Thursday, 18 September 2014

After Teaching for a few Weeks

Now that we’ve settled into our first few weeks of school, David and I have more of a defined schedule that I can report on.

My Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays begin at 5:30 and my Tuesdays and Thursdays begin at 6:30. David generally gets up an hour or so after me, as his walk is shorter and his teaching day starts later. I teach on MWF at 8:00, 9:00, 11:00, and 12:00, and David teaches the same days at 9:00, 10:00, 1:00, and 2:00. We both hold office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00-12:00.
So, that’s the backbone of our schedule.

We both actually usually leave our respective offices at 4-ish every day and walk home together. After I’m finished teaching, I usually either meet with students or read (recovery time). On Tuesdays and Thursdays we stay so late because there is so much to get done for classes on Wednesday and Friday. 

One thing that I was reminded of on my second day of teaching (when I went to make copies of something for my classes in the morning before I taught), is that faculty are awful about getting jams in the copy machine and then not taking the time to fix them. It makes me so self-righteous, because I always stop to fix jams that I make (even if it will make me late to class). But, this factor of faculty being cads about cleaning up their messes makes it imperative that I make copies the day before class rather than the morning of class (since I teach at 8). 

My students are very different in some respects than my Delaware students, and one of these reasons has compelled me to make handouts for them (with blank spots for notes). I didn’t have to do this in Delaware because I could just rely on my students to be able to easily figure out what they needed to know from class and what they could avoid taking notes on. My Sam students don’t have great study skills and don’t know how to take the best kind of helpful notes, yet. However, if I make these handouts for my students at Sam, they are much less panicky, they pay better attention, and they actually refer back to the handouts when they ask questions in and out of class and when they work on their papers.

I’m not going to do too much internet-public talk about my students in this blog, as it’s not fair to them and it falls into a legal gray space, but I will say that these are some things that I love about my classes:

The diversity in my classroom.

Their openness to discussing difficult issues like poverty and racism.

Their willingness to ask questions in class; even if their questions might be perceived negatively by their peers.

The huge spectrum of unique ideas that they produce for papers (it feels less “one note” than it did in Delaware).

The fact that they all suck up positive critiques like dry sponges (they are so beaten down and expect me to hate everything they write).

The fact that they usually handle my negative critiques of their writing well, and they respond by making something beautiful out of their papers.

They can’t resist using some title before my name (“Ms.” “Mrs.” “Professor” “Miss”). My favorite is “Professor Katie.” My second favorite is the unintentional misspelling of my name: “Mrs. Write.”

Keeping up with grading some things has been a challenge; especially on weeks like this one when I have conferences with students every day. Overall, though, grading has not been too bad. Their first “official” paper is due tomorrow, so we’ll see if I can give a one-week turnaround. 

And now, the family reports:

JVJ: I haven’t seen JVJ this happy since my last winter break before we moved out of Texas. Seriously. He plays the “toss the chewed up piece of plastic that I found somewhere” game with me, in which (like a dog), he brings me this plastic and I throw it and then he dashes after it and pounces on it and then brings it back again. JVJ has decided to stop blaming David for our move, too. JVJ is not meeting his goal of becoming very fat, as I am keeping his snacking limited to specific times.

David: Every few days David returns from the library with another sack of books. As all of you know, he likes to read widely and often, so his library collections are diverse. He is currently balancing some projects with his teaching and finding the balancing to be a tricky thing (but not impossible). Right now in his Critical Thinking class David is getting to teach more philosophy (the first part was more about logical processes) and things are going better (it’s more his groove). 

We both don’t really have other people in town to do fun things with, but I feel like I’m either so busy most of the time or so exhausted from teaching that I don’t have very much time to devote to doing activities with other people. I personally don’t see this is a problem right now, but maybe later we’ll attempt to spend time with other people (and both of us are introverts, so alone time right now is precious).

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