The Best-Laid Plans Often Go Awry

I take great pride in being able to synchronize the different pieces of a long class, adjust on the fly, and come into the finish line exactly on time. Last year I failed more often than I succeeded when teaching my advanced economics seminar on human capital in Latin America, and this semester was (is) going to be different. My plan was to reduce the amount of material students present and replace my mini-lectures on advanced statistical methods with videos the students watch outside class. And yet my time management in class today was still a train wreck.

There were two major problems–I mean learning opporunities: First, since I knew I was getting a free 15 minutes relative to last year by removing the mini-lecture, I figured I didn’t have to pay attention to the clock at all. Wrong. At what I thought was the half-way point of a two hour class, I had a half hour left for two students to present some fairly technical results and lead a discussion of them. Second, I replaced last year’s 15 minute mini-lecture and a 15 minute student presentation with a 30 minute discussion exercise that actually took 45 minutes. The realistic numbers just didn’t add up.

Next week it’s going to be tougher since there will be three students presenting, but I will also be paying a lot closer attention.