A Seminar off-piste

By which I mean, I wrote a lesson plan, but the seminar didn’t exactly go according to plan. This is because – as I’ve found before – you never quite know what will happen when you’re a guest speaker in someone else’s series.  I knew the discussion documents had been circulated, but I hadn’t personally been in touch with the students urging them to (a) read them and (b) bring them to the seminar.

Some had, and some did.  At least as many either hadn’t and didn’t, or glanced at them then didn’t.  So, my plan to divide students into pairs to critique the documents was naive, or at least ill-considered.  I did quiz those who had obliged, and got quite a bit of interaction that way, so all was not lost.

There was another surprise.  I merrily tackled the topic I’d been assigned, only later (because they were polite) to be posed with the question, “Why are we only being told this now? We didn’t know it had to be done this way.”  I couldn’t answer that one!  However, there was quite a bit of dialogue between the students and myself, and their course leader, so I think some useful points were thrown up. The time was definitely not wasted.

The technology behaved itself, and I got across some useful basics about our online resources.  Next year there might be two seminars instead of one – the first, a very brief basic intro to the resources, and the second looking at the issues that I looked at today.

Documentation Project seminar for Masters Students Jan 2016

And the moral of the tale? To be more specific about what I need students to have done beforehand/to bring with them.  Or take a batch of copies with me to the seminar.

 

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Reflecting upon Those Lessons

After the Christmas break, I thought I’d better start uploading some of the documentation for the two lessons I gave four weeks ago! Some hours later, I’ve added most of it to my 2015-16 Portfolio – I just have to do some reflection myself, now.  Transcribing student contributions and feedback forms took longer than I’d bargained for, but it was interesting to go through them with a bit of distance to add perspective.  These are some of my first impressions – I’ll try to expand upon them for my Portfolio submission.

Positives and Negatives

  • Some people disliked passing round books, but most loved this.  In all probability, the majority of students had never had such an array of early collections in their hands in the space of an hour.  I made my own specialism “cool” to one student, and it doesn’t get much better than that!
  • There was also general appreciation of the background context that I provided, and of my stories about the compilers.  One student even asked for more about classical composers’ involvement with traditional song settings.  (I had talked about Beethoven’s input into the Scots Musical Museum.)
  • The cultural context and chance to talk about this seems to have been pretty generally appreciated.
  • A few people thought there wasn’t enough discussion, but others enjoyed the discussion elements, so that seemed to have been a matter of personal taste.
  • Similarly, there were a few comments about ‘too much talking, not enough musical examples’ (I couldn’t get the internet to work on the smart-board, which was annoying but beyond my control) – but there were also positive comments about the musical examples that I did give.
  • Several people did comment about the lack of online examples – a pity.  However, I might well have other opportunities to share this element of the library provision, so all is not lost.
  • Some people wanted a wider variety of instruments to be represented – had I been able to show the hms.scot website, there would have been more fiddle music than they could have got their heads around.
  • Friday mornings at 9 am aren’t popular, it seems! (No reflection on my teaching there, anyway.)
  • One student wanted more teaching about modern collections – but that wasn’t in my remit, as Lori planned to give another seminar on this herself.