Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Conundrum....

Well, that's it for the teaching this year.  Essays are marked for both modules, have been moderated, and the results are due to go back to the office for entry to the computer system to which the whole academic process is in thrall.

I've had a ball teaching this year, and am chuffed to little pieces to have been nominated for one of the Student Union teaching awards - even though I didn't make the shortlist.  That seems to me to be the ultimate accolade, to be nominated by those you teach.  But, before I turn my back completely on this academic year and return to the world of the 19th century, I have one more problem that I have to solve.

Next year, as I'm 'writing up', I really have to maximise my time, and more importantly, sanity and minimise stress as far as possible.  In order to help with this, I've made the decision that I'm only going to teach on one of the modules, and only two hours per week.  But, which module?  This shouldn't be, but is, a problem.

I talked it through with Sweetchild today, and I think that I'm slowly coming to a decision.  My instinct wants me to teach Critical Intro to Law.  It's a fabulous course, and really doesn't feel like work at all.  There is oodles of support for the teaching staff, so you can just concentrate on the teaching while you're given plenty of 'space' to decide how best to teach.  It covers fascinating things, but for me, the great pleasure is that I get to teach the 'new' students - the first years, all shiny and fresh out of the box.  It's a 30 credit module, which means that it covers two terms (twice as much money...), giving me the opportunity to get to know these young people, and most importantly, watch them grow and change - and in some sad cases, decide to drop out.

My intellect (damn it) also has an opinion.  Equity is a 15 credit module, so I'd only have to teach for one term.  I've already taught the course for two years, and while it is seriously hard work, I think I've got the hang of it.  I really enjoyed teaching the revision sessions this year, four hours of lecturing is hard work, but it helps me to see the entirety of the course, and I really appreciate the way that it's structured.  Plus, it's an 'exemption module' as far as Law is concerned, which is a good thing to have on my CV. And, the convenor of the course is The Supervisor, and I don't want to upset her at this critical time.  On the minus side, Equity is hard.  Really hard.  So, while the teaching is only for one term, I probably do as much preparation for those 10 seminars as I do for 20 of Critical Intro.  Plus, I find marking the essays really hard work, The Supervisor has to do far more moderating of my marking than she does the other seminar leaders.

I think that the decision is going to rest on a single point.  I am convinced of the importance of Crit Intro.  The skills and methods of thinking that we teach are essential for any law student who wants to excel in our 'Critical Law School'.  In one of my Equity groups this year I had a clutch of Canadian students, here to do a shortened Law Degree, and who don't do Crit Intro (it's compulsory for first year law students). Because, I believe, that they haven't had the exposure to the critical methods that we teach the first years, they had real difficulty with the way in which we teach Equity.  I had to take remedial action for that group, which seemed to pay off.

Crit Intro is also the module where we pay most attention to the skills of writing university level essays - something that isn't formally covered elsewhere, and something that one of my students identified beautifully in her critically reflective essay on her learning progress this year.

Bugger it.  What is an OldGirl to do?

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