Today was the first day of class in my Ed Psych course. All weekend I was kind of dreading the first day because…well, I don’t know why. I just was. I’ve taught this class plenty of times so it wasn’t nervousness. I’m teaching in my favorite classroom so there was no anxiety about getting to learn the space. I just wasn’t feeling it. As of 9pm last night I was most excited about my new outfit.
A friend texted me early this morning and woke me about 30 minutes before my alarm was scheduled to go off. I read his text and then closed my eyes to get my last stretch of rest. Then my eyes popped open and I had one thought: class starts today! To my surprise, I was excited. I thought about getting out of bed and just getting dressed and eating a good breakfast (as opposed to my usual yogurt or pop tart or instant oatmeal). Then I thought how exhausting my day was going to be so I opted to get more sleep. But I didn’t sleep. I laid there anticipating what I was going to say to my students, if I was going to accept students off of the wait list, how best to organize the classroom, reviewing my lesson plan for the day, deciding which shoes would facilitate all the walking I do around the classroom.
Then my alarm actually went off.
I hopped up out the bed, turned my swag on, and got ready for a new group of students. I went to work, answered emails, ate my yogurt, gathered my materials and headed to class.
And class was awesome blossom.
I had them working in small groups on multiple activities within 20 minutes. Their primary activity (after we defined ‘education’, ‘psychology’, and ‘education psychology’) was to design a course syllabus for a future Ed Psych class. In groups of 4-6 they were to outline daily topics with special attention paid to the order of coverage.
As they worked diligently I strolled around the room listening to their conversations and reading their notes. I posed questions to get them back on track or to (more often) rein in their thinking. After about 30 minutes we came together and each group presented their syllabus. The students made wonderful observations not only about the difficulty of creating a syllabus, but also about the breadth and depth of educational issues and the intersection of social factors, school functioning, development, and learning outcomes.
Yes, they did well. They obviously got what I wanted out of the activity, but most of all, they knew they got what I intended out of the activity.
By the end of class I could tell my students were surprised. They were surprised they actually did meaningful activities on the first day of class, but more surprised they actually learned something from them. I overheard one student say: ‘If this was the first day, I can’t wait to see what happens by Thursday’.
Neither can I.