The Life of a Wannabe Academic

Detail of the life a new academic. The progress from graduate training to professor. Includes reflections on the job hunting process, research in technology and education, and what it is like to be a new college professor.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'm already in the weeds!

Those of you who have ever worked in a restaurant know exactly what this term means. It is only the second week of school and I already feel like I'm behind. Much of the distress comes from not knowing if I will need to officially graduate in December or not. If so I really need to dedicate most of my time to dissertation writing. But right now there are other demands on my time...getting job applications out, revising a literature review, preping for class, entering data in time to possibly present in time for our University conference (Northern Lights Psychology Conference), plus just surviving the several weekend trips that will be made this month.

This week I focus on getting my job packages out because once they are out, I really no longer need to think about them until I start being contacted. I also want to get this review article back out so that I don't need to worry about that either. Once these two things are done and out of my hands much more dedication to my dissertation can occur.

I've done pretty well so far this semester keeping on task and I have already accomplished a lot especially when it comes to the job packages. Really all I have left right now is to finish a few more cover letters to some recent postings, make copies of different job components and then start stuffing envenlopes. Much of the hard work applying for jobs at this point is done (i.e. cover letters). Now I will need to focus on the potential job talk and that will grow out of what I write up for my dissertation, so they are pretty much the same.

For now I just need to keep plugging away. Luckily I have taught Intro a few times so there is not a huge amount of prep work involved in it. This year it is mostly management issues with having 200+ students.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


The first day of class was an interesting experience. First, my class is HUGE! I didn't realize what 200 people in one room looked like. Secondly, I was nervous, but not that nervous. Usually I feel very uncomfortable the first day, but today I just had a few jitters.

Overall the first day went well. I did the normal stuff and introduced myself and went over the syllabus. But the thing I was most happy about was that the Personal Response System worked almost without a hitch! I had the students practice using it with just a few slides with basic demographic information (year, major, where from, etc) and things went well. I also asked if they enjoyed it and they had a positive reaction.

Now next week I start going over content and I am already worried that I am behind! I may need to trim down the research methods part a little bit. Not by much but at least a little. I am excited for the rest of the semester. With the practice that I've had teaching Intro I feel much more comfortable and now an actually starting to really enjoy lecturing on many topics. I'm also glad that I've decided to take out some stuff, and add other possibly more interesting stuff for the students.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

First day of Lecture

I am just a half hour out of my first lecture of the year. I am prepared! All of my notes are in order, my flash drive works and has the required files on it, and I checked with the classroom services to make sure the TurningPoint software and receiver are in and working.

There are a couple of new things I want to do this semester. 1) to keep a record of the student responses using the TurningPoint clickers and trying to get some research on that and 2) I want to write some of my own exam questions rather than simply going from the test bank.

I also am excited to have TA's and labs to prepare. This will allow more hand's on learning for the students and hopefully they will be useful. I intend to poll the students after each test to see which labs they felt were the most and least useful and why they view them that way. Hopefully my TA's will also have some insight as to what sort of stuff to do in the labs, but I will not count on it too much. They are busy people and our meetings are 3 days before the labs actually meet.

So anyway, I hope all things go well. I'm not really too nervous yet, even though I'll be in front of 200+ people in a bit. I'm sure I will be when I get in the room!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Back to School

Well, it has officially started. Classes started at 4:00pm on Monday and now the new school year is in full swing. Today is the first full day of classes. My class does not start until tomorrow, but I still have a lot of preparation to do yet. I have managed to create a hyperlinked dictionary for my online notes and I am still in the middle of doing that. I also have to update my PowerPoint and include the interactive TurningPoint slides into my presenatations. I sure hope the receiver and software are ready to go by tomorrow. And on top of it all I'd like to try to do some sort of in class research with the interactive clickers, but I still do not know what to do. There is very little research using these so I do not have a lot to go by.

Along with getting my class ready, I have quite a bit to do on the research/dissertation front. I really need to get back into it and start really thinking about the important findings and possibly starting to write up some articles on what was found. Hopefully I can get another first-author publication or two before the year is out.

Even though this year has started hectically as they all do I am still excited by the first days of school. At least I still know that I have a love for education and university life. Hopefully this year will be better on the job front and I will be able to keep up this lifestyle!