First post of a new semester

So we just finished the third fourth week of school, and I haven’t written anything here yet.

The math department was in an especially desperate situation this semester– one week before the semester started, there was somehow a surge of unexpected new students, and 800 people were on a waiting list wanting to take college algebra.  I really don’t understand how something like that happens, but then I don’t know much about how that sort of administrative thing works.  The university was frantically trying to get us more classroom space, and the department was moving people around in an effort to create more College Algebra sections.

At the same time, for the first time since 2008, I had a class whose initial registration count was under 30.  Way under.  It was originally 14 students in one of my sections of Calculus for Life Science.

I cannot emphasize enough how bizarre that is.  I haven’t had a class for the past two years that started with less than 40.  Usually it’s 48, which is the fire-marshal limit for our classrooms.  And since this happened at the same time that the department was scrambling to get more college algebra, I just kept my head down, and hoped that they wouldn’t notice me and kill my class.

And now I’ve got a class of 17, for the first time since I was a grad student teaching developmental math.  And it’s glorious.  It’s just… amazing.  I’m doing the blog project in that class, and I can keep up with everything that everyone posts.  When we do group activities, I can actually check in on each group.

I know I complain a lot about class sizes, but there’s been this little cynical voice in the back of my head saying that it’s probably not the class sizes, I’m just burning out on teaching.  But no!  It really is the class sizes.  This class comes at the end of a very long day, and I have more energy for it than I do for my 10 AM precal that has 48 students in it.

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