Friday, March 25, 2011

My new course prep strategy: limit prep time

This semester, I am teaching a grad level course on a topic with overlaps in my research specialty that I have taught before. I have an insane amount of work to do right now, including lots and lots of writing. To help out on time management, I have decided to limit my course prep time to 90 minutes or less for an hour long class.

So far, this seems to be making my course run much better, actually. I selected the papers I am covering last time, so I just need to refamiliarize myself with the details rather than start out digesting new material. I am finding that my course feels less stiff and rehearsed, since I am spending more time on how to convey the content, and less time obsessing over slides and lectures. The students are responding well, and I feel like I am doing a better job this semester of imparting the key ideas. I would never do this with material I didn't know this well, but I am also having a lot more fun, since I feel less constrained in class to stick to a preprepped lecture if the class seems more interested in something else on topic. Who knew that too much time prepping can be as bad as not enough?


Anthea said...

Mmmmm, I had not thought of the idea of being overprepped.

GMP said...

True -- you can totally be overprepared to the point of being stifled. I am happy that you are finding your groove!

I found that, once I eased up on preparation and trimmed some fat out of my courses (distilled what's key from the rest), I was more relaxed, had more time to drill in these key concepts, listen to students more, and overall the teaching evals went up while my stress went down. Win all around!