Tuesdays are for teaching

I try to do all my teaching on Tuesdays.  It took me a while to come to this little strategy, so I thought I would share it in case it is of any use to others.

My courses usually have a lab component and, since our lab holds 32 students, and my courses have several lab sessions per week, it’s helpful to know that I can teach a particular topic early in the week, before students go into the lab.  That way I know they are adequately prepared to start working (my lectures and lab assignments are closely linked).  So why not have classes on Mondays?  I have done that in the past, but found that I like to have a day before my classes to go over them and make any last-minute revisions.  If I did that the preceding Friday, it’s too far ahead for me to keep things fresh in my mind, and I don’t want to do my class prep on the weekend.

In the faculty of Arts and Science, we have two hours of class time per course per week.  In order to get all of that class time finished early in the week, I hold two-hour classes.  There are advantages and disadvantages to having a two-hour class, and I, and I think students, have mixed feelings about them.  Our university has many students who commute long distances to come to class.  Having to do that once a week for a course instead of twice a week is something many students prefer.  Other students though, have told me that trying to absorb a lot of technical information in one two-hour session is a bit much.  I find that the two-hour sessions give me more time to get into a discussion, and that two hours is often sufficent time for a particular topic.  I should mention that I always have a 10 minute break halfway through so students can stretch their legs.  I also do my best not to do all the talking, so that the classes are broken up with discussion.

Since I teach two or three classes per term, I have four hours of class time on Tuesdays, both terms.  This means my Tuesdays are fairly hectic, and I am definitely tired at the end of the day.  However, it also means that I then have the rest of the week, with larger, uninterrupted blocks of time, that I can devote to developing new teaching material, working on other projects, administration, and meeting with students.  To summarize: Mondays are course prep, Tuesdays are in the classroom, and the rest of the week is for everything else.  Everyone has their own preferences, but this approach seems to work best for me and my students.

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