Fall Semester 2012: Rolling Right Along

Earlier I reported that Fall 2012 was not excellent, but of course, that was PARTLY tongue-in-cheek. I am happy to report that Fall Semester 2012, while still not technically averaging out to excellent in every category, is rolling right along.

1. Bag Saga
Last January I got the brilliant idea that if I bought a different bag for each class, it would help me stay organized. The official “resting spot” for the stuff for each class would be a bag, rather than a stack on my desk. (I love stacks, but they aren’t particularly useful in staying organized, at least not for me.) I figured if a bag got too heavy, that’s how I would know it was time to file.

(I have a play in which a character loses an entire set of essays in what he calls his PIO bag–Put It Off. When the bag gets too heavy, he knows it’s time to deal with what’s inside. That’s when he finds the missing set of papers, which he had lied about to his students. It’s just now occurred to me to make the connection between what I decided to do in January and Freddy. Hm.)

This bag plan worked beautifully UNTIL I hurt my shoulder while swimming. My physical therapist said at one point, “You don’t carry really heavy bags, do you?” “Um, well….” So I went back to the Bargain Nook III, where I’d bought two of the class-bags, and promptly purchased three rolling backpacks. They were heavily discounted already, and I lucked out and bought them on a day when their tags were the right color for that day’s discount–I think I paid $10 each, and these are solid Lands End bags.

The compartmentalizing continues apace. It’s working well. O.k., so, I look even more like an absolute dork as I walk across campus, but really–it’s a matter of degree. My rolling backpacks did not turn me into a dork, or even tip the scales significantly toward dorkiness. They’re just highly visible badges I’d earned long ago.

Plus, my shoulder feels great, and I’m working my way back up to the number of laps I was doing last spring when I got hurt.

2. Current Numbers
I like to report periodically how promptly I’m returning student work. Doing all right on that score, not great, but all right. I reconfigured the numbers to include D2L/online quizzes. I’ve done a lot of work to put quizzes on D2L, largely to ensure fast feedback to students. As soon as they submit their quiz, they can see what they got right and what they got wrong. Then I make sure to evaluate the scores within a day of when the quiz closed, and I report to them on whether or not I needed to adjust the scores at all. Last year, I didn’t include this in the overall numbers, but I am this year. Just because it’s not the traditional mode–collect a paper quiz, ask my student worker to score the multiple choice part, return them to students–it does still count. Then I’m keeping a separate number–how long is it taking me to return ENG 102 papers? How long to return longer writing assignments in general?

So…not where I’d like to be with the longer writing assignments. Part of that came from having a paper assignment rather than having it on D2L. I finished grading a set of Early American Lit in-class-essays on a Friday, but I wasn’t scheduled to see them until Monday, and then I took a sick day. If it had been a D2L/Drop Box assignment, the # of days would have been 9. But since I didn’t return all of them (they did have the opportunity to pick them up from me on that Friday) until Wednesday, 14 days seemed more accurate. Also note–because of budget cuts, faculty at UW-Richland don’t have a “faculty secretary” any more, so I couldn’t ask anyone to go in my office, snag the essays, and have them at the office for students to pick up. I suppose this is one way technology makes budget cuts less onerous–D2L, when I use it, is kind of my faculty secretary….

But what makes me happy is that the numbers are better than they were last spring–both in overall numbers, and in terms of where I was in Week 6 last spring. Rolling right along!

3. Dramatic Re-enactment
I mentioned that I called in sick–there are approximately sixteen hundred viruses flying around campus already, some of them stomach-related. I’ve had multiple reports of students being sick–they use colorful language to describe this less often than you would think, being college students–and then I even had an eyewitness encounter. One of my poor students got sick on his way out the door with the trash can. I told him I’d brought my camera this past Friday in case he wanted to do a dramatic re-enactment, but he said no, that he never wanted to do that again in any way. But it looked something like this:

But this student is better now, and will be caught up on Monday when he participates in peer editing. He is the kind of student who is absolutely cool enough to weather that kind of incident and end up having a good semester.

4. Impressive Student #2

Next time you find yourself wondering about, or complaining about “kids these days,” first of all, that makes you sound old, and second of all, consider this young woman. She is about to head home for ankle surgery, and her doctor is MAKING her stay at home for a few days, because everyone knows she won’t stay off her foot if she’s back in the dorms. She is my advisee, and has been meeting with me regularly to make sure the surgery doesn’t derail her semester. In my head, surgery means “good excuse to turn things in late.” For her, it means “can I do all my assignments and take all my exams EARLY?” And that’s just what she’s done. I’m looking forward to hearing from her (“or it might be my mother emailing you right at first,” she said) next week about how the surgery went, and then I’m sure we’ll have a meeting to go over her midterm grades, which will be terrific.

5. Random shots of impressive students

6. If my student working is no longer scoring multiple choice quizzes, then what….

In addition to the regular Xeroxing, shredding, and data entry, my wonderful student worker Rhiannon is now organizing my books according to the Library of Congress protocol. It looks messy, sure, but that’s not really unusual for my office, and the long-term payoff will mean that I can actually find a book in my bookcase without scanning all the books, two or three times, before I decide I must have taken it home, only to find, no, it’s in the bookcase at work after all.

7. Wouldn’t it be great if it had occurred to me to finish this post with a picture of a Rolling Rock beer?

Oh! If only I’d thought of it. But this particular shot is a Friday early-evening moment–some of us went out after work. I was sampling the new Leinenkugel Big Eddy. Not bad.

8. In the end, if you work with good people, it’s all worthwhile.

If you know anything at all about UW-Richland, you know who this is, and you know how hard he works, and how much UW-Richland’s success has depended on him over the years. You also know he’s retiring relatively soonish (so he says–we’ll see if it actually ever happens), so I thought I’d grab a shot of him at his desk.

I asked him to do something rude for the camera, but he wouldn’t. I guess I’ll have to try again another time.

9.Rolling Right Along
Keeping track of my work hours this semester, I’m averaging 40+, even having taken 1.5 sick days. I’m a little concerned about the number of hours I’ve logged working on Sundays–I actually think it’s important to TAKE A FREAKING DAY OFF ALREADY. So it’s a little ironic I’m posting a work-related blog on a Sunday. I promise I’ll stop thinking about work right quick, once this is up.

We’re in midterms now, and once I’ve posted midterm grades (taking this opportunity to remind myself they’re due 10/26 by noon), I’ll ask students to let me know (via anonymous internet surveys) how the semester is going. I’ll do a post after that, with updated numbers as well. And hopefully I’ll still be saying that things are rolling right along.

5 responses to “Fall Semester 2012: Rolling Right Along

  1. Reading posts like this make me homesick for my undergrad years! Some of the professors I had I took classes with for 4 or 5 semesters and I really do miss seeing and talking to them. Maybe one day I will be able go back at some point and work on my master’s degree.

  2. Great post! So…you have a student worker? Work study, or how does this work out?

    • yup, work study–faculty can request up to three hours a week. Actually I think it might be two hours a week by now. It’s hard sometimes for me to be organized enough to make sure my student worker has enough to do, but when I am organized enough BOOM–there’s a chunk of time I can spend on something else.

      • Wow, that’s pretty cool. It’s very different here. Only 2 or 3 academic departments get it, the bulk of it goes to the food service and/or bookstore, I think. We get about 6 hours a week for our whole department (2 faculty, 1 full time IAS), so that’s not bad (but it’s barely enough with all the lab glassware and stuff, ha!)

  3. love the pics of students and staff!

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