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Archive for September, 2013

Planning for Productive Weekend

September 27th, 2013 at 08:14 am

I have loads to do. Paper grading is looming, and I've just finished commenting on 27 pretty awful assignments.

Maybe it's the thought of DH's job instability, the upcoming conference talk, or even (yeah!) London that makes me want to hunker down, clean the house, make soup, and prepare. Maybe it's fall?

I'll know by next week whether I'll have enough London students to go this year. But I'm cautiously optimistic. We took quite a financial hit last year as I was on half salary while there, ironically working at least as hard as at home. But I've volunteered to do an online version of one of my regular offerings in addition to the London classes. Since I'm teaching that class now, I've been trying to compose the online class for spring term at the same time. I'll regret not having the luxury of just focusing on London, but if I get everything up and operating, it should be less painful.

So, the dishwasher is humming as is the washer. Next step might be the slow cooker.

An off topic addendum: I hate banks. The $10K that I moved to Chase for their $150 bonus has earned me a whooping 14 cents in 90 days. And reading about their trading scandals and executive pay have not further endeared them to me. As soon as the bonus hits, the cash is going into the credit union.

Lots of Things Cooking

September 25th, 2013 at 07:36 pm

Wow, we're almost at the end of Week 4 of the semester. That's 1/4 of the way through. I'm thrilled to report I have managed again to learn everyone's names. I live in fear of the term when I won't be able to learn 100 new names.

London recruiting seems to be going well, but is keeping me plenty busy. DD seems to be handling middle school much better this year, and although my house looks a tornado hit it, I feel on top of most other things.

Our only potentially bad news is word of another end of project for DH. He may be out of work as soon as October 1. He's put the word out all over the company, so we're hoping for the best.

I'm giving a conference talk in New Orleans at the end of the month with a colleague. I was hoping the three of us could go, but with the job issues and a few other complications, it looks like I might have the time to myself.

Flu-ish Cold or Cold-ish Flu?

September 18th, 2013 at 07:20 pm

DD and I have been down for days with some kind of nasty flu-like cold. It hit me like a tons of bricks on Monday, but I was determined to push through it. Man, that was a stupid idea. By Monday night I was miserable. On Tuesday I tried to go to school, but left after my office hours, and DD came home after 30 minutes at school. Last night she slept 14 hours, and I cancelled my classes today and switched all the assignments and discussions on line. I am better now, but I've never had a mere cold hit me like that. Yeesh.

We spent nothing for days. I suspect DH will have it tomorrow. Everyone blames the weather, but that makes no sense to me.

I'm going to school tomorrow as I'm sick of me in sweats and a tee shirt. Keep your fingers crossed for my London enrollments. We seem a bit shaky to me.

Not Spending Much

September 12th, 2013 at 09:16 pm

I think all I've bought in the past three days is some yogurt for DD and two cups of iced coffee at school.
It's just too busy for much else.

Another full day of teaching today with little prep or grading done. I had that iced coffee with a prospective London student. I think we have 15 now that have started the applications.

Tonight we attended the middle school (or Muggle school as we call it) parents' night. I'm always happy to hear other people's kids lose as many assignments, spend as much on lunch, and are chronic dawdlers like mine. But I'm not sure I needed 160 minutes there. We got nothing else done tonight. Yikes.

In further financial news, I sold a book for $90 and saved a mint at CVS. Their stooopid coupon machine wouldn't print, so the cashier gave me double off. Isn't that nice? I paid for ALL of my purchases with coupons and extra bucks. Such thrills!

Yet Another Update in my War Against the Class Room Phone

September 10th, 2013 at 08:41 pm

What might may been a fairly minor, but destructive, skirmish today turned into a victory.

My class was rolling right along, plenty of participation, some jokes, lots of student involvement--except for the gentleman in the top right-hand corner of the room who was obviously (to me) texting with his phone on his lap.

Last year, I called a student out about the phone issue, and we immediately squared off. It created a tension that lasted far too long. Today, I had a better idea. I ask them to read my "Classroom Policies and Procedures" document with the syllabus, but I suspect many do not. As the student's texting continued, at a suitable pause, I decided this might be the optimum time to review those policies.

I projected the policies, read them aloud, and emphasized that a phone infraction counted as an absence, and detailed the absence penalties. Facing the screen rather than the students as I read, I could hear a rustle of a backpack unzipping and the phone being jammed into the bag. I assured them if this infraction happened today, I was giving them a free pass, but next time, the rules apply.

Every single question I asked for the rest of the class, the guilty party has his hand up, ready to respond.

An ally, not an enemy. Everyone's happy.

What a Long Day

September 10th, 2013 at 06:45 am

Except for two breaks yesterday, I taught from 8am until 10pm. Everything went very well, but I'm glad I only have five weeks left of my evening class. What a grind.

Especially when it's a long day like that, I tend to go on auto pilot, making sure students are engaged and getting the information, but not probably as open to their emotional reactions. Last night, my confused student who couldn't find Pride and Prejudice and seems addicted to her phone talked to me after class. She wanted to let me know she'd be late next week as she's having wisdom teeth pulled. Would you go to class after having teeth pulled? I tried to reassure her a bit, but oddly, for someone who usually appears very tough, she broke down in tears and started telling me how scared she was to have her teeth pulled. The emotional angst of first weeks just adds to the exhaustion.

Off to a London meeting this morning before my class. These are busy busy weeks.

A Low-Key Rainy Day

September 7th, 2013 at 08:20 pm

Now that school's in session, I think lots of my time will be spent course planning for my new class. While it's mostly seniors, their levels of preparation are widely varied, and I can see the class will need some fine tuning from my original plan.

So, while DD was at a birthday party I spent a few hours plotting the class work and homework for next week.

Spending was confined to a pretty darn frugal grocery store trip. We were very happy to see hours of rain today. We certainly needed it.

One note of hilarity from my evening "open enrollment college" job: Two weeks ago I assigned 50 pages of _Pride and Prejudice._ Tonight a student e-mailed me to tell me she couldn't find the book anywhere. Regular readers of my tales of woe may remember this student being chastised for her cell phone habits during class. I sent her a link to the 162 copies in our county library, assuring her at least one must be available.

First Week Fatigue

September 6th, 2013 at 07:02 pm

We're all dragging around here after the first week of school. Does everybody get worn out like this?

But I had a cheap and very nice day. Next week is my birthday and a friend took me out for lunch at my favorite tapas spot. While she paid for lunch, I have a loyalty card there, and have now earned a $25 bonus.

On the other cheapskate front, we got a free rotisserie chicken at the grocery store today with a coupon as well as a free Bird's Eye Voila meal. We won both in the supermarket's latest inane game. But free food is good and we had the chicken for dinner.

Now, back to reading my students' introduction assignments. Looks like I have some real corkers this semester.

Study Abroad Fair

September 5th, 2013 at 06:36 pm

We had a great time at the Study Abroad Fair today, and there was indeed lunch. Four of my former students stopped by, and we filled a sheet up with folks who are interested in this spring's trip.

I was on my feet from 8-2 and boy, am I tired. Hoping to find some great down time this weekend. Not much financial news, but we are successfully eating through most of the fridge and freezer.

First Week Craziness

September 4th, 2013 at 08:23 pm

It's been a crazy first week back at school. All my classes are full, I'm mentoring new instructors, and both DH and DD are back at school too.

Tomorrow should be fun. It's our Study Abroad Fair and last year's Londoners have promised to drop in. I'm very excited to see them and recruit more for this spring. I'll be there all day, and I seem to remember they bring us lunch. At least I hope so!

It's been so busy that it's been a very low-spending week. Long may it continue.