be next time on, I’d prefer 2-3 UG and 1 PG instead of all three PG!
IQAC was at its prime, with odd jobs from The Caesar himself, and then from General of the Army kept me busy – a lot busy – that made me compromise a bit on teaching, leading to boring, unprepared lectures every now and then. Wherever I laid my hands on, came out pretty well and neat – to get good comments from high up-s and future high up-s. But dropped it all in a second when I realised that teaching has been forced to take a backseat, promising to get right back soon after the semester. But by then I fell sick. Sickness robbed life itself from me – both teaching and other works. Fact that it was a consequence of my own irresponsibility of past, I have no one to blame, than me myself. But lesson learned, with least damages than painful two months (and one or two more expected).
Relationships were at its best.With students, with colleagues, with friends. I recovered the forgotten personal life, which I had downplayed to accomodate more of professional life. Chip’s death was a shocker – spend hours crying, though the world never saw even a drop of tear. Made me rethink, rework my work philosophy. A foreigner, who had nothing to do with me or my life – loved me like his own son (in fact, he used to say, “I feel like Niko’s home when you’re around!”), earned that love back, too. He made me coin the ultimate scale for freelance jobs: “The one I am working for, are they “Chip-worhty”?” Aka, are they as innocent as, genuine as, a person worth respecting as Chip? If so, no matter how Himalayan the task is, it’s a yes from me. But unfortunately, I never found anyone Chipworthy yet, in my life so far, than my dad and may be TR is close enough.
Sickness made me mature a lot – learn to put my energy under control, avoid getting over excited et al. Also, made me health conscious. Before it peaked, by September end, after one such review posts which I later deleted, I had decided and started to exercise, drink water regularly, join a gym, fix food situation by starting to cook, look more into restricting work to department, till 5 in evening, wake up early enough, meditation and warm up, list goes on. All spoiled in a month by a tiny fever, later transcribed into back pain and all drama followed. As I write, it’s spiking again, forcing me to restrict this post to a semester review, instead of a yearly review.