Students move in on Saturday, at least the new ones, but faculty are back on campus as of Wednesday morning. May the gods offer us strength (Athena is my pick, but that is because she was the patroness of my undergraduate college, but you could pick Thoth, or one of those monotheistic gods, to make your offerings to).
I am just not ready for this. I generally like the beginning of the academic year (I teach college undergrads primarily), but it is scary as well, every year. I never have done enough to prepare.
It isn't as though I have been a slacker. I spent several weeks this summer doing faculty development things. I did a multi-week institute on Japanese culture (which will show up in a spring course rather than the one I thought it would be used in -- more on that in a later diary), a week on undergraduate research (business meeting and conference), and a weekend conference for an honour society that I just got back from. In addition, the end of last week and the start of this one are days of reading portfolios from graduated students, something that is always good to remind me of what works and what doesn't in the classroom and what our students are thinking is good work (which may or may not line up with what I would consider good!). So I have spent a surprising amount of the summer thinking about teaching in a very broad sense. But the research was limited and I am a bit panicked about one major project I should be finished with and I feel I am just getting started on.
I still have not planned my classes and I want to make some changes in two of my three large lecture classes. I was supposed to write the proposal for a change in the major this summer. I can do that quickly. All the thinking has been done, but the writing has not. Syllabi also can be constructed relatively quickly and the planning of classroom visits, etc., will be easy to arrange at the beginning of next week. It will get done.
Follow me below the gilded filigree for some thoughts and a request for help.
There are other things that going back to school means, at least for me. One is that I will start to write again about teaching here. I have tried to write a pretty regular Saturday diary about teaching under the general heading of "Teachers' Lounge", a name coined by rserven many years ago when she collected all the education diaries in the days before searching by tags was possible. That weekly series was a wonderful place to talk through ideas and share frustrations and I missed it when she decided to move on from that. When you miss something perhaps it is best to start with it yourself. But anyone else is welcome to write the diary some week; just send me a message.
Even if you aren't interested in writing a Teachers' Lounge diary, I hope you stop in occasionally. And you can help me. Is there something that you find a challenge in teaching or studying? I don't know for sure that I can write about it, but I am often strapped for ideas and I would like to have your suggestions. Feel free to leave a comment or Kosmail me.
I will be starting this series again on Saturday. It probably will be posted early in the afternoon. Please stop by and say hello, this weekend or weekends in the future.