As the new semester approaches, students and faculty have different ways of preparing for the fall.  

While students have been preoccupied with thoughts about packing and moving back to campus, faculty have been focused on preparing to be back in the classroom and their teaching content. So much of their work happens behind the scenes. 

“Putting together a really good one-class session with new, solid content and active learning experiences, each one hour of time in a classroom can take up to eight hours of prep from a faculty member,” said Heather Cox, senior instructor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise and director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics. 

Canvas is one of the biggest tools used in the classroom. Faculty spend a lot of time updating the schedule for their classes and setting up Canvas in preparation.  

“It's important that my students see a polished, well-organized Canvas course so they know what to expect during the semester. It can take up to a full day to set all of the assignment deadlines for the semester so that the Canvas calendar functions properly," said Megan Emori, advanced instructor for the Department of Biological Sciences.  

It goes beyond just the previous year’s lesson plans. Faculty use all their resources, including other students and the SPOT evaluations to help create new and exciting content. 

“I have the bare skeleton lectures. I know the content that I'm teaching them. It's just how to make it relevant for now. I talk to my graduate students and some of my undergraduate researchers to see their opinions on which topics they would like to hear covered. Because sometimes it's something other than what I would think about,” said Leigh-Anne Krometis, associate professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering.  

“Believe it or not, we do review the SPOT evaluations from the previous cohort that took the same classes and identify opportunities to make improvements. Constructive feedback in the SPOT evaluations is always really helpful,” said Cox. 

Faculty are also scanning the news, analyzing what is happening in the world to find connections in their specific areas of expertise.  

“One of the things that I really care about is linking what my students are hearing in the general world and what I'm teaching them in the classroom. It's not just theory, I'm teaching them for a reason. I usually kind of play around with what are the big topics in the world right now,” said Krometis. 

Though hours of work consume the end of their summer, the biggest motivation for faculty is their students. In August, they begin to feel the buzz of excitement in the air.  

“I think students would be surprised to hear about how excited we are. I feel like there are a lot of complaints that go around about the traffic or waiting in line. Truthfully, we get really excited by the infectiousness of new ideas. This is why we're here. Even though we might seem like we're bored and like, it's just syllabus week, we're really excited. We are such nerds about it,” said Krometis. 

Faculty feed off students’ energy in the classroom. So, students, thank your teachers and engage in the content they have carefully chosen to teach. 

“Seeing that desire to learn and enhance their knowledge so that they can achieve their future goals. That's the most exciting thing for me,” said Cox. 

Written by Caroline Reed, a senior and a student writer for Communications and Marketing 

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