Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What Could Have Been

At Xavier University of Louisiana, way back on August 22-26, we had five days of classes for the Fall Semester 2005 before the hurricane. I had a feeling that it was going to be my best semester ever as a teacher. First, I had great students. Teachers sort of get a vibe about the dynamics of a section from the very beginning. I desire a mixture of brainiacs and goofballs. The goofballs help with discussions because they say stupid funny things, and these stupid funny things upset the brainiacs and force them to come out of their silent shyness. I had a great mixture of both in all of my sections. One student, Jene', I had planned on stealing from the history department. She was a Freshman who was fascinated with ancient Near Eastern history. I couldn’t wait to teach her. I also had some students, Richard and Kirsten, who were in the play Purlie with me. It is sort of fun in my opinion to know students out of the classroom context. One of my students, Kory, was a techno wiz and I wanted very much to discuss with him ways that I could use technology to make me a better teacher.

Second, I had a great schedule. At Xavier we have a 4/4 teaching load, which is ridiculous in my opinion, because Xavier was trying to become a serious research center. The 4/4 load fit in years past when Xavier was strictly a teaching college. I did plenty of research and publishing, but their expectations with research necessitated a 3/3 load, which I felt was only a few years away. All that has changed now, but back to my schedule. I taught 3 sections of Theology 1120: Intro to Biblical Studies on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with back-to-back-to-back sections. I started at 8 AM and finished just after noon, teaching the same stuff three times. That was challenging but I loved it. For my fourth class I was teaching Methods of Biblical Studies, it was an upper division course that met Wednesday nights, and I had only 12 students. Plus, these were students that I had previously taught. They were my best and brightest, all of them doing very well in previous courses. Two of them, Whitney and Roy, were future Bible scholars. So my great schedule meant I had five days to do serious research (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun). I was going to finish the Atlas and had two articles lined up for publication in peer reviewed journals. Plus I was going to apply for early promotion to the rank of Assistant Professor, and do all sorts of extra stuff. One of the things that I was doing was a study by Barbara Walvoord about how good teachers actually teach introductory Theology/Religion courses. It was a chance for me to do a great deal of reflection on how I teach and how students learn.

Now instead of all that I’m sitting in a freezing basement in Omaha spending most of my time working on an insurance claim. Once in a while I get an email from a Xavier student updating me on their status or just reminiscing. So Xavier students, feel free to email me at mmhoman at yahoo.com.

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