i have officially finished teaching my workshop at the University. the final review was on tuesday and i spent about 18 hours grading and giving what ended-up being lengthy comments to each of my 20 students before the last day of class on thursday. it might be obvious from the lack of activity on this blog, how consuming this teaching-process has been for me. but the sure-fire sign is the fact that i started getting sick on wednesday morning - release of pressure after the review? most certainly!
i have touched on this subject earlier on this blog, but because this was my first time teaching, i found myself over-analyzing every little thing. wondering if my intentions for each exercise worked out as i had envisioned. were my students learning anything? when designing the workshop, there were a couple broad notions that i wanted my assignments to provoke and that i wanted my students to take away:
1) i wanted them to have the experience of working through the design process - to have gone through the basic steps so that they could have a point of reference for learning about the tools that work well for them, the steps of the process that could have informed them better, and simply a means for approaching a new project with some insight into themselves.

2) i wanted them to become conscious of the power of editing and consistency in the presentation of their work -- considering the idea of marketing and how the notion of product could be extended beyond a physical object; considering their ideas or even themselves as products.

3) i wanted to instill a practice of allowing time for documentation ... i set a standard format for all of my assignment sheets and used the same standard format (in print and digitally) as the required outcome for all of the exercises leading up to the final project. the last assignment was for them to compile the work they had generated into a 'folio' of sorts - that was mostly about record-keeping for themselves. part of this allotment of time included intentionally scheduling the review for the 2nd to the last day of class so that the last day of class could function as a recap - an opportunity to talk about how they felt the review went and for me to hand back grades.

the recap day (hopefully) allowed my students to put the final review into perspective. as hard as it can be to get students to converse in a class this size, we had a good discussion about the positive and frustrating feelings that came out of presenting their work to guest jurors who viewed it and critiqued it with fresh eyes and professional perspectives. the recap allowed me to share with them the lessons that i felt they should be taking away from both the review and the workshop - and it also evolved into a mini re-view where they gave me feedback on the workshop itself. they all filled out anonymous course evaluations, which i am sure i will see at some point in time ... but honestly the discussion was the very best closure i ever could have asked for. (that and the handful of students who came and thanked me before they left.) i felt, finally, that i could look objectively at the course and see the opportunities for tweaking, but more importantly (for my sanity) to acknowledge its many successes. {s i g h} now i just need to get over this sickness...
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