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Becoming Better: How Faculty Prep for a New Semester

Three women sitting together at a table in the PCC Commons.

Each year, at the end of the summer during Pre-term and over Interterm, Pensacola Christian College faculty take time to update their material and gear up to teach their semester of classes. “The difference is like waking out of an afternoon nap versus waking out of hibernation,” said natural sciences faculty Dr. Sean Vinaja

PCC Faculty Dr. Sean Vinaja in a lab holding a clipboard.

“During Interterm, my mindset is ‘Re-stoke the fire and get it roaring again,’ because, even though I have been on Christmas vacation for two weeks, I haven’t really stopped thinking about my students and what or how I need to teach them,” Dr. Vinaja continued. “At the end of the summer, when getting ready for the fall semester, my mindset is more like, ‘Where are my matches?’”

Once class schedules are finalized, faculty members begin plugging in assignments, due dates, and course changes or updates that improve student learning experiences.

“This past fall, I changed the anthologies for both British Literature (EN 251) and American Literature (EN 252),” said English faculty Lauren McIntyre. “This change required a bit of an overhaul, but it allows me to improve the spectrum of the reading in each of the courses. For smaller changes, I often carefully note how students respond to the timing of projects in a class and look for ways to ease the load without diminishing the quality of the work I expect or the rigor of the course.”

PCC Faculty Tim Golden sitting at a computer and smiling.

“In the art program, we are always trying to update our material to what would lead to the best development of our students’ skills,” said visual arts faculty Tim Golden. “I will usually place most of my preparation into whatever class I’ve taught for the least amount of time. For instance, last year I was teaching Conceptual Communication II (AR 534) for the first time, so I put the majority of my time into preparing for it.”

“Realizing what material is most difficult and most interesting to the students has led me to spend a little more time on those areas to better prepare them for any future classes,” said business faculty Garett Ordway, who teaches Statistics (MA 326) and Business Statistics (BA 322). “As a sports fan, there are many opportunities to point out the use of statistics during the spring semester including the Super Bowl, the start of the MLB season, [and] the NCAA March Madness tournament.”

Ahead of the spring semester, many faculty are excited to see how their students will grow, develop their skills, and go on to graduate during Commencement in May.

PCC Faculty Dr. Wolf sitting with a Bible and talking to another man wearing a suit.

“I look forward to the end, not just in the spring but each semester,” said education faculty Dr. Linda Williams. “I love to see how far they have come and see the spiritual and academic growth each has made during the semester. The spring is extra special because of graduation. There is nothing more gratifying than to see former students walk across that stage. I’m proud of their accomplishments and praying for their future.”

“I look forward to seeing if the new ideas that I have initiated in my courses will help my students be that much more successful!” said Mrs. McIntyre. “It is amazing to me how each semester brings with it a new set of moments and memories that allows me to build on existing relationships with students or to develop new ones.”

“I enjoy seeing a sense of accomplishment beginning to build in the attitudes of the students,” said Dr. Jody Wolf, Bible faculty. “Regardless of classification, [in May] they are finishing an academic year and every student can look back and see how the Lord brought them through to finish. For me, I find that students often express their growth and encouragement in the Lord as they are able to look back over the closing school year.”

Dr. Sean Vinaja sitting at a desk and looking at a laptop.

While more improvements and updates to courses and class schedules may be inevitable in years to come, PCC faculty take each moment in stride. “Good teachers never stop learning and never stop refining their process,” said Dr. Vinaja. “Sometimes, that means teachers take additional courses, research academic articles, or reread the course textbook. These things are difficult to do during the semester, but we praise the Lord for an Administration that provides ample time during Interterm (and Pre-term and Post-term!) for becoming better teachers.”