Saturday, September 20, 2014

Week 5: Into the Grind

My office is starting to look like someone actually works there, versus being a vacant space where someone's been stashed for a semester.  Books are making their way a grocery bag at a time, and my gnomes are traveling to display allegiance to proper sports teams in a heathen land. (No, we are not talking about the Reds 2014 season.  We are not.)

In case you're wondering, this picture was taken during my Friday office hours.  Del Mar doesn't really hold classes on Friday, and most of campus shuts down at noon on Friday anyway, so assuming anyone comes in on Friday at all, it's pretty casual--hence the t-shirt.  It's a good time to come in and be assured that you're going to be able to work in an uninterrupted block.

But we're into the real heart of the semester now, and I'm seeing things settle into the grind.  Students are starting to come in tired, and I'm hearing moans about exams starting.  The marathon part of the semester has started, and everyone is plodding along.  In the meantime, I keep making notes about what's working and what's not, and most of it is once again related to my syllabus.  I read this article from Slate about syllabus bloat last week, and over the last week, it's become more and more evident that not only did very few of my students read it, but very few of them listened the first day of class when I went over it (if they were there the first day.  I had several transfer in afterward).

So I've been trying to figure out, what do I actually need?  Should I put all of the required policies online and simply hand out a sheet of paper with the most important things in class, so if they want to know more, they have to go online and read the full syllabus?  I hate the idea of having to give a syllabus quiz, if only because of the fact that I shouldn't have to give one.

I also made my first foray into institutional service this week with the first meeting of the department development committee.  It wasn't a big meeting, mostly choosing a chair, going over the charge of the committee, and figuring out what we're going to do first.  There are a lot of things to discuss, a lot of things to figure out, but it's going to be productive, I think.

Finally, to close this relatively short entry, I have to say, this is an incredibly supportive department.  I can't tell you how amazing everyone has been and how much everyone has had my back when I've had an issue, or how patient people have been when I've had a question or needed someone to explain something.  They've been so helpful, and I'm so incredibly grateful.

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