As the end of the semester looms nearer, some reminders:
--Many of our students are starting to "hit the wall" around this time in the semester. (If only they knew that so are their faculty.) If you have major projects due in the next few weeks, consider checking in systematically with your students to gauge their progress. How many of them have completed the literature review for their research papers? Have their groups been meeting regularly to prep for their upcoming class presentations? The ideal situation is if you have built these checkpoints into your syllabus; even if you haven't, consider whether you can informally check in now.
--Make sure your grade book is current. I've sometimes been guilty of waiting until the last minute to compile my end-of-semester grades. Not recommended, unless you like stress. Consider whether your grades are all up to date, and if not, there's no time like the present.
--Prepare for those SRTEs. Although end-of-semester student evaluations are still a few weeks away, David Perlmutter offers some good tips about intepreting them -- and preparing students to take them -- in the Chronicle of Higher Education. One interesting suggestion: "In the case of course objectives, on the first day of class, lay them out carefully, noting that they are also spelled out in the syllabus. In a later class, perhaps the one previous to the session in which you will hand out the evaluations, reiterate your course objectives and explain how they have been achieved. That's not pandering to students; that's transparent teaching."
--Remember that extra hour we all get this Sunday, when we turn the clocks back one hour. You might use it to sleep or to catch up on academic work. Don't worry though -- we'll have to pay for this next year when we "spring forward."