Monday, February 17, 2020

With Every Assignment Due, Disaster Strikes

I have the first semi-big assignment due in one of my classes today, and disaster struck.  There's one car repair, one ill relative, one aging pet, and several oops, I didn't get it done because...

I don't doubt any of them, either.  I think the thing that's most changed in me over the years about handling disasters or non-disasters is that I'm less cranky (or less overtly cranky) about the need to turn in some things late.

It's not that I'm happy, but if you're 18 and a loved one is ill, or your car breaks down, or you mis-time things and have to work a long shift, I'm more inclined now to be sympathetic.

It's a tad frustrating to try to get a pile graded and then have to add more, but a whole lot less bad than having a loved one ill or something.

Strep and flu seem to be hitting hard locally, too.  And to be honest, if a student is feeling sick, it seems better to me that they stay home and try to take good care of themselves, and not spread whatever.  But, yeah...  I wish they never got sick (and not only for my convenience).

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Pre-Chair

I came in at the usual time today (before 8am so I could get parking nearish my building), mostly because I'm going to start attending chair meetings with the Dean and other chairs. 

Almost as soon as I got here, a colleague came and stood at my door to chat.  We exchanged the usual pleasantries.  And then the colleague started to tell me about this and that, and here's what we need to do to make the world better, and so forth.  So I suggested maybe starting with step A would be something we could do.  And then I got an earful about how they aren't paid to do step A, and besides, they've already been doing step A (sort of), and we'd really need to start with step A prime.  So I said, okay, so A prime.  And I got another earful about how they shouldn't have to do Underwater Basketweaving 101 so they could develop this new idea.  And I said, basically, that I didn't think that was going to happen, but that there might be a way to do their new idea taking a different approach.  And then they sidestepped to another idea.

And I realized I totally didn't really have a grasp on our conversation.  I was treating it as a colleague saying "I want to do X, and I want you to support that when you're chair" when what they really wanted was to just vent.  And that's fine.  We all need to vent sometimes. 

I recalled what a former chair explained to me once, about how there were colleagues who would go into his office to just vent, and they were going to do that about an hour a week.  And he just had to listen and nod and let them vent.  And then there were other colleagues who'd show up once a semester, and they'd want to vent, maybe, or want to test out a real idea, maybe, or whatever.  And sometimes the colleague who usually vents actually wants to get help with an idea.  And figuring out the actual conversations he was having with different colleagues was key to being effective and getting done what could be done.

I don't think my colleague today feels comfortable enough with the current chair to vent at them, but clearly they feel comfortable enough with me to vent at me.  And I'm sure there's someone else who vents at the current chair and won't feel as comfortable venting to me.

So much to learn and keep track of.

I went to the chairs' meeting and felt like I needed a scorecard to keep track.  I think I need to listen really carefully this semester so that I have a better sense of what's important and how to best serve my department, the college, and the university.

So very much to learn!

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

A New Semester, New Things to Learn

So much to learn, not just for me, but for my students, too.

It's the morning of the second day of classes, and I've already had three students anxious about stuff.  I solved two of the problems, I think.

I had a student yesterday tell me they were going on vacation during X week of classes and what could they do to make up the work.  I said they could do it ahead.  BUT seriously, who schedules vacation during the semester for college aged students?  (And I realize "vacation" may actually mean that it's the only time my parent can get off of work or something.  Still, it seems weird.)

Yesterday, I taught five hours.  My normal Monday/Wednesday schedule will be four and a half hours, but I filled in for a colleague for half an hour yesterday.  I don't know how K-12 teachers do it.

My Mom's memory seems to be more and more a problem.  I'm grateful to the other family members who are helping and geographically close.  But there are times when it takes a lot of mental energy just to call and try to talk to her.

Here's to wishing everyone a good semester!