Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Afternoon

Ugh! Why did I offer to give a makeup exam at 5pm on a Friday? Especially when it is so nice outside. Although all I really want to do is go home and sleep. (oh wow... the guy just showed up, apparently we had our wires crossed on this and he thought he was just coming to explain why he missed the exam in the first place, which actually is fine with me 'cause now I'm heading home!)

Right, so yesterday I posted about the guest lecturing gig. It went over pretty well I think. It is weird lecturing to a different group of students. At least with my own class, I know who is going to pay attention and who isn't, who typically sleeps and who doesn't, who is chatty and who isn't.

Speaking of my class, yesterday's was definitely an interesting one. The lecture was on attraction and it is one of my favorites because I have a fun demonstration in the middle, and several easy jokes that students usually laugh at, so I look forward to this lecture. About 3 minutes into the lecture, the wireless microphone battery dies. Thank goodness I had another one in my bag (that was one of the first pieces of advice my advisor gave me when I started teaching... bring extra batteries). Unfortunately that threw me off a bit from the lecture, and just when I thought I was back on track, I said something that apparently was quite funny (I have no idea what I said. I find often when I teach, afterwards I don't remember very much of what I said, I just trust that it was decent). But this was so funny that students were laughing really hard, the type of laughing they would do if my shirt fell off. I was absolutely freaked, because I don't know what I said. I was paranoid for a while that my pants had vaporized or something. Then just when I had recovered from that, I looked to my right and there was a girl squating down having a chat with a guy who was sitting in a seat. Now, if someone was chatting with the person sitting next to them, that annoys me, but at least they are both presumably students. I couldn't figure out why this girl was squatting on the floor if she was a student, so I stopped lecturing and stared. I stared for a good 30 seconds and most of the class started staring in that direction. The guy and girl finally noticed and I said something about having a good conversation (again no memory for what exactly came out of my mouth). The squating girl jumped up and ran out of the room and the guy slunk down in his seat. The rest of the class laughed. After that I was more relaxed than usual through the lecture. I think I even said "that sucked" at one point. To me, it was probably ranks up there with the worst lectures I've given, but in trying to keep an open-mind (and stay an optimist) I have a feeling that the students actually enjoyed it. (Or maybe I'm hoping that the pratfall phenomenon which I lectured about yesterday does really happen!)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Guest Lecturer

So sometime back before the semester started, I happily agreed to guest lecture for 30 minutes for another grad student's intro level class. They are doing a chapter on gender and since I'm the resident expert (HA!), she asked if I'd do a little presentation. "Sure, no problem." I didn't realize at the time that her class was the same day as mine. Now still being a grad student, I haven't taught more than 1 class in a day, so I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed having to prep two lectures today (even if 1 is only 30 minutes and not a full class period). I'm mostly worried that I'll kick ass in the guest lecturing, but tired out for my own class. Will there ever be a point where teaching isn't so exhausting? I mean, right now it mostly wears me about because of the high adrenaline kick and nerves right before starting followed by the adrenaline crash about 10 minutes after class ends. Enough babbling and time wasting...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Annoyances, Disappointments, and Joys

I've been waiting in my office all morning for the TA to bring me the grades for my students' exam, which was Thursday. Now the delay in the grading being accomplished is partly my fault because I switched the exam day to coincide with the TA's trip to a conference. He said he was going to grade them Sunday night when he got back and send me the stuff asap. Clearly at 4:30pm on Monday, I've received nothing. I checked at his office and he wasn't around. I just threw a quick post on the class website apologizing for the delay in grades, but if it is much longer, I'm going to start getting angry emails from students. And I don't feel like dealing with those.

I'm disappointed because I won an award, but I can't go to the award ceremony. It is a teaching award which gives me an honorarium and a chance to develop and teach my own class on a topic of my choice. But the ceremony is the same day that I teach and starts a mere half an hour before my class. I toyed with cancelling class, but then thought that's not very teacherly-like. It is also the last class of the semester. Oh well, I still get the award, just not the public "praise and thanks" that the invitation promised.

Despite these annoyances and disappointment, I am feeling very happy today. I talked with another grad student today about dissertation stuff. She's preparing her proposal and asked to see mine as an example. We'll both be finishing next May and it was helpful to talk to her because I think we both did a good job of encouraging the other and reaching the conclusion of "we can do this, it isn't impossible."

The thing that really made the day great was a brief encounter with one of my favorite professors. This prof was on my qualifying exams committee and is currently on my dissertation committee. I had a fabulous class with him a few semesters ago and I'm fairly confident that he likes me. He is older and acts very curmudgeon, but underneath is a sweetheart. Anyway, out of nowhere he comes down to my office and pops his head in. He asks me if I know where Yoda is (how he likes to refer to the prof in the office next to mine). He then mentions that he got an email from a professor friend of his at big mid-western university looking for post-doc candidates and that he thought it would be a great position for me if only it wasn't for starting in Sept. He said he would email me the information so I could take a look at it. Not only did he email me the stuff, but he emailed his prof friend and said "I have the great student who fortuantely for us will be here next year, which is unfortunate for you and your program." The prof friend wrote back (which was forwarded to me) that I should contact him in early '07 if I'm still interested. How awesome is that! 1) Confirmation that this prof does really like me. 2) He's looking out for possible positions for me after I finish here. 3) Oh god, job/post-doc life is looming and I really should be starting to look/compile documents. Crap, I just went from happy to terrified!

Cop out post

I've been too busy recently with school stuff, personal stuff, and vistors, so you get a meme.

I forget what the instructions exactly said on this one, but it was something about putting your iPod on shuffle, asking the following questions, and recording the results.

How does the world see me?
"Kooks" by David Bowie (Hunky Dory)
hmmm... probably somewhat accurate

Will I have a happy life?
"Day Tripper" by The Beatles (1)
I don't know what this means

What do my friends think of me?
"Leave" by Barenaked Ladies (Stunt)

Do people secretly lust after me?
"Home" by Ellis Paul (American Jukebox Fables)
is this an odd way of saying my libf (live-in boyfriend)

How can I make myself happy?
"The River" by Bruce Springsteen (Greatest Hits)
visit a river? jump in a river?

What should I do with my life?
"Detriot Rock City" by Kiss
I've never been to Detriot, do they have good universities there?

Will I ever have children?
"I'll be There for You" by Bon Jovi (Cross Road)
another cryptic one

What is some good advice for me?
"The Ocean" by U2 (Boy)
What is with the water theme?

How will I be remembered?
"Always Run to You" by Bon Jovi (7800 degrees Fahrenheit)
I think this is good

What is my signature dancing song?
"Lead Me On" by Teena Marie (Top Gun Soundtrack)

What do I think is my current theme song?
"More than Physical" by Bananarama

What does everyone think my theme song is?
"You're Only Human (Second Wind)" by Billy Joel (Greatest Hits, Vol 2)
More interesting...

What song will play at my funeral?
"He's So Shy" by the Pointer Sisters
Hahahaha. Maybe "she's so shy"

What type of men do I like?
"It'll All Work Out" by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

What is my day going to be like?
"Born to be My Baby" by Bon Jovi (New Jersey)
I don't know what the song means to how my day will be, but it is one of my favorite songs, so I guess a good day!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

No nap for me...

I left my office for about 30 minutes to run to the student center for some food. I found $5 at the bottom of my purse, which wasn't enough for an over-priced sandwich, so I just got a bagel and a donut. Hopefully the sugar rush will help keep me awake (although my stomach is feeling queasy now) because in the time I was out of my office, my officemate showed up. She's nice and sweet, but when we're both in here together it is cramped! I was sort of hoping to eat a quick lunch and maybe rest my eyes for 40 minutes before meeting with my advisor.

I did manage to finish another lecture for my class. If I finish up 1 more, I'll have finished the textbook lectures (which honestly are the easy ones because I have my old lectures to plagiarize from). The last three weeks of class are a special applied topic, which I decided to throw in for fun (stupid me!). I have quite a bit of reading and preparing to do for that because it is just as new to me as it is to my students. If I can bang out this last textbook lecture, I can hopefully avoid a situation of the blind leading the blind!

Alert the Media!

I'm actually sitting in my office at 9:30am. It certainly isn't the first time, but it is the first time in a loooong time. I got up early today with the plan of driving to my parent's place (about an hour or so away) to take care of some things, but those plans are on hold. I debated for about 20 minutes whether I should try to work at home or come over to my office. I need to be here for a meeting in the afternoon followed by class. The debate consisted of one pro and one con on each side:
Stay home- Con: Probably won't get much work done, Pro: Easy access to lunch
Go to office- Pro: Will likely get work done, Con: Probably vending machine lunch

So, I decided to choose work over food. If I get bored working or staring at my office walls, I'll probably walk over to the Student Center and grab a sandwich (*fingers crossed that I actually have some cash on me*).

Class Tuesday was interesting. According to the syllabus, the students were supposed to have an exam on Tuesday (cruel scheduling an exam immediately after spring break, huh?). Well, a couple of weeks ago there was an equipment failure in the classroom and I couldn't show the video I had ready to go and I didn't have anything else prepared, so I cancelled class and bumped everything on the syllabus back a day. I made announcements for 2+ weeks and posted on the class website that the exam will be pushed back a day. And still, apparently that didn't reach everyone because class was more full than on any other lecture, and there were clearly a number of students who I haven't seen since the last exam. It always amazes me that there are some students who only show up for exams. I can't imagine that they do well. I remember when I was an undergrad I would cut class on occasion. But generally I wouldn't cut any one class more than twice in a semester. Then again, I was a goody goody.

Speaking of students, do you ever have those students who are so sweet and nice and interested in the material, but they just can't seem to get it together on the exams? There is this one guy in class who comes to my office hours and asks intelligent questions. He comes up after class and asks for clarifications on the lecture. He admits to actually reading and enjoying the textbook. After class, I've seen him talk to his classmates and help the ones who need help (for example, on Tuesday he moved some desks out of the way for a girl who uses a cane). He even offered his notes to a girl who had missed several classes and didn't know anyone in class. This guy tries so hard, but his exam grades just don't reflect it and it breaks my heart. I hope that if I end up at a small university with manageable class sizes (no more of this 400+ student classes), I can create assignments that can better assess students' understanding and not just their ability to memorize and spit things back on an exam.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

So tired...

Why am I so tired? The past two days I've stayed in bed until nearly 11, even though I have tons of work that I need to be doing. The alarm goes off at 8, but I just can't get up.

I had the most terrible dream last night. (Background to the dream... Thursday my class has an exam and the TA can't be there, so he is supposed to drop off the copied exams to me sometime soon. This semester's TA is fairly responsible as compared to last semester's). So in the dream, the TA drops off the exams for me and I take them over to the class and meet up with the proctors. As I am about to start passing out the exams, I notice about half of them are blank, no exam was copied after the first page. I suddenly have a situation in which some exams have been handed out, other students are waiting, and I have 200 exams that are just blank paper. To top it off, there are no scantrons, which means I'll have to grade all of the exams by hand. Students are rioting and I have to think quickly to come up with a solution. Those without an exam are happy to have extra study time, but those with an exam are pissed because they want extra time too, but they've already seen the exam.

That dream is probably in part why I didn't want to get out of bed this morning. I have a lecture to give this afternoon and I don't feel like. This class is by far the most disrespectful class I've had. The talk, check their cell phones, text message, and play on their laptops while I lecture and especially when I show a video. Despite my repeatedly scolding them for the rudeness, they just persist. As convenient as laptops are, I wish I could ban my students from using them during class because they are clearly instant messaging, checking email, and playing games. But then again, I guess that is their own problem if they do poorly in the class.

Ok, I've wasted enough time right now. Hopefully, I'll go prep my lecture and not just stare at the TV for another hour...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Twice in one day...

I've really got a lot of things I want to talk about. Sometimes they all rush into my head at once (usually when I've driving or otherwise not near a computer) and often they all vanish when I sit in front of the computer to post an entry.

Shit... and there they all go...

Ok, well, I'm new to this academic/life blogging thing. I did mention I have another blog (it's a knitting blog - there's hundreds of them, so I doubt you'll find me especially because I'm fairly low on the popularity scale). For the most part if it isn't knitting related, the stuff posted there is fairly benign life stuff, because as I mentioned before, my mom reads it, so I can't say something that has been on my mind for a while such as "I've been on the pill for nearly 10 years, maybe I should try something else. Anyone have opinions on alternative options?" Yeah, mom can't know that. Also, since it isn't anonymous/pseudonymous I can't openly complain about students or school without the fear of students or professors finding it. Posting "my advisor is really pissing me off today" (which isn't true right now, but was a couple of weeks ago) is not so smart when she could probably easily find it.

So that's why I've created this blog. How about some more about me?

Yes, I'm a grad student at a research 1 university. I'll tell you I'm in psychology, but otherwise we'll leave it vague. I'm just starting the dissertation phase and hope to be finished and employed by May '07. I teach a very large (400 students, lucky me) upper level lecture course in psychology. I've been teaching these big classes for the past 3 years so it is old hat to me now, although I do hope to end up at a university with much, much smaller class sizes.

Are you still reading?

Where did the title come from? Good question. "The Art of Distance" is the title of a song by singer/songwriter Ellis Paul. Go google him. Listen to his music. It is poetic and moving and lovely. I thought "the art of distance" is a good name for a pseudonymous blog. It is an art (that will probably take me some time to perfect, but I've seen done beautifully on other pseudonymous academic blogs) to simultaneously put yourself out to the world, yet keep just enough hidden.

As time goes by, you'll learn more about me (and I hope to learn more about you), but questions in the comments are always welcome to draw out more information (although I reserve the right to not answer everything!).

Let's see now that I've wasted 2 hours setting up this blog and posting, it would probably be smart to get back to writing a few lectures so I won't have to throw them together at the last minute like usual!

First Day...

Welcome to my bloggie blog. This is blog #2 for me. Blog #1 is fairly public; the people who read that know who I am. And oh yeah, my mom reads it, so I needed a new place to post "racier" material. Ok, there probably won't be too much racy here, but I intend this blog to be a place where I can anonymously gripe and complain about life.

I'll likely talk about graduate school life and teaching, my dissertation, the looming job search process. I'll also talk about personal matters and whatever else is on my mind.

I'm open to comments and suggestions. But remember, if you don't like what you see here than move along.

I'm not sure how frequently I'll post as I have a hard enough time posting regularly on blog #1.