February 4, 2015

What I’m up to (since it obviously isn’t this!)

Times they are a changing…or maybe it’s just that I’m changing (and that’s always a good thing, I hope!). This blog has served a variety of purposes over the years, and I have enjoyed seasons of intensive writing and engagement here as well as times when the posts were a bit thin. However, nothing compares to the seemingly complete abandonment of the blog that I have demonstrated over at least the last 6 months, if not more.

A major contributing factor to my absence has been a series of significant health issues that have shifted my focus quite dramatically. I won’t go into all the specifics, because this isn’t a strictly personal blog. What I will say is that I learned a lot about teaching through a variety of life issues, and I only wish I had had the energy at the time to share what I was learning along the way.

In addition to this, however, has been a growing move towards more intimate writing, and more often than not this was happening in long hand, not on a computer. I had a personal blog until last year, for instance, and then just felt like I didn’t want to share my thoughts so publicly anymore, at least not in that venue. I kept up here a bit longer, but then the same inclination decided to creep in again. I just don’t really feel like blogging anymore, at least not for now.

I’ve also been pursuing some other avenues of creativity, so perhaps that too has shifted my focus–drawing, music, and journaling have consumed much of my interest, and so when I do have a spare moment, it’s rare that I’m thinking of what else I can say here.

All that to say that while this has been fun, I think I might be reaching the end of the road here, at least for now. I am going to keep the blog open for a while, in case anyone feels like wandering through the archives. But don’t be surprised if one day you turn here and find me gone.

The internet is a strange and sometimes wonderful place, but it just doesn’t interest me as much these days. Nothing personal; I just have other interests to pursue at the moment, and only so many hours in a day.

I wish you all well on your teaching journey, and thank you to those that read or shared comments–it was truly a valuable experience!

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.

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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!

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