Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Assessment = Grade?

 I was in one of those meetings with people where we were supposed to talk about assessment stuffs, and the question came up:  Assume you have three possible outcomes for a specific assessment bit, which is being assessed based on a given assignment, say an essay.

exceeds expectations

meets expectations/

doesn't meet expectations.

One of the people in the room said, basically, that meeting expectations meant the assignment was an A.

I tend to think more, meets expectations demonstrates competency, which is a C to start, though a B definitely meets expectations, too, and maybe an A exceeds expectations?

How do you and your colleagues talk about these?

Monday, March 28, 2022

Been a While

We just finished spring break, but it didn't feel like much of a break.  I went to visit my Mom and things remain pretty much as they are.  Sometimes she's confused, sometimes not.  Sometimes she's unhappy, sometimes not.  This could go on for several years, and that's depressing as all get out.

I'm muddling through my chairness, trying to do the right thing, and hoping I'm not hopelessly naive.  We're doing a couple of searches in various ways, one of which is very complicated and political, and I feel like I'm about to walk into a metaphorical minefield.  Which is better than a real minefield, of course.

One of the searches, in multiethnic basketweaving is especially complicated.  Multiethnic basketweaving has a few courses in common with underwater basketweaving, but others not.  So, the current director of that program was in underwater basketweaving for many years, and wants the underwater basketweaving department to do a search for a specialist in multiethnic underwater basketweaving for when they retire.  

But admin wants to do a search in multiethnic basketweaving for an adjunct. 

Here's what the admin folks say:  adjuncts here teach 15 credits a semester, so that would be 5 courses in multiethnic basketweaving.  One or two of those could be our cross-listed courses in multiethnic underwater basketweaving.  The others would include multiethnic dry basketweaving, history of multiethnic basketweaving, and so forth, a wide variety of courses.

These courses would all count for general education, and the thing is, we offer, say, 1000 seats in GE, and students need 1000 seats in GE, so they take what's available, even if they hadn't really wanted to.  That means that there would be 5 GE courses that would pretty much fill.  And if the adjunct is a good teacher, ideally, then more people might decide that multiethnic basketweaving really IS a fascinating area of study and maybe they'd do their major or minor in it.  And it would grow.  And that would give the administration a way to argue for hiring a tenure track person in the area (who would teach 4 courses a semester, instead of 5, all in MEBW.

BUT, if we hire a tenure track person into Underwater Basketweaving, then half their load is intro to UWB, and they'd only be able to offer 2 MEBW courses a semester.  So the bang for the buck is, from the administrator's point of view, far less.

It WOULD be great to have intro UWB taught from a multiethnic perspective, of course.

So, I may be naive, and this may be the administrator's way of killing off MEBW here.

And the current person, who's a multiethnic underwater basketweaving specialist isn't convinced that a person who's, say, a multiethnic dry basketweaving specialist could also do a good job teaching multiethnic underwater basketweaving.  It's a massive field, and that's a big ask, seems like.

But at any rate, I'm pretty sure the admin isn't going to hire an adjunct AND give us a tenure track search next year.  And they've got the ad for the adjunct up, and both the current person and I are on the search committee.  

This should be fun.

Friday, February 04, 2022

Wandering in the Wasteland

Things continue on.  My Mom's really not improving, and my expectations are that she won't.  

My brother is amazing, and continues to be.  My aunts (both retired) who live near her are great.  They've been wonderful all along, but they also make me a bit frustrated at times.

One of them talked to her on the phone, texted our group, and then asked in the group text if I hadn't called that day.  I'd just gotten home from work, sat down for a bit, talked to my brother on the phone (about my Mom)... and the text.  Nope, I hadn't called.  I was at work mostly, and then barely got home from a tiring day.

So I called.  My Mom's sort of closed off sometimes.  She sounded reasonably alert, and said she was happy to hear from me, and when was I coming (I'm not any time soon because flying half way across the country to expose myself (and her, and others in her care center) to covid so that I can visit for a couple hours before flying back to be at work just isn't really workable).  And then she asked about my brother, and would I have him call her.  She wanted  me to do that then, so I said okay, said goodbye, and texted the group about the call.  (From his text a bit later, he called and had a nice chat.)


We're at the end of our first week of classes.  So far, so good.  My intro to lit class students are so far pretty engaged and interested.  I'm enjoying our discussions.  I hope they are, too.


Covid continues to suck.  We all put a ton of energy into trying to work around problems and through problems and so on.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Reporting on Reports

Thanks for the kind words everyone.  Things with my Mom are stable in terms of physical health, but up and down in terms of mental stuff.  Let me say: my brother is truly a rock in the best ways.

I had a meeting yesterday to help me do a report on our assessment reports.  I have two to do, one for college stuff, and one for our programs.  The college one is due first.

The person helping me spent about 45 minutes talking about how to do this massive, complicated excel database form.  And then mentioned that I could use the same form I used last year if I wanted.  It's a pretty simple form.  The difference is that if you use the new excel form, then you only have to work with one document, and once you enter everything, you can basically pick up back up next year to update.  So that would be good.  But it's incredibly complicated, and I suck at doing more than basic database stuff with excel.

I had a meeting earlier this week with admissions.  I thought the meeting was going to be them telling me things.  But instead, I found out once there that I was supposed to tell them all about my department.  So off I went.  I wish I'd been better prepared.

I still need to work on my syllabus.  That's going to happen this afternoon, is the plan.  I hate not having it done yet.  Classes start Monday.  I wonder when my break is supposed to happen?

I seem to spend a fair bit of time in any given week comforting various faculty/instructional people about stuff.  It's important, but it's a lot of time and energy.  I wonder if the time/energy investments for this comfort were the same before covid?

Monday, January 17, 2022

Slogging through Winter

 Mom's in rehab, doing... okay.  She's more confused than she'd been before, but things seem to be improving somewhat.  She doesn't want to be there, but sometimes says no to physical therapy.

And mostly, she's scared about spending the rest of her life in a wheelchair/bedridden in a place in partial covid lockdown where no one can come to see her except her kids who live far from convenient visiting distance.

Meanwhile, I have so many school tasks that need need need to be done, and so little feeling like doing them.

1  Reviews of the contingent folks so that we can order them in case there's not enough teaching for everyone.  This is hard work, and the idea that it might lead to someone not having employment sucks.

2  I have to do an annual review on a scale of 1-4 of everyone I "supervise" in case we get a raise next year.  Typically, we don't.  But every so often the legislature votes university employees a raise.  Usually it's 2% max.  If it's 2% or less, anyone reviewed at a "solid performer" level (2 on the scale) gets the 2% bump.  If it's more than 2%, then there's merit involved.  But I don't remember the last time we got more than 2%.

3  I have a class to plan.  Usually this is a joy, but what with knowing that we may go on line or need to support students who get covid or have to quarantine, it's going to be hard.

4  I'm so far out of shape that I'm upset about it.  It's to the point where I just need to sit on the trainer bike for 15 minutes of pedaling every day, or take a walk, or something something anything to get moving.  This is all the more upsetting because of my Mom's condition.  And because someday I'd like to be able to travel, but deep down I worry that I never really will because covid and climate change...

Sunday, January 09, 2022


Things are better...

There was a lot of sitting around in my Mom's hospital room waiting.  And then more waiting.

On Thursday, they finally were able to transfer her to the rehab/nursing facility we wanted, and they'd started reducing her dosage of the one drug, and she'll have her last dose today (Monday).  (I guess it's a thing where they taper people off rather than going cold turkey?)

At the rehab place, the doctor looked at the discharge information and told my brother that he thought that drug might be causing drowsiness.  (My brother came Thursday evening, and is staying through the weekend to help her get settled.)

I came home on Saturday, and got ready for a full week of work.

My Mom was still really drowsy all day Sunday, so here's hoping that she starts being less drowsy.

Thanks for all the kind thoughts for us.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Much Better

Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

Today was much better.  My Mom fed herself her meals, and ate them well.  (Yesterday she'd eat a few bites but not feed herself, and then fall asleep.)

She got out of bed, talked to my brother on the phone, and ate dinner in a chair.  And then was totally ready to sleep.

The doctor noticed the change, as did the nurses.  And me.

The one drug they think it might be was reduced today, and dosed tonight.  So we'll see how she is tomorrow.

Friday, December 31, 2021

And Waiting Some More

 More waiting.  And worrying.

I came Christmas day, met up with my brother, and came to see my Mom.  She was grumpy in that way and okish.

The next morning, my brother left early, and I came to the hospital with my Mom.  And sat.  She was pretty good during the day.  Not super chatty or anything, but ok.  That was Sunday.  Monday was a little improved.  Tuesday was a little improved.  The Physical Therapy person walked her to and from her door twice.  Good!

Then Wednesday, she just seemed super lethargic.  I asked the nurse about it and was basically told nothing to worry about, no problem, just tired.

Thursday, she was even more lethargic.  I asked the nurse about it, and was told the same.  I asked the doctor about it, and the same.  (But I missed seeing the doctors on rounds, maybe I was in the restroom.  They come in, say a few words, and leave really fast in a little pack.  It would be nice if they'd introduce themselves.)

Today, Friday, she's super lethargic again.

So, this doesn't strike me as fading into the sunset sort of lethargic.  This strikes me as drugged lethargic.  If I felt like she were fading into death, I'd be sad, but okay.  She's 90 and has had a good life.  But this doesn't feel like that.

I keep asking.

Yesterday, the Physical Therapist tried to get her up.  She would sit up, then stood, but all she wanted to do was sleep.  I don't think this is my Mom being depressed or uncooperative or whatever.  I think this is her being druggy lethargic.

Today, I caught the doctors on rounds.  I explained what I'd seen over the past few days, the increasing lethargy, change from walking on Tuesday to barely sitting or standing yesterday.

They all said the nice stuff I'm sure they're told to say: thank you for advocating.  We hear your concern.  

They said they'd run some test on her blood for the new drug they're giving her, but that it doesn't cause lethargy.

So here's the thing:  they should be concerned that she's grown more and not less lethargic on their watch, no?  I don't know if they're over busy, over worked, exhausted, bored by her case, given up on her because she's 90, or what.  But they don't seem like they do more than say the words they've been told to say in that meaningless way.

OMG, it's like listening to the administrative types blather meaninglessly in ways that really mean, "we aren't interested in this and aren't doing a thing about it because something else... but we want you to feel placated."

I don't feel placated.

Thursday, December 30, 2021


 My Mom fell a week or so before Christmas, and then had an episode of ... sort of not being there or something, so they took her back to the hospital (after sending her home the day after her fall having observed her all night).  And now we're waiting on a room in a rehab place.

I remember reading before how transferring patients to rehab or nursing facilities was hard and horrible, and now I'm living at least some of the frustrations of that.

I got here Christmas, and my brother was here.  He's amazing in all the best ways.  He brought me up to her room.  And then he flew out the next morning, and I've been here every day since.  So, this is day five on my watch, still waiting on a place.  And it doesn't look like anything is happening very fast.  

My hope is for Monday.  Finger's crossed.  I'm flying out on Tuesday morning... just changed my plans to that, but may have to change them again. 


I read something the other day that all sorts of medical folks are getting involved in various arts, writing, and such to deal with the pandemic stress, and it reminded me of some of the medical blogs I read back in the day when blogs were more of a thing.  I guess they were just ten years early (or more?)


One thing getting a PhD or working in any academic setting prepares you for: patiently waiting for bureaucracy to edge towards getting something done.

One of the nurses told me she has four patients (including my Mom), and three of them are waiting on a room somewhere else to be discharged.  That has to be frustrating for everyone involved, no?

Do we not have enough skilled nursing/rehab facilities?  (That's my guess, along with the ones we have being understaffed for the holidays and extra understaffed with covid, and super extra understaffed with the omicron problem.


I started reading Station Eleven the day after Christmas waiting in the room.  (My Mom mostly sleeps.)  It's not a good choice for me, not right now, not during omicron, just not.  But it's really well written.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Remember When?

 We just had a bit of a snow dump, so here's a picture to remind us that warmer times with flowers and butterflies will come.