Monday, March 07, 2016

Suddenly March

I've been playing the violin for over a month now.  I can play (well, take that with a grain of salt) "Twinkle Twinkle" in three keys, a song called "Boil 'em Cabbage Down" in four keys, three scales (and broken thirds for them).

This weekend, I played a concert for my Mom on facetime.  Thank goodness for Moms, because she was that weird combination of totally patient about how bad I sound and proud.  Thanks, Mom.


I get these sorts of emails from students, appropriately polite, at least:

Dear Professor Bardiac,

I need help on my paper.  Can you read it and tell me what to do, please? 

Thanks, Student

I never know quite how to handle these.  Fortunately, the one this morning hadn't remembered to attach the draft.  But the student had already missed a conference appointment.  I think he'd get a whole lot more help talking in person, but how to convince a student of that?


I chair an interdisciplinary type program's curriculum committee, and a couple of years ago, we denied a colleague's request to do X with a class, but asked the colleague to rethink, and said we'd be happy to have further conversation.  This spring, the colleague suddenly wants to do X, so I asked the colleague when they'd like to be on the agenda, and they chose a date, and said they'd do the paperwork stuffs.  We confirmed the date (which is this week).  I worked on the agenda last week, and emailed the colleague asking them to send me the paperwork so that I could include it on the agenda.  And finally, yesterday, I got an email promising the paperwork today.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, when I was working on the agenda, I found a couple of hours to work on doing X for a different class (something that's not mine, but taught by an adjunct, and we don't ask adjuncts to do this paper work, since they're not paid for it, so I said I would, and finally did).  The paperwork for X is a stupid irritation, but you can pick up the language from the forms used for other courses, which makes it slightly easier.  After figuring out how to sort of do it (it's on the agenda for the committee this week, and one of the committee members is super duper smart about these things, and will help me get it into shape).

It's the sort of thing that's irritating to do, and easy to put off, but once you start, only actually does take a couple of hours.  (Like, say, taxes for many people, and unlike, say, a huge stack of grading.)


I went to a concert with a pre-talk this weekend.  Both were really good.  The pre-talk was perfectly aimed at helping non-music folks gain a greater understanding and appreciation of what we'd be hearing, and really well done.  The speaker is a friend, so we (and another friend) sat near each other at the concert .  At the intermission, a retired faculty member from music came over and was critical about the talk because the speaker hadn't mentioned that one of the pieces (not the one she focused most of the talk on) was partly arranged by someone else.  Seriously.  It was so effing rude.  First, it was BS criticism, and second, if he wanted to criticize something for real, if there were really a problem, he should take the speaker aside and talk to them privately.

But the concert!  Oh, our women's choir sang on one of the pieces (a concerto with many sections) and they were beautiful, and even more beautiful were two soloists, a soprano and mezzo-soprano, both students, who just blew everyone away.

The concert made me want to go home and practice.  (Instead, I went to bed.)


I think everyone on campus has a cruddy cold, lots of coughing and hacking.  Me, too.

1 comment:

  1. I learned to deal with those student emails (which I get with some regularity, too) from a colleague who asks that students list 2-3 things they think are going well and 2-3 on which they need help, and/or ask 3-6 specific questions in the margins via the comment feature. I now ask for that before conferences, and warn students at the ends of conferences that I'm happy to answer followup questions, but they have to be specific; I just don't have time or energy or brain space to deal with "how does it look now" (which probably really means "what grade will I get if I stop now?," but I don't deal with that directly), and such emails tend to get stuck in the inbox and drift gradually downward.

    So far, this seems to go over pretty well with my students (who are generally hard-working, overwhelmed, and not particular entitled/privileged, and respond pretty well to statements along the lines "we're all pretty overwhelmed, here's how we can help each other"). YMMV