Teaching Tip Tuesday: Changing Course Mid-Semester

While most of us aren’t quite mid-semester yet, I’m already facing a decision to backtrack on a key component of my course design. I mentioned teaching CE courses in a pandemic was hard, right? We’ve all likely experienced some version of pivoting in the past 1.5 years thanks to said pandemic, but have you ever had to redesign mid-semester outside of pandemic teaching? How did it go?

When I was a new teacher, I was insecure and stubborn. I’d be willing to ride that bad design straight to hell and back. Now I am way more likely to make adjustments – probably more minor adjustments than anything else, but I’m not so proud that I can’t admit when something isn’t working.

But what do you do if you need to make a big swing? Do you get your students involved? Do you sacrifice your darlings to make it work? Do you risk losing an essential component of the class?

The reason I am even considering these questions is because I’m honestly not in a good enough position after this past summer to be constantly trying to plug holes in a leaky ship. I’m sure I could cobble along, tending to every crisis, and ultimately make it to shore. But I currently lack the resiliency to do that. Maybe we are all lacking resiliency right now. So, maybe we need a backup option that releases the pressure even if it means losing part of the ship.

I think it helps if your initial course design is already somewhat nimble. Thankfully this isn’t the type of course where a change means rebuilding five meticulously crafted online modules midstream. I actually purposely left the LMS mostly in a shell form to allow me the option of having to easily do another pandemic-related pivot if need be.

I also am keeping my students in mind. What is the alternative that is not more work than the original project but still captures the spirit of the original project? I have some thoughts, but I might ask them for their input before proceeding. It’s kind of nerve-wracking to contemplate admitting to a failed design and then asking for their help in fixing it. But maybe that’s a good thing? For them and for me?

I haven’t entirely figured it out yet (clearly). I would value your input if you have any advice on mid-semester changes. I bet my readers would also value your insight. Leave a comment if you like or contact me directly with your thoughts.

Stay tuned for more posts this year about teaching, research, and academia. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @litambitions and Instagram: @ecacademic (where I really nerd out about planning). You can also follow this blog (see the email subscribe button on the home page).

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