I survived my first semester of teaching much wiser than when I started. I haven't gotten back my evaluations yet, but overall I think I at least gave my students access to the tools they will need for the rest of their time in undergrad. Will they actually use those tools? That part is out of my control.
I learned, mostly, that I need to assume that they know less than I think they know. I need to do a little bit more hand-holding. And I need to change up my readings a little more. I don't think I would do the same seminar again, even though I have most of the classes already planned out. But I do think I would try to put in a bit more variety of readings: poetry and feature news stories were left out. I didn't make them do their own research in terms of the reading as I should have. I should also include a few more writing assignments next time, instead of relying on discussion board responses and their four big papers.
So I learned from the experience, which was the point of teaching in the first place, so I call it a success. I'm taking a break from it this semester, mostly because my course isn't taught at in the spring, though I have been playing phone tag with someone from another school for an interview. With my time freed up I've been doing some temping, some freelancing, and some novel writing. Thankfully, my finances have held up thus far. The goal for the rest of 2011 is not to take a full-time desk job, to get as much differentiated experience as possible, and to finish the first draft of the novel.
To my fellow writing teachers: what was the most valuable experience you took away from your first semester?
To my fellow writers: what are your writing goals for 2011?