Developing teaching material iteratively

Each week I take three groups through the same material for the week – one class on Wednesday and two classes on Friday. Because of the fluid nature of the course, I find myself preparing my material a day or two before the first class (namely the Wednesday one).

Every group would take on the combined character of the personalities of the students who make up the group. Last year, it felt as though the first group for the week were rowdy and restless, the last group sweet as angels, and the second, well, somewhere in the middle.

Imagine how shocked I was when the groups this year acted exactly like the ones last year? First class, noisy and distracted; last class quiet and attentive; middle, middle. Heck, what are the chances of something like that recurring?

This made me think back on the way the material gets prepared and the way it evolves over the course of the three times it gets delivered. Here is what I discovered:

  • Wednesday evening would be my beta testers
  • Friday morning would get version 1 of the course
  • Friday afternoon would get a slightly more polished version 1.05.

This discovery may very well explain more robustly why the students in the first class aren’t as attentive as the ones in the final one for the week!

Which brings me to the following conclusions.

  1. If you’re a student of mine, you’d want to take the latest possible class in the week.
  2. If you hiring a teacher like me, you’d do well by rotating the groups around so that they all get equal portions of betas, version one’s and version 1.05’s, OR you could try making up your mind and stop changing the freaking syllabus every year.