January 30, 2003

Sick day yesterday

For the first time in a long time (a few years), I asked the office manager in my department to log a sick day for me. Usually, when I’m sick, I just work from home and get something done productively. No such luck, yesterday. I watched a campus meeting via the Internet, but I didn’t get any grading, writing, or reading done. Or, at least, not enough to count. My children were sick and home from school, too, which didn’t help. So, because I have a largely unset schedule, should I have taken advantage of that fact and not reported the sick day?

Honesty is the best policy in this case. I was sick. I didn’t get work done. Tough. I can take a sick day, occasionally.

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Posted in Random comments at 6:59 AM (Permalink) |

January 26, 2003

On-line quiz development

I’ve just finished the third on-line quiz for EDF 6517 (the historical foundations course). I think I finally have the drafting of quizzes on-line down. Last week I discovered that I can’t give detailed, individual feedback to students. Rats! So I add feedback to the essay/short answer items, and I’ve promised to give individualized feedback if students want it.

This is just a learning process.

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Posted in Teaching at 5:20 PM (Permalink) |

January 17, 2003

Work habits and meetings

The student from Haverford College who was shadowing me for several days this week told me yesterday (his last day) that I don’t end my work when I go home for the day. In fact, for the week, I did work late at night (which I do approximately half of every workweek). He saw that as unusual in jobs.

Part of the reason why I often work late at night is because of where I am at the moment, in a department meeting. The faculty is debating whether credentialing graduate faculty (whether someone can chair a doctoral dissertation committee) should happen at the college or department level. The consensus, I think, is that we think there still needs to be a college process, and that the proposal to shift it back to the department is not the fundamental question (the standards we use).

So I’ll be up again tonight doing something... not sure what, but something.

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Posted in Random comments at 2:47 PM (Permalink) |

January 15, 2003

Me and my shadow

A sophomore from my alma mater, Haverford College, is shadowing me around this week for a few days. Haverford and Bryn Mawr College, which share the same career office for students, calls these externships (as opposed to internships, though I don’t understand why), and James is the third externship who’s visited me in the last 5 years. Last year’s extern, Andreja, came during an incredibly dramatic time, shortly after our university Board of Trustees announced it wanted to fire a tenured professor, and she was there for an emergency faculty senate meeting that clearly disapproved of the administration’s efforts.

This year, life is more normal (well, apart from the local union chapter‘s struggles with the administration), so he’s getting the more typical mix of faculty activities at the beginning of the semester. He’s been to both of my classes this week, seen two hours of spine-tingling editing (where’s the antecedent?—yes, we have the next candidate for Reality TV), looked at several research proposals, seen several reviews I’ve written for a refereed journal, watched as I created an on-line quiz, and seen me rush around as I usually do this time of the semester.

Oh, yes, he’s seen the pre-Disastered Office.

Now, was I supposed to encourage him to go to grad school, or not? We’ve talked a bit about what graduate school is like, what academics are like, and he’s asked the logical question: What else can someone who has a degree in European history before 1918 do with a Ph.D.? I suggested the booklet on the subject published by the American Historical Association.

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Posted in Random comments at 7:47 AM (Permalink) |

January 6, 2003

Smooth day

Today was not a particularly productive day. Nothing great happened. No great epiphanies. No finished projects. But it was a remarkably smooth day to begin a semester, at least for me: appointment at 8:30, discussion with some colleagues a bit later, appointment made at credit union for 1 pm, some business by phone until then, appointment at credit union, drive home, spend time with children, babysitter arrives on time, drive back to campus with a short stop at Wal-Mart for Polaroid film (see below), collect everything for class, go to class, have most of the class with you for the whole time (nice the first day), go home, go pick up new car. Some of that was not work-related, but there were no missed steps anywhere in the day. It’s a rare phenomenon and gives me the illusion that I’ve been in the middle of a railyard stepping effortlessly from one train to another through open doors, without so much as a jolt.

Tomorrow will surely have all sorts of mishaps. Maybe not.

Polaroid’s tiny i-Zone cameras have one very useful purpose: you can take pictures of students, quickly attach the photographs to the back of index cards with their names (and other relevant information, and then have flash cards to learn names.

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Posted in Random comments at 11:46 PM (Permalink) |