I just returned from a trip to Arizona to visit family, and my thoughts are now turning to the new year and my winter quarter classes. I’m teaching a new class starting in January, an accelerated version of the Python courses designed for development students who aren’t programming novices but aren’t ready for the Java data structures classes. I pushed for this class to be created to help maintain the (hopefully) friendly atmosphere in the Python classes for novices. Mixing novices and more experienced programmers tends to make everyone unhappy: the more experienced programmers are bored and try to push the pace; the novices feel stressed and insecure; the instructor goes crazy trying to balance the two audiences.
I’m excited to teach the class, although it’s going to be a challenge. The pace I put into the course proposal is somewhat blistering, and I’m not sure that everyone will keep up without becoming too stressed. I also have to try to do some magic like talking about web crawlers without having the students explicitly write classes beforehand, which may or may not work. I think that the challenge has bled into my unconscious because I’m starting to have new-class nightmares. These always involve at least one of two features:
- Visions of me showing up to class without my notes/examples prepared, resulting in my trying to tweak notes on the fly or make something up on the spot
- Students who misbehave, mostly by completely ignoring what I have to say, and the resulting classroom chaos
My most recent nightmares include both aspects for added fun. Interestingly in the last dream the notes I had to modify had nothing to do with Python programming. I hope that the dreams calm down once I get started with classes on January 7th.