Thursday, September 02, 2010

First Day Impressions

I taught my first class of the semester today. I start most courses by going over the syllabus with the class, asking each student to read a small bit, and then making comments. If you listen, you can begin to get a sense of how fluidly students read. It's not ideal or completely accurate, because someone who's a good reader may stumble out of nerves, of course, but it's the beginning of an idea.

I had several students stumble over words like "attendance." That's not encouraging.

On the other hand, we had a good discussion of the "what is an essay?" issue, and talked about breaking the rules folks were taught in high school. (You know the ones I mean, the only five paragraph essays, no starting sentences with "and," no using "I" in an essay, and so forth.

That is encouraging.

Meanwhile, we're having the usual problems that happen when a big organization shifts from one computer system or big program to another. It's painful and frustrating.

We have had this system where we could look up a student and get a print out of how they are doing in completing all their degree requirements. It's a great tool to use in advising.

There's a way to do it on the new system, but I couldn't figure it out. So I called the computer help desk, and hung up after being on hold for 5 minutes (because I needed to go to a meeting). Then after the meeting, I asked the deanling, and the deanling spent fifteen minutes trying to figure it out before s/he finally did. Seriously, that's a good half an hour of professorial time just between she and I after the meeting, to figure out something that's semi-hidden and really shouldn't be, not to mention the time I spent before. It's so frustrating.

Tomorrow's another day. I have one class to teach, and then an appointment to give blood, and then a couple of meetings.

For now, we're having a rain storm that's coming down so hard against the house and windows that I thought it might be hailing.


  1. Good luck with the semester! I started on the 24th, and after eight months off for maternity leave, I'm a shade rusty. The old joy for the classroom came right back. The old dread of grading did, too. But I just got in a set of papers that I think will be interesting, so I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

  2. I start back on Wednesday. I'm still learning the ins and outs of our new course management software. (Eep!) I don't want to try and calculate the person-hours that will go into getting that up and running for all the university courses. So you have my sympathies when it comes to tacklingcomputer system craziness.