Sunday, August 24, 2008

More on Back to School

For some reason, I'm less stressed than starting other school years. I think I have more confidence and a renewed outlook to enjoy the students. The main thing I seem to have more in the front of my brain is that there is only so much I can do as the instructor and the rest is up to the students. The old you can lead a horse to water but can't make them drink argument.

The mentoring meetings were interesting. I'm starting my 15th year at my institution and it was insightful to see what new faculty are being told about what to expect. The main thing I came away with is how department-specific all-around success can be. My new colleague possesses numerous types of experiences prior to his arrival and I have no doubt he will do well. That will be quite a change from the previous occupants of his position.

Our opening meeting was the most fun as always - getting to see people you may only see once a year. For my part, however, I noticed that I am no longer one of the young pups and have quite a long tenure here at 15 years. Our department meeting went quite quickly thanks to our chair and then we had lunch together.

Enrollment day was quite typical - no one came in but I did answer an email at 6:30 am (at home) and a phone call. My assumption is that online enrollment has decreased the numbers showing up in person for help.

The graduate class for grant teachers has their first assignment due this week so that they can finish by Thanksgiving. The short interval between Thanksgiving and Christmas is so hectic for teachers that it works out best for everyone that way - especially since they have already been in school for a couple of weeks.

I"m going to take a more relaxed approach to the teaching methods course and go through some more modeling experiences for them. The basic assignments will be the same but we will do some more collaboration and peer review - especially before turning in assignments. What I have planned will lead to ensuring they are even better prepared and my not killing myself with the such intense grading duties normally associated with this course. We'll see how it works.

We're also utilizing the newly available features in our version of ANGEL - the blogging and wiki functions. It will make it much easier for me to keep track of individual blog entries since they will be collected in one place. I also have a plan to stay on top of grading a bit better and not get buried too quickly - esp. if I'm spending more time grading an assignment than a student does in preparing it (as in the past).

I hope I am not getting old and cranky but just more realistic about the parameters within which I work. I need to focus more energy on the tasks that I can bet control the outcome - ie research and publishing.

I have a book project trip and a state conference in September and then in October I'm off to New Orleans and Miami for conferences/H-Net meetings and then Houston for a conference in November. I'll probably also have a meeting in November or early December. That will be plenty with having to be in New York for over a week in early January.

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