First Semester is in the books

I just handed in the packet of final exams and the paperwork I have to submit as an Adjunct Professor at the college where I teach my intro to Database class.  A friend of mine who has been a Professor for over 20 years posted something I’ve seen him put up several years, but it really struck a chord now that I was familiar with it.As a student, I remember the feeling of relief when I was done with my last exam.  This time, the feeling of stress kicked in when my last student handed in his final.  I had two days after the final to hand in everything for the semester.  That was definitely an interesting 48 hours.  Still, got it done, and now I’m going to relax.

For like, a day :(.  As a new Adjunct, I was brought in close to the start date of the semester so there wasn’t enough time to train me on the system.  Did everything via One Drive and paper, which was easier, but created a lot more work.  Going to spend the next several weeks taking my scattered material and centralize it all, create online tests instead of word docs, etc.

Things I learned this semester:

  1. I may know a lot about databases, but being able to describe a point from different examples is huge.  I’ve always been able to do this, didn’t know how handy it would come in.
  2. The students enjoyed learning about the real world applications of everything we talked about.  How to deal with interviews, office politics, how to approach specific people with issues, etc.
  3. Had some great conversations that at times, got away from me.  Need to be aware of it, and steer them back on course.
  4. I learned a lot about what I knew and what I didn’t both technically and from a teaching standpoint.
  5. I will make sure that I have things more specific as far as instructions – what something is worth, what happens when it’s late, etc.
  6. Asking the students what they would change during the last class was super helpful, and I believe it made them feel good that I asked for and listened to their opinions.  Going to focus more on direct query writing and the syntax and less on the higher level interactivity between servers, etc.
  7. Four hours is a long time to stand and lecture, even breaking up the time with lab work.
  8. Always pee before you go in because they’ll have questions and then you won’t have time to until the first break.  Doing the pee-pee dance in front of a classroom is not something I wanted to do.
  9. Talking to your students like they’re adults will change some of them.  Had a few people really make large jumps in the level of interest and maturity with a little guidance, a bunch of email conversations, and some well-timed (and well deserved) “Nice Jobs!”
  10. I loathe Microsoft Access as a teaching tool.
  11. I am not as worried about the generation as I was before the class.
  12. Don’t be afraid to admit you were incorrect about something and make sure you go over the correct way and talk about why you were incorrect.  This wasn’t a problem, I just confused them until I told them why I thought the way I did originally.
  13. The class unanimously enjoyed the style that I taught.  They liked being engaged, having me call on them, encourage them to talk to one another and not just me.
  14. Need to do some team project work.  Would like to see if it’s possible to do that with a programming class – some do front end, some do back-end – the final project is a presentation of a working application.

I’m sure I’ll think of more, but if you have any advice – especially on team projects, I’d welcome it!