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That’s a Wrap!(?)

by Erin Kraal, CEL Director

Do you keep careful, organized, reflective teaching notes throughout the semester in a searchable document that is cross-referenced to your D2L course? If so, then this might not be the post for you.


If you are like me, well, I always intend to keep an organized reflective teaching journal. It usually starts as a file where I take a quiet 10 minutes to record my thoughts after each class — for the first 2 weeks or so. The 10 quiet minutes after class start to disappear around the drop/add period. The full demise usually occurs as students stay after class and I scramble off to meetings. Pretty soon, that ‘quiet 10 minutes’ is later in the day (or the next day!), so I’ve scribbled some thoughts down in my agenda book. Then, it starts to morph. There are post-it notes everywhere, scribbles on my printed slide sets, a separate file with a revision of an assignment, and maybe even a whole handwritten page somewhere.  (please return to the start of this paragraph and repeat the process for each class!)


By now, it’s the end of the semester, and I’m faced with multiple files, post-it notes, slide revisions, and scribbles on paper. Plus, I have all my student feedback surveys. I think 'I’ll just get all this organized for next year when I teach this again.' But before long I’m overwhelmed all over again. I’ll forget to not schedule a project due on Friday or to make the group-work days match up with the discussion posts submission dates. Or that groups of 4 worked better than groups of 3. I'll forget that the reading for week 4 ended up being a mismatch with the content covered.

Wait, was that for my GenEd class, or the upper-level course?


I’ve developed a little end-of-semester wrap-up. You might not find all those post-it notes or hidden gems in your notes app, but this can help you reflect on what went well, and prepare for the next time. Give yourself 15 minutes to get these thoughts out and save it with your materials for the next go-round. 


Sample wrap-up document


Class: Semester:


  • What are some activities that went really well?

  • Which skills/topics did students struggle the most? Why?

  • Which learning objectives did students have the most success? What might have made those work better than others?

  • What were some things that were frustrating/challenging/unsuccessful this semester

  • What is one thing I would most like to change? How can I go about doing this?

  • The one thing I don’t want to forget when I teach this course is:


Dr. Erin Kraal is the current Faculty Director for the Center for Engaged Learning and a professor in the Department of Physical Sciences where she teaches planetary science, astronomy, geology, and science writing. She is particularly interested in exploring how faculty teach and students learn the process of science. In her non-work time, she likes to hike, travel, and cook and has recently taken up a new hobby of learning to watercolor (yeah, YouTube videos!)


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