I’ve just submitted my grades for Spring 2018 and launched my online “Maymester” course. How is that possible? This semester went by very quickly. I did, however, manage to make several improvements on the latest iteration of those courses that I teach on a regular basis. These improvements were mostly small things that involved providing more detail about expectations, more chances for students to submit drafts and get feedback from me and from others, and allowing more time for discussion of certain topics as well as for working on assignments. I did these things because of the checklist that I follow at the end of each semester, and that checklist includes a reminder to catalog all those things that worked well in my teaching as well as those things that need improvement.
Checklists are an easy way to prompt yourself to do the things you might otherwise neglect, or forget, to do.
Back in December of 2009, Ethan wrote up some advice explaining his own end-of-semester checklist. Here’s the overview:
Backup my course websites
Update my CV
Write an “End of the Semester Roundup” post on my blog
Shred exams/papers from X number of semesters Ago
Backup my class materials
Unplug powered items in my office
I would also recommend that you visit Natalie’s “Wrapping Up the Semester” and Maha’s “5 Ways to Make End-of-Semester Grading More Enjoyable.”
To this advice from my fellow ProfHackers I add this: Each semester I take notes about what’s working and what isn’t in my courses, about which presentations or explanations need improvement or updating, which course documents need correction or re-design, which assignments need to be revised (or eliminated). Unfortunately, I am often too busy to organize these notes into anything useful. So I have a reminder in my calendar on the last day of the term to prod me to do the work of re-visiting what I thought were great suggestions to myself as these last several weeks have gone by. This habit has worked pretty well for me lately.
It’s incredibly simple, I know, but it works.
How about you? What end-of-semester advice do you have to share? Please let us know in the comments.
This post is an updated draft of one I published around this time last year. What can I say? I like lists.