September 1, 2014

Back to school…again

I can’t even keep track of how many “back to school” seasons I’ve participated in at this point. Well, I could if I really sat down and did the math, but it’s a bit depressing, so I avoid it. I thought about posting here sooner with all my sage advice to help you prepare, but honestly there’s already so much of that sort of thing on the web that I didn’t see the point. Instead, I thought I’d just sum it up by sharing a few of my favorite “go to” articles from this year for rekindling inspiration at the start of a new school year.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed: “Back to School Supplies”

Mind/Shift: “Four Skills to Teach Students in the First Five Days of School”

Faculty Focus: “Reality Check: Helping to Manage Student Expectations”

University of Venus: “Fall Excitement”

Like me, many of you may have already started the school year (we are actually in week 3 of the term, if you can believe it!). Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of my own strategies and experiences for embarking on the new year, but I’d love to hear from you as well. What did you try to do differently this year? What missteps did you make, and how are you trying to fix them? What are your goals for this coming year? I’ll be sure to add my own as well in subsequent posts!

June 2, 2014

Hello…and goodbye (for a time)

You may have noticed that I’ve been absent for a while. (Ok, I’m sure no one noticed except me!) Between the continuous onslaught that is the end of term/end of year experience in academe (quite dreadful, I promise) and the seductive enticements of “summer break” (which blessedly starts in May for me), I have not had much inclination to come back to my dear old blog. In fact, the only reason I’m here is to offer up a formal notice of my absence for the next few months.

As with most years, I crossed the end of the academic year finish line limping, but still thankfully in one piece. Unbelievably, I managed to stay fairly organized and on top of my grading this term, and actually stayed fairly sane through the whole grading process, even finishing up a bit earlier than usual. Not to say that I didn’t have a few that lagged behind; in fact I just turned in change of grade forms for a few Incomplete grades today (students will be students, don’t ya know). Still, all in all it wasn’t that terrible. I’m alive, aren’t I?

This summer, I’ll still be teaching (my children, mostly). I’ll still be writing (drafts, proposals, in my journal–which I’ve grown back in love with–it’s so PRIVATE!). I’ll still be learning (always!). But I probably won’t be doing much or any of it here. So, for now, I’ll bid you adieu, and wish you all a very wonderful, recuperative, refreshing summer break (if you get one). Hopefully I’ll see you around this fall, when I feel like talking about all that teaching, and writing, and learning again.

summer-banner

 

April 29, 2014

Last day dilemmas (Or, how do I get out of here?)

I’ll admit it. I’m terrible at goodbyes. It might be partly due to the fact that I’m a military brat who moved about every 2 years (sometimes more often) growing up. Instead of saying goodbye, I just left. Or said, we’ll keep in touch! And desperately tried to do so, which usually resulted in about 1 or 2 letter exchanges, before both parties gave up.

Or maybe it’s due to my general social ineptness; I blame it on being an introvert. I’m not much good at hellos, either. Or small talk. Or any other social niceties. (Makes you really wish you were my friend, right?)

Anyway, it occurred to me today, as I completed my last class of the academic year (yay!), that I really didn’t say goodbye, and that my last class session was probably a missed opportunity. I wish I could be more inspirational, like one of my colleagues who wrote this awesome letter to her students (did she read it in class, I wonder? I’ll have to ask her. That would take more guts than I have, I think.) I tried showing an inspirational video in one of my classes this past week on our last day, and ended up feeling a bit awkward. So I nixed it for my other classes. Why do I always feel like a cliche when I do things like that? Makes me feel like I’m trying to channel Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society.

The thing is, I’m such a business-oriented person sometimes, that all I can focus on are the many items that still need to get done, and that I need to use that last class session to make sure the loose-ends are all wrapped up tidily. I suggest to my students that we ought to make it “festive,” but they don’t take me seriously (nor do I), and we all come, laptops at the ready, plunging head-first into work.  All I keep thinking about is that I’ll see them around, I’ll be in touch with them via email over the next week about their papers, and that generally nothing about that last day really feels “last.”

Sigh.

Please inspire me, folks–what do YOU do to wrap up your school year and/or semester? How do you achieve closure with a class? Post suggestions in the comments, if you could; I clearly need some help here!

April 20, 2014

Highs and Lows

As we approach the end of the semester, I thought I’d take a moment to update you on some of the goings-on around here. I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog lately, partly due to a bit of burn out (just being honest!), but mostly due to a semester doubling as a ride on a roller coaster. Between crazy weather patterns, overbooked schedules, new committee appointments, conferences & writing commitments, and of course, family life, this has been a semester to remember (or quickly forget!). To keep things brief, I’ll just offer you a few of the highlights in order to shed a bit of light as well as offer up some options for future blog posts.

High: Students rocked their group presentations earlier this term, where they team-taught an entire class session.
Low: I had a number of students who had major medical issues this term, and several who were forced to withdraw. This of course means I’ll take a “hit” on my enrollment rates (the bane of any educator’s existence!), but more importantly it’s been tough watching students struggle with some of this stuff.

High: I recently approved what I hope (fingers crossed!) are final edits on a book chapter that I originally wrote over a year and a half ago, with hopes that it will actually be published this year.
Low: Due to end of semester conferencing and misc. commitments, I missed at least one, possibly two deadlines for proposals on projects that I really wanted to do. sigh. Time: the great enemy of academic writers. Always.

High: I am *almost* caught up with all of my grading, after my laptop crashed and I lost over TWO WEEKS of grading and prep time while I couldn’t access my files.
Low: Didn’t you catch the fact that MY LAPTOP CRASHED?!?
Low #2: That “caught up” feeling really only lasts about one day. As soon as I return to class tomorrow, I’ll have an onslaught of presentations to grade, and then next week students will turn in final papers. Summer, where are you?!?!

High: I am nearly done wrapping up work on a research project I’ve participated in this academic year, and look forward to sharing some of the things I learned during this process here some time in the future.
Low: Somehow, I managed to pick up another committee appointment by accident (someone caught me off guard at an elevator!). How DOES this happen to me?

High: I am about to begin my last full week of the semester. (You really should read that as if I was singing, because I am.)
Low: There is much, much work to be done between now and that blessed final day of the term. Pray for me, people.

Well, that should suffice for now. I could insert a lot more personal info into the highs/lows, but I don’t want to bore you with all the drama that is my life. Looking back over this term, I can honestly say it has been a strange one in many ways. On the other hand, each term seems to bring its own share of surprises and challenges, so why should this one be any different? In any case, I know I will breathe a huge sigh of relief when it is behind me.

If there is anything listed up above that you would like to me to share about in another blog post, or if there is any other topic (related to academics) you’d like to discuss on this blog, please offer your suggestions below! Meanwhile, happy grading to all of you educators out there, and hang in there-the semester is almost over! (I hope–unless you’re on quarters. Or in secondary ed. I’m so sorry.)

 

 

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