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.

Friday, August 31, 2007

First week of classes

It's Friday and I've finished my first week of classes. I will say that I am very much enjoying my new job so far. I have luckily been given courses to teach that I have already taught in the past. But even so there have been a lot of changes that I have had to make because the class size is so much smaller. I am also noticing the differences between a larger university and a small liberal arts college:
  • students are more willing to go to the professor and expect one-on-one attention (a good thing in my book)
  • This extra attention requires a lot of time and work on my part (still good, I need to learn to manage my time better)
  • Having students do discussions and active learning takes a lot of planning.
  • Students love to listen to music before class, but they don't like all of my musical tastes.
  • You get to really know people outside of your department
  • faculty must wear many many hats
  • I like small colleges much better than big universities!

So my first week went well. I will really need to work on learning my students' names but that will come in a couple of weeks hopefully. I am even more excited to start to get past the dryer introductory stuff and get into more interesting material. I just hope that I do not overwork my students. I'm hoping that averaging one out-of class assignment per chapter is a good number. I also try to do some sort of active learning (discussion, writing, group work) in every class period.

I am very much looking forward to my long weekend this labor day. Weather is supposed to be very nice out and there is a ton of stuff going on in the area. I hope I have time to relax :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Remember what is was like?

I was thinking the other day that it is so easy to forget what it was like to be new in a place. For many of us, we might start a new job, start at a new school, or move to a new city several times in our lives. But once we have been somewhere for a while we take for granted what we did not know and how apprehensive or even scared we might have felt.

I had been in Grand Forks for 5 years before moving here just this past week. I vaguely remember the whirlwind of starting grad school, but after 2-3 years, I just took for granted what I knew and often wondered why the new grad students seemed so busy all of the time.

I am back to being new somewhere and I think I have a bit of a new perspective. This year, not only am I new to this school, but several of the students that I will be teaching and in contact with will be new to this school. I think faculty will sometimes assume that students know things that they have known because they have been here for a while. I know that I did that as a grad student. I plan to be more direct in letting students know what is out there for them to use (tutors, services, activities, etc).

Just going through this week of meetings and information reminded me of how much there is to learn about an institution that you are new to. But at least I am familiar with how college and universities generally do business....imagine what the first year student must be going through!

Monday, August 20, 2007

My First Day.

This is the title of the pilot episode of one of my favorite shows "Scrubs" and is a statement about what this day was. My first day of work at my new college. The day I've been waiting for! I am now officially on contract and am now officially getting paid (though the first check doesn't come until late September). Today was hectic and full of new information. Basically the idea today was to completely overwhelm all of us new faculty with information about the history of the college, how the curriculum works, the philosophy of the curriculum, the pay system, how the e-mail system works, etc.

However, even though we got a lot of information today, I do not feel like I have no idea what is going on. Luckily for me my own philosophy and the philosophy of the school line up very well. But it was a long day. I actually went in early to get some work done, then had meetings all day and then finished the work I wanted to do after these meetings were done. I get to do it all again tomorrow and pretty much everyday of this week.

Monday, August 06, 2007

One week to moving day

Moving day is officially set at Tuesday August 14th. Most of the house is loaded up and packed away in boxes. There are just a few more things to get done. But I can hardly believe that I will be leaving here after 5 years. Hopefully the move goes well!

I have just received my schedule for my first week at work. This involves new faculty orientations and workshops. A full week, which I wasn't quite expecting. I thought it might be half days leaving the other half for me to settle into my office and get ready for classes to start. Not the case, so I am busy getting the first few weeks of classes more or less prepared. I also learned that there will be a marticulation ceremony on the Friday before classes start. This should be interesting! I'm glad that I bought my regalia for graduation...looks like I'll be getting some use out of it!