New Year, Same Me

It’s been a good month since I last shared here. I diligently prepared a “to-do” list for my 4-week break from school. I schemed on all the productivity I would have. And then, I put it away in my bag and let the whole kit-and-caboodle collect dust for 4 weeks.

It. was. GLORIOUS.

I can highly recommend it.

I’m paying for it now, trying to prep for Winter term post-haste, but you know? It’s coming together. It’ll work out. I think we all need REAL breaks now and again.

In the meantime, I suppose it being a new year I should have some new resolutions. I have thus far resolved to get to bed at night and wake up in the morning at roughly the same time Every. Single. Damn. Day. Yes. Even the weekends. I am convinced I will ultimately be happier for it. I started Monday. So far – I just feel tired. I’m beginning to suspect that I also need to get daily exercise to improve the lethargy. That sounds like work. Trying to find the motivation to get my tired butt in gear so I don’t feel so tired anymore. A vicious cycle.

 

Recent Activity

That paper I mentioned last is out! May it please the gods.

Things have been continually hectic in the last push to the end of the term. And then of course all the fun holiday shenanigans I want to engage in outside of work.

I’m weeks behind on grading. Which means I have some big reckoning to do for final grades, really soon here. I’m trying to find a better way to manage the grading – I’m hiring a “TA” student assistant type next term. I hope that helps a bit. As a small teaching-focused school, TAs aren’t that common. But man. They are needed!

So close

I am so close to getting a research paper out. And yet, dragging my feet. Cannot focus.

Thus, a blog post.

I’m sure the turmoil of the election result this week isn’t helping my focus.

Hoping it’s all been blown out of proportion, and all will be well.

In any case, whoever the president-elect is has little bearing (for now) on my ability to get tenure. That responsibility is squarely on my own shoulders.

To publish!

Depression sucks

I really had been doing so well. In so many ways.

Then my dad’s health took a rather bad turn.

And work stress is piling on top of it.

And my husband. Generally a kind man. Keeps saying things. Really stupid things. That imply somehow I am the sole keeper and responsible party for our pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. That, somehow, it’s MY fault alone that he found 3 packages of tortillas, all expired this past Spring.

Meanwhile, he’s got student aids and a student teacher, so he’s all caught up at work. He’s living the high life.

Really?

Then you figure out what the fuck to do about our pantry. YOU do the goddamn shopping, meal planning, and cooking.

He’s more than capable.

Fuck.

 

P.S. Yes. I’m sure I’m overreacting because of my mental state. Yes, I’m sure I’m “reading into things” that he never intended. But. Why is it always the woman’s goddamn responsibility to keep house and home? Hmm? If both partners work, IT ISN’T HER FUCKING JOB ALONE ANYMORE. Comprende?

Off the cuff

I’m not sure how most folks go about lecturing. In my experience so far as a professor, I mostly work in my own little kingdom (Queendom?) that is my office and my interactions with my peers tend to be more focused on service activities or research. That is to say, when I prep my lectures it is a very isolated activity.

Sure, I’ve been given syllabi and course materials from others over the years. A truly invaluable resource. But I have never really witnessed another person preparing these materials, so I’m left wondering a bit how most folks approach the task.

I personally have never been able to use another set of slides/powerpoint without at least tweaking it to my own style. I would save myself a lot of time if I could!

In the beginning, 2 short years ago, when I was but a baby professor, I would spend quite a bit of time with the textbook open, powerpoint humming on one side of the screen, and word glowing on the other. I would put together my powerpoint slides and also write the dialog I planned to say to the class. Then, after the initial draft, I would run through the roughly completed slides and practice the “talk,” as it were. I’d make any edits as necessary and then be ready to roll.

This was a slow and tedious process.

By about week 7 of my first quarter I dropped the practice round. The rough draft had to do.

By my second quarter, I often did not write out the dialog. It was more notes for the items I felt less familiar with, just in case I forgot when 60 pairs of eyes were staring at me.

Now that I’m starting my third year, things are a bit different. I seldom reference the textbook. I’m revising my own slides, so the process is decidedly less tedious as the version I’m starting with is rather close to where it ends up. And I no longer type up or practice a dialog. In fact, I often lecture a bit…off the cuff.

While my slides are prepped, what I actually say isn’t planned. Shocking, I know.

Perhaps an important point of clarification: my slides tend to be about 98% or more images. VERY little text. So the bullet points and notes one would take are synthesized in the moment as I alternate speaking and writing key points on the whiteboard. This gets me into some trouble sometimes in my survey course when the topics wonder far from my wheel house, but in my upper divisional courses that are focused on my specialty? I feel like magic happens.

I was lecturing this past week and a student asked a great (though tangential) question and I was able to incorporate that in quite seamlessly. I love that! And as I was going I realized that I know a lot about my subject! It kind of became an exercise in self-confidence-building.

Which got me wondering how other folks tend to approach their lecture prep. Do most people similarly go “off the cuff”? Or do they generally have a “talk” they’ve practiced or planned?

Curious minds want to know.

I did it

I said no. It was an offer to participate in a workshop focused on assignment design. It actually would have been really useful as I am currently re-designing my homework for my service course. But to participate would have meant completely upending my entire family’s schedule Friday (and Saturday), and paying someone to transport my son to school Friday. Additionally, I would have missed my son’s last soccer game, for which I had already volunteered to bring snack. And all of this, the weekend before Halloween.

It was just too much to ask, I felt. We could have made it work. My husband is more than capable of doing the snack and caring for the children (and himself) for 2 days without me. He’ll be doing it for longer in April when I go to a conference. But for that we have months to prepare and I *should* get a little more bang for my effort as I will be able to present work, network, and see other work at a large conference – instead of one workshop focused on one thing.

In any case, I said no and of course the world did not end. And I probably did it poorly as I outlined far too many reasons for why I was saying no, when I’m sure a simple “I cannot or no thank you” would have been sufficient. But, you know, baby steps. I have to start somewhere.