A New Semester Brings New Teachers
by Gabriella Blake on Friday, February 22nd, 2013
At the end of the first semester, after finally getting used to their classes, students and teachers settle down to look ahead to the rest of the year; however, for two members of the faculty, the beginning of the second semester marks the start of their whole school year. Mr. GwinnLandry of the English Department returns from sabbatical, and Ms. Roberts of the Art Department takes on new classes to replace teachers leaving for sabbatical.
Mr. GwinnLandry is enthusiastic to begin teaching his classes in Philosophy and Literature, Literature and the Human Condition, and Man and the Natural World. Mr. GwinnLandry comments that the great amount of support he received from his colleagues during this transition caused him to “feel like [he] walked into the classroom with good ideas about how to build on the positive momentum generated in each of these sections over the course of the fall term.”
Though Mr. GwinnLandry is not familiar with the students in his classes quite yet, he does not see the need to know much about students’ performances in the first semester for “the spring term is a new term and it should be seen as a new opportunity.”
For many students, switching teachers midyear can be an uncomfortable transition; however, Mr. GwinnLandry hopes to ease the switch as best as possible, noting, “I am sensitive to the concern that a topic’s ‘new-ness’ may feel like a radical departure, so I have tried to make sure that I am up to speed on how material was covered in the fall.”
“However,” he adds, “I also think the [English] department places great trust in the benefits of variety and the notion that students are better off if they have opportunities to approach the work at hand in many different ways. So, I also hope my sections embrace the ‘new-ness’ of the term and we’ll set out for some uncharted waters…” With the support from his students and colleagues, Mr. GwinnLandry hopes the second semester for his courses will be just as rewarding, if not more so, as the first semester.
Ms. Roberts will be taking over Mr. Cheney’s photography courses as he leaves for his own sabbatical. Throughout the past month, Ms. Roberts has gotten to know her students as she “looked at their photographs and found out a little about each person.” She hopes to have a solid understanding of each of her students to better guide her teaching styles through the next part of the year.
Through discussing her classes with Mr. Cheney before the transition, Ms. Roberts notes that the second semester should be a new start for each student because Mr. Cheney talked only generally about each class, not about individual students. Ms. Roberts also notes that the transition for students may be easier in photography than other courses because there is not a set curriculum; photography provides a more individualized art study.
“The students will be working with the same technical tools they have acquired so far, and I hope to give them some new ideas to explore from my personal perspectives as a photographer.” Ms. Roberts contradicts the often unsettling view of a new teacher, sharing that “it is hopefully a positive experience for students to be exposed to a different point of view. They will be continuing to explore their personal vision.”
For students the transition to a new teacher holds both benefits and drawbacks. Francesca Ely-Spence (II), who has both Mr. GwinnLandry and Ms. Roberts for the second semester, shares, “the transition has been pretty seamless in English, the class is even more relaxed than in the first semester. In art the teaching style is very different, we went from a tell-teacher to a show-teacher, and I guess we will see how that affects our photos.”
Kendall Hall (II) notes that, though it is hard getting into a rhythm with a new teacher, “it does have an upside because you get to see how two different teachers teach the same course and you get a lot more out of it.”
The atmosphere in both new classes appear to be welcoming, contradicting the uncomfortable reputation such transitions may hold.
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