Here is a list of practical things that you can do to prepare for your first independent course. Some of these items may not be applicable to your course, and you may think of many other things that you need to do that are not included here. This document is just designed to get you started!
Waterloo Campus Courses
___ Consider meeting or corresponding with someone who has taught the course before.
You may find it helpful to talk to someone who has taught the course before. Talking to someone else may also give you some ideas for how you can remain true to the course description while also personalizing it to play to your own research strengths.
___ Write your syllabus.
Take a look at what has come before, but know that your course does not have to be identical to offerings from previous years. Do make sure to include required content, like your accessibility statement and your note about academic integrity.
___ Contact the Department’s Teaching Mentor for graduate instructors.
Schedule a meeting with the Department’s Teaching Mentor, and bring your syllabus (even if it’s still a draft). This person will help you think about your reading list, your course objectives, and how your assignments reflect your content. This person will also be able to help you anticipate questions that students may have about your syllabus. Currently,Dr. Frankie Condon holds this position.
___ Place your book order with the UW Bookstore.
The suggested deadlines are listed on the UW Bookstore website. The bookstore will accept orders after the deadline.
___ Place a copy of your textbook or course texts on reserve through the library.
The current contact for course reserves is Leah Haisoch.
___ Contact the textbook publisher to ask for desk copies.
Publishers will be happy that you’re using their books! Contact the Course Materials Specialist at the UW Bookstore to see if they know the rep. for the publisher you’re using. The current Course Materials Specialist is Iain Dmitrienjo. Once you have the rep’s contact info, send them an email with your course code and request a desk copy.
___ Contact the Media Centre in the Math and Computing Building to request a podium key for your classroom.
If you want to use PowerPoint, you will need a podium key to access the classroom computer and projector remote.
___ Visit your classroom in advance of the first day.
It’s nice to get a sense of the space you’ll be in for the rest of the semester. It’s also helpful to test out the projector or any other technology you will be using; this will save time on the first day. Most of the projectors have the Help Desk info listed on them, so if you have trouble setting things up you can give them a call.
___ Activate your course in LEARN.
If you are teaching in the classroom, but you would still like to use LEARN, contact LEARN Help to activate your course or follow the instructions online to do so yourself.
___Consider taking a workshop through CTE.
CTE offers a variety of workshops for teaching assistants and independent instructors.
___ Consider creating a teaching portfolio.
This is a document that you may need to create later in your career. Consider writing a draft of your teaching philosophy that you can use as a guide when preparing your lesson plans.
___ Consider inviting a representative from the Writing Centre to your class.
The Writing Centre now offers classroom visits. You can request a short visit, or a longer workshop session.
Centre for Extended Learning Courses
___ Request access to the master version of your course.
CEL courses already come equipped with lecture videos, assignment instructions, and other materials. Request student access to the master version of the course so that you can review the content in advance of the course.
___ Confirm the textbook order with the bookstore.
The CEL will place the order with the UW Bookstore for those students who are on campus but you may want to confirm the order for your own peace of mind.
___ Contact the textbook publisher to ask for desk copies.
Publishers will be happy that you’re using their books! Contact the Course Materials Specialist at the UW Bookstore to see if they know the rep. for the publisher you’re using. Once you have the rep’s contact info, send them an email with your course code and request a complimentary desk copy.
___ Consider meeting or corresponding with someone who has taught your online course before.
It may be difficult to figure out how much you can or should change with an online course that is already established.Getting in touch with someone who has taught the course before will give you a sense of how you can personalize the course while teaching the content that is already in place for you.
___ Communicate any changes to the Master version of the course to the CEL.
You should receive an email from the CEL staff member who will be putting together your course. This person will give you a deadline for suggesting changes. (It is still possible to request minor changes after this date, and you can make changes yourself too.)
__Consider signing up for a CTE LEARN Workshop.
If you’re unfamiliar with LEARN, consider taking a workshop to familiarize yourself with the interface.
___ Contact the CEL Liaison with the English Department.
Consider introducing yourself to the CEL Liaison and letting them know if you’re new to teaching online. Questions will come up throughout the semester, and this person will be able to help you. Currently, this person is Dr. Dorothy Hadfield.
___ Create a teaching portfolio.
This is a document that you may need to create later in your career. Consider writing a draft of your teaching philosophy.
___ Request copies of exams from previous years.
While most of the material for online courses is already in place, you will need to create an exam for your section. The CEL arranges for proctors, so you will not need to attend the exam. (However, you can choose to attend the exam if you would like to be there.)