- Monday I was in a “Teaching Conference” thing with colleagues from across the institution from 7:30 AM until like 5 PM. All in all, that was a great day, as I like institution-wide events. I presented on a panel with colleagues from Computer Science and Biology, and that was especially cool, and I got to reconnect with my across-campus friends whom I’ve not seen in ages. Still, even though the day ended with delightful wine and cheese, that was a long freaking day.
- Tuesday I was at our department “retreat” (which is a terrible name for a meeting that lasts for FIVE FULL HOURS), and honestly it was one of the best retreats I’ve attended in my 10 years here. A new chair who runs a meeting well? REALLY HELPS. Even when the meeting is five hours long.
- One of the things that happened at the retreat was that I led an activity about curriculum mapping and assessment, and it was a roaring success! I know – putting “curriculum mapping and assessment” together with the words “roaring success” sounds totally crazy, right? But really, it was painless, useful, productive, and puts us on a path toward getting our assessment plan for the major in in time for re-accreditation in 2015. I am a master of getting things done! So now the work that we did at the retreat will go back to the department assessment committee, we synthesize the input of the whole department, and then we will bring a proposal to the department for a vote. Easy peasy!
- The secret to my abilities with really getting work done on assessment includes the following: 1) The activity that I designed was really focused, as are the activities I design for my students; putting the work in up front, yes, is work, but it is so much more practical than endless brainstorming! 2) I’ve devised a way for us to do the assessment of our major focusing on just a handful of courses as assessment points (which is, really, how program-level assessment should work according to the experts), which means that the most anti-assessment people in the department won’t have to think about assessment at all or at least very rarely, so I’ve basically neutralized the haters in advance; 3) I actually know our entire curriculum inside and out, as well as knowing curriculum across the university, which has not been the case with previous people put in charge of assessment. (It seems like a no-brainer to me that assessment and curriculum go hand in hand, but it took me YEARS for those in charge to recognize that my expertise with the curriculum might actually help to get an assessment plan in place. Um, duh.)
- I went home last night and took a nap. Then I had some dinner, and read for a bit. And then I slept for 11 hours. Because apparently the reentry into COLLEAGUES and THE SEMESTER leads to chronic fatigue.
- I woke up this morning, and I immediately went in to the office to finalize my syllabi and to send them to printing services. (Yes, I still hand out hard copies of my syllabus with the course schedule for my courses. I tried just putting them up on our course management software once, and it was not effective. It is true that I put the “course policies” up only electronically for literature and theory courses, so I am not killing quite as many trees, but I think it’s worth it to hand them something on the first day. YMMV.) This took about 5 hours.
- Looking ahead to the new semester: 2 of my 4 preps are pretty much identical to the last time I taught them, so that’s good; my intro the major course includes one new assignment (stolen from CF) which I think is much more effective than the “reading journal” that had been in its place, and I’m teaching a different novel, but I’ve taught it before in another context, so that should be fine; the fourth prep… well, I’ve perhaps made more changes to it than are wise (though I did not stupidly assign myself a ton of texts I’ve never taught before like I did last semester) including changing pretty much every writing assignment in the course and teaching one novel I’ve never taught (though it’s pornographic, so does that really count?) At any rate, I’m excited about the teaching, though a little fearful that I’ve done as much revamping of the fourth course as I’ve done.
- You know why the re-entry into the semester is so hard for me? It’s because I go from being a slacker to being a total and utter workaholic. Also it’s because I go from being a person with very little face-time with other humans to being a person who is CONSTANTLY IN CONTACT WITH LIKE A HUNDRED OTHER HUMANS EVERY SINGLE DAY! I’ll adjust, but I suspect I’ll be sleeping 10+ hours a night for the next week or so until I get used to the routine.
- I still need to make my schedule up in my calendar for reading, grading, service, and research-related activities, but that can happen on Monday. I do have to go to campus for convocation Friday, but other than that, my aim for the next four days is to rest up for the grueling slog that will be my 16-week semester and to NOT think about school. Huzzah!
Random Bullets of the Beginning of the New Academic Year
August 14, 2013 by Dr. Crazy