Sunday, August 26, 2012

School has started

Boy damn, last week felt like it was about a month long. (And the week before that was a mountain of meetings. Many of which were kind of useless. We were made to sit through a forty five minute long talk on how to write a syllabus. EVERYTHING the "experts" suggested were things I already do, and some of the things they pointed out, I was like, "You'd have to be a real idiot to leave that off your syllabus, because it would open the door for students to lawyerball stuff")

But hopefully things will have settled down by next week.

I seem to have a critical mass of either non-trad students or international students this fall. And while either group can have their share of problem people, I generally tend to find that the non-trads tend to have their heads screwed on straighter (because they're older and most have been in the workforce, they tend to get that "I'm a special snowflake, unique and deserving of all the rules being bent just for meeee" attitude beaten out of them before they reach me). And the international students often come from more rigorous and less-self-esteem-enhancing schools than our local students. So maybe I'll have a calmer semester than I did this past spring.

Oh, I did learn something in the endless hours of meetings: if a student with a Disabilities Concern has unacceptable behavior in your class, you can call the Student Support office and ask them to have a meeting to put together a behavioral contract. (Or at least your request will be entertained. I never ever got that word earlier, and I put up with things at times that maybe I didn't have to. Like the guy who didn't trust his note-taker to take good notes, so he would stand up and photograph the chalkboard every time I wrote something. It was completely unsettling and more than once I scuttled fast to the side so I wouldn't be in the photo...because God only knows what he might do with them after the semester.). I don't know how far they'll accommodate the prof (this guy also used to mutter stuff under his breath in class, which was also unsettling, but maybe he had no control over that), but at least the fact that they're willing to listen to us...

I also have to say for ONCE I am not teaching an overload. We finally caved and hired adjuncts (a couple of our own Master's-level graduates) to take over some of the heavy lifting of the basic-classes labs. It's surprising how freeing it is to have one more afternoon open a week. And I guess I didn't realize how beaten down we all were by regularly carrying 14 or 15 hours, instead of the 12 that is supposed to be the maximum (And we get one contact hour for every 2-3 hours in 14 contact hours can mean 20 hours of instruction time, not counting grading, prep, lab clean-up, etc., depending on what you teach.) And yes, we (mostly) do all our own grading. (I wouldn't have it otherwise; most of  my lab reports include a short essay for the "discussion" and my exams tend to include essay sections, and I feel like I need to read and grade those, because I know what I expect).

And I think most people who teach college will tell you that grading is actually the toughest part.

I'm still trying to figure out how to schedule the "outside" stuff. Tuesdays I teach an early morning class and an afternoon class, so I plan to go home for lunch that day, but I think I'll bring my lunch on other days and plan to do research work (I have so much data stacked up that I need to enter into my databases, it's not funny) and I also want to do some background reading for a project to be begun this spring. I hope I can keep up my motivation for that, not having a couple of intro bio labs to deal with should help. 

1 comment:

Sheila O'Malley said...

Good luck with the school year, Ricki. I totally get why you would be alarmed by the dude popping up to take pics of the blackboard!!