Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thoughts on a new school year

One of an educator's truisms -- to the point of pretty much being a cliche -- is that the end of summer is bittersweet. For while it is sad to see the summer's slower pace replaced by the whirlwind of activity that defines a semester, it also is good to get back into a routine and reconnect with the life of the academy.

It helps that at St. John Fisher we get an extra week over many Rochester area colleges that start classes tomorrow. Our classes don't begin for another week (Tuesday Sept. 7), but even still the school year in essence begins this week with a bunch of meetings and activities.

One of the characteristics of working in a small program is that I have a long roster of courses that I teach: Introductory Newswriting, Advanced Newswriting, Feature Writing, Copy Editing, Media Law and Senior Seminar. It's great having a variety of material to work with and bring to the students. The downside is that I can't teach all of them every semester. (It would be nice if I could, but that would involve cloning!)

This semester's offerings are the intro course, which I teach every semester, the law course and Senior Seminar. The "sweet" part of the "bittersweet" transition to autumn is that September comes in the form of a fresh start and opportunity to improve on past work.

I've been working on revisions to each of the courses I'll be offering, including adding more multimedia components to the intro journalism course, finding ways to make the law course more vibrant with more discussion and application, and redesigning the dreaded senior seminar research project to help the students grasp what it means to design a project more effectively before getting started on it.

On the administrative side, we'll be finalizing some adjustments to the curriculum that we began talking about last year (to take effect for students entering the program a year from now). We'll also be implementing some ideas for attracting new students and enhancing the experiences of returning ones. We have an updated computer lab with brand new iMacs and a newly renovated, state-of-the-art television studio, which is very exciting indeed for the students and faculty who will be using both of these facilities.

All in all, looking forward to a fantastic year.

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