I thought maybe I’d wrap up this semester with some notes and statistics while I listen to Los Straitjackets’ Christmas album. It’s the cheeriest slab of holiday instrumentals you’re ever likely to hear. Highly recommended!!
- Classes taught – 6; 4x 16-week & 2x 8-week: 18 credit hours total
- Campus breakdown – 2x GMU/Fairfax, 2x NVCC/Woodbridge, 2x NVCC/Annandale
- Course breakdown – 2x History of Western Civ I, 2x History of Western Civ, 1x US History I, 1x US History II
- Students – 210; 20x US History, 190x Western Civ
- Class sizes – 10, 10, 61, 47, 59, 23
- Grade breakdown – A, 81; B, 56; C, 43; D, 10; Earned F*, 18; Unearned F, 2
- Average grade, ignoring Unearned F – 79.68 (C+ or B- depending on attendance/homework completion)
- Median grade, ignoring Unearned F – 86.61 (B)
- Highest overall grade – 102 (A+)
- Lowest overall earned grade – 9.167 (F)
- Class with the most A grades – 23
- Class with the most Earned F grades – 10
- Students caught cheating on papers/exams – 4 (Earned F)
While my largest class this semester was 61, that’s not the largest class I’ve ever had. I’ve had multiple classes of 70-75; the highest I ever had was one year when NVCC was renovating one of its main classroom buildings and I had 102 one semester and 110 the following semester. Once they finished the building renovations, everything went back to normal. I don’t mind big classes. I know a lot of teachers say they love small classes because it lets them get to know the students better – and that’s certainly true – but small classes are a lot more pressure simply because you HAVE to get to know the students better. I find it affects my objectivity at the end of the semester – “Oh, Nancy got a 65, which is a D, but remember that time when her kid was sick for three weeks? Yeah, she should totally get a C.”
My Friday class this semester was weird for three reasons: 1) it consisted entirely of adults – the youngest student was, I think, 25 or 26; 2) it was a 16-week hybrid – I’ve only ever taught 8-week hybrids before; and 3) it met during the daytime!! That’s right, it started at 0800 – the first time I’ve ever taught a weekday daytime course. It was actually challenging – having to come up with 16 weeks worth of in-depth assignments (and grading ALL OF THEM!). (It actually came to 13 assignments – 2 weeks off for exams & 1 week off for Thanksgiving.) It was a good class, though, and I got a lot out of it.
Thus ends my 26th semester of teaching (plus 13 summer terms). Since my first class in Fall 2001, I’ve only been idle one semester – Fall 2003. I’ve taught at least one summer class every year since 2003! By my calculations, I’ve taught a total of 84 classes – mostly Western Civilizations, but probably 30% US History, maybe a little more. Eleven of those classes have been for GMU (1st in Fall 2010), the rest at NVCC.
All in all, 2014 was a good year – 11 classes overall, probably close to 500 students. It’s still my favorite work-type thing to do, so I’m going to keep doing it!!
* The difference between an Earned F and an Unearned F is simple – if you turn in at least one assignment and still get an F, that’s Earned. The Unearned F (a zero) comes from somebody who shows up one or two times, then stops coming but never drops the class. My policy is if you show up once, it’s now your responsibility to drop the class and I won’t do it. NVCC requires that I drop students who don’t show up in the first 2 or 3 weeks; GMU doesn’t have this requirement, but I take roll and email students who don’t show up and encourage them to drop. If they don’t, that qualifies as THEIR PROBLEM!