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Thursday, October 15th, 2009 08:31 pm
I got an email today from the instructor who I mentioned visited my class Tuesday. (An activity which instructors may well be meant to do each quarter with each TA, but which has never been performed by any other instructor for whom I TA'd.) It was about two lines long, with an attachment in the form of a letter. Seriously, he sent me a letter via email. With a blank bit where if it had been printed out he would have signed it.

It was a really nice letter. I mean, it was an evaluation of my teaching, and as such it consisted largely of a summary of what I did in class Tuesday, with some commentary and some suggestions about what I could have done better. But it said nice things (specific nice things! also general nice things) and he'd forwarded it to all the conceivably relevant people in the department (Paul, department chair, person in charge of graduate students, person in charge of calculus) because he was so pleased. I don't know why this last makes me so happy, but it does. So.

Also the suggestions make me happy. They were mostly about the examples I'd chosen to work, which I do choose a bit too much in haste and at random, I think. He did advocate using the back board* (!) which I guess I'll ask about, since it seems so odd to me to do so.

* In the set-up, common in larger classrooms dedicated to math, of having one fixed board and two in front of it which move up and down on some sort of pulley system. The front and middle boards move independently, of course, and what I (and most people I've seen) do is write alternately on the front and middle boards, having the one not in use (covered by the most recent work) pushed up above.
Friday, October 16th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
Congratulations on your good work. :)
Also, it's kind of adorable that he sent you a letter via e-mail.

Hm, I'm curious about an effective way to use the back board... It would let you write more without erasing, but you couldn't have all three showing at once...
Friday, October 16th, 2009 03:17 am (UTC)

I guess there would be less total board-moving and erasing (though no more work showing) if you did as he suggests, which is use first the middle boards, then the fronts, then the backs. But this seems like a bad trade if you are going to have to return to the middle boards, which normally in an hour you do. It's possible I wouldn't return to them much in half an hour, though, especially in the room he was observing in (which has more board space than the other I teach in, I think). I don't think I pay very careful attention.
Friday, October 16th, 2009 03:22 am (UTC)
Yay! :)
Yeah, I've never heard of using the back one.
Friday, October 16th, 2009 03:25 am (UTC)
Well, I have seen it happen. But only people writing on the back board, then being disapointed that there's no way to write any more without blocking what was written.
Friday, October 16th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC)
Yeah, I know, the suggestion came up in that article you were given, and it just seemed so absurd. But this makes it seem more reasonable, since it comes now from an authority I trust more...
Friday, October 16th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
Does the room have more than one set of boards, so you wouldn't have to cover up what you last wrote?

Seems less absurd, in this case. I can't imagine the small time-savings is worth having to ever cover up the last thing you wrote.
Friday, October 16th, 2009 04:30 am (UTC)
The room I was in has two boards, yeah. I'll talk to John on Monday and tell you what his story is.
Monday, October 19th, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
This is what John said, that when there are two sets of boards you should use the back ones. I'm still a bit unsure about it, but that's his claim.
Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)
I guess it does save a little time, at the expense of having the visible boards not a continuous history of what you've done (one is hidden, and then they can see the one before that). I suppose that could even be an advantage (maybe making the statement of a theorem and the first lemma visible instead of the proof of the first lemma), depending on the structure of the lecture and what it's important to see when.

So I dunno either.