Saturday, August 30, 2008

Notes from the First Week; Tabulation Edition

On Teaching
  • Scheduled for new, snazzy office computer (+3)
  • Said computer does not arrive until halfway through the first day of classes (-2)
  • When computer arrives and is set up, it doesn't print (-2)
  • Did not finish syllabi until hour before individual classes began (-5)
  • Students in first class notice not in the least (+3)
  • Students in first class, while a bit reticent to speak, have a collective sense of humor and exhibit ability to engage in something they nothing about (+3)
  • Students in second class are a mixed-bag, consisting of various majors with widely-divergent skill sets and expectations (-2)
  • Students in second class also willing to go with me, and have good things to contribute to discussion on first day (+3)
  • Teaching a second time makes me realize that I know what I want to say and pertinent concepts to signal to them (+5)
  • Having filed all handouts and originals from said class, it didn't matter that I couldn't locate the book that I would have needed to photocopy (+5)

On Extracurriculars
  • PR "loses email" with details about flyers for pedagogy series, for the second time in two years (-3)
  • PR pulls it out of their collective asses, providing flyers in time to hand out (+4)
  • Print shop unable to print said flyers (-2)
  • Colleagues back out of first session of series, due to emergency surgery (-2)
  • Different colleague, often the crankiest one ever, agrees to fill in (+3)
  • In turn, cranky colleague twists arm to guilt me into serving as faculty rep for athletic team. Me. (0)
  • thought there was a meeting scheduled on Wednesday, only to discover that there wasn't, and thus was done at 2:30 in afternoon (+7)
  • 2 hour department meeting on first day of classes, in which granny mafia asserts its dominance by a) interrupting and dismissing new colleague 5-8 times b) trying to pressure me into taking on the KRAZY grad student c) whinging on d) ignoring the result of a hard-won battle from last semester because it didn't like the results (-20)
  • consistent air of rebellion and barely-hidden mocking amongst members of department during meeting (+5)
  • bringing itouch to meetings, so that everything is one step removed (+5)
  • saying no to KRAZY grad student (+3)
  • New colleague is already thinking up ways to confuse/annoy granny mafia, including but not limited to the singing of Billy Idol songs (+5)
  • "volunteered" to be on search committee, which will have 300 applications (-3), one of which from an internal candidate (-7), includes a number of sane people (+3), and will involve a trip to San Francisco (+7)
  • delightful happy hour with colleagues, in which everyone played nice (+5)


Okay, I'm not going to bother to add all of that up. Just from a quick scan, it's clear where the major suckfest of my week comes from, but it's also clear that there are any number of things that ameliorate its effect, somewhat. In true procrastinatory form, I put off finishing syllabi and prepping for class because I wasn't feeling it; for the first time in a long time, I had no jolt of excitement about getting back in the classroom. That lasted through my first classes; I was rough around the edges, babbling, etc. But once they had read a bit, things started to change. I'm utterly amused by some of my students already, and the ways in which they are reluctant to engage with some of the materials is an engaging conundrum for me too. So, yay teaching.

There are a number of zeppelins on the horizon: the search committee; the departmental situation; new administrator; tenure file; request for sabbatical; and the ever-present "who am I? What do I want to be when I grow up?" trauma, but there's no use rushing it. Plenty of things to blow up in their own time.

I'd say that as first weeks go, I came out slightly ahead, and I'd like to maintain that lead for as long as I can. Hello, labor day!

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