Wednesday, October 31, 2007

cause i'm special, so special, i gotta have some of your attention

So, in the academic world we do something called classroom observations. Adjuncts are observed, and full-time non-tenured faculty. Although I'm brand new, all FT faculty must observe at least one adjunct, so I was called on to observe a well-respected adjunct (my own observation by another prof is the 12th, and I'm nervous as hell). Last Thursday I stayed late to watch her teach (she teaches from 7:30-8:45 pm, which made for a late night).

Anyway, I'm tucked in a corner observing how she teaches and interacts with the students, how they respond to her. And as I'm watching her, I realize...that's how I teach. Seriously. The way I speak, my mannerisms, the casual interactions with the students. And this thought comes into my head. If I teach like someone who is considered well-respected, then I must be doing something right.


So then I start Friday in a really good mood, going into the first of a series of faculty development workshops that are designed to help us create assignments that are both great learning opportunities for the students and practice for the college exit exam (yes, there is a college-wide exit exam that involves reading, critical thinking, writing, summarizing, analyzing).

I love love loved this workshop! I already have ideas on how to make the coursework more appropriate for the students. I can't wait to make some of those changes for next semester. It was a really great learning experience for me (funny how that works, isn't it).

In the course of this workshop, I also discovered that the majority of the assignments in my courses are considered by these 'faculty of faculty' to be very good assignments. I received some quiet, but gratifyingly positive feedback. For a newbie prof, it really did good things for my self-confidence.

Of course, what goes up must come down, and in this case it was my pride. I began to feel quite ill this afternoon and had a class at 5:30. I was not fully prepared, and it showed. I wound up ending class at the halfway point because it just didn't make sense to continue when I was feeling so poorly. I'll make it up to them on Monday, though.

I definitely understand now why faculty disappear into the woodwork between semesters and over the summer. It's those times away that make it possible for us to keep up the 12 hour days for 15 weeks straight!

But hey, I'm still lovin' it. I really am.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

education truly is wasted on the rich

Emotions have been a roller coaster since last thursday. That would be when students in two of my courses (same course, two sections) turned in journals they have been keeping since the first week of class.

The first journal entry was a 'getting to know you' piece, where they were asked to share what they feel comfortable sharing about themselves personally. The remaining 6 journal entries corresponded to self-assessment exercises in the textbook, including issues of cultural competence.

My students are fucking amazing. They blow me away, they make me proud, they humble me, they...make me feel honored to be in a position to teach them. Their journals were incredible. They shared with me their past, their present, and their dreams for the future. Many of these students have, or had, challenges in their lives that far surpass any challenge in my own. I stand in awe of them, admire them for persevering and struggling to get an education despite their circumstances.

Whether it's the young moms: one whose child has Tay-Sachs disease, the other's child autism, yet another's severe asthma. Or the mom who missed an exam because of an infection from dental surgery, and then missed the makeup exam because her child was admitted to the hospital that morning. You could see the deep exhaustion etched around her mouth and eyes, yet she had brought in copies of documents to excuse her absences because, in her words, she loves school, wants to be here, and doesn't want her professors to think otherwise

Or the veteran who was exposed to agent orange and has cancer, had a rough spell and missed a due date for an assignment and wasn't prepared for the exam but took it anyway (and did quite well). Or the young man who is late for class every day because he and his brother are trying to take care of a father who recently lost his job and isn't doing well, and he can't leave his father alone so must wait till his brother gets home from work in the morning before he can leave for school.

Or the young man who trusted me enough to share something very personal, only to find -- or he will find -- that his trust was violated. He is a sweet, extremely intelligent (the kid could write circles around me) young man who has never acted in a questionable manner in class. And he never did anything to deserve, at such a young age, a mental health diagnosis that will keep him on meds for the rest of his life, leave him misunderstood and stereotyped, and make people afraid of him. He shared information that unfortunately falls under the 'red flag' of potential danger to himself or others, and I had to betray his trust and share his writing with the counseling center yesterday. I can only hope that one day he'll see why I did it and forgive me.

And yes, I know I did the right thing, and I did it in the right way. I went to the equivalent of my 'supervisor' first for guidance, then spoke with a counselor, and the counselor will take it from there. And I did it because I have a duty to protect all my students and other college personnel, as well as the student in question.

But doing the right thing isn't always easy or clear. And it doesn't always make you feel good about what you did.

I had three bowls of cocoa krispies for dinner last night, and it still didn't make me feel any better.

Monday, October 15, 2007

you gotta fast car...i wanna ticket to anywhere

did I ever mention
that every girlfriend I've ever had
has been lost to a guy
since I was oh, 16 or so
funny, isn't it

we'd meet when we're single
and doin' our party thing
have a good year or so
chumming around
and then she'd meet someone
and slowly
but ever so surely
i am relegated to those
she'd no longer have time for
i'd be the single friend
who didn't fit with the plan

i never found someone of my own
so i could never return the favour
of dumping them
before they dumped me

don't freak
this has nothing to do
with anything
going on in my life right now
i was just thinking
on the train
how the guys never wanted me
but they always took my girlfriends away

and yeah, i know
that's the way it's supposed to be
but hey
still waiting for my turn here

and I had a chocolate ice cream sundae for dinner tonight

(title lyrics tracy chapman; photo mine)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

but i had to buy 'em, i had to...really, i had to

Anyone who's been reading this blog for awhile knows that I loooove payless shoes. Or more specifically, BOGO at payless. I've got myself a nice little collection of quite lovely heels.

Thing is, I was buying all those heels when my job was a desk job. As in, sit behind a desk and rest those tootsies for eight hours straight. The only walking I did in them was between the office and the parking garage. Or across the street to pick up some lunch.

I hadn't anticipated what a difference it would make to be standing in front of classes for four or five hours a day. Not to mention half running down city blocks from one building to the next for back-to-back classes.

Damn, those heels are wicked bad on my feet! So I decided I had to do what was best for my feet. Flats. Flats that don't leave the ball of my feet nearly numb from pain. Not to mention the cracking. In my toes and the balls of the feet. Actual cracking, I kid you not.

This of course! Yup, shopping for new shoes. And yes, it's payless BOGO!

So yesterday, the rugrat took the train into the city to meet me on campus and see my office after work and check out that senor swanky's restaurant.

Before dinner, we stopped by payless. And I found two pairs of flats (can't find a photo of one), a kitten heel, and a pair of one inch heels that shouldn't kill me.

I know, not as purty as my heels. But vastly more wearable. And I'm not giving up the heels, I'll hang onto them in the hopes of wearing them for special occasions. Hah. Yeah, like I have a whole lot of those these days.

And yeah, I did have to give up a few pair to make room for the new ones. But I picked really old sandals that I'm very unlikely to wear ever again. Hee hee.

Oh, and that senor swanky's...the one that calls itself a mexican cafe and celebrity's on bleeker street and west broadway, a block south of washington square park. Whenever I see bleeker street, I think of the joni mitchell a bleeker street cafe, I found someone to love today.

Anyway, the place was dead as a doornail at 8 pm on a friday night, and the food could only be called mediocre at best. There was a lot of it, but it wasn't anything to write home about. Disappointing, in fact. But then I'm sure that people go there for the bar, not the food.

(swanky's photo...the rest here)

Monday, October 08, 2007

put on your red shoes and dance the blues


It describes everything...

and yet

nothing in particular.

The perfect word.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

when the walls come tumbling down

...begin pathetic, self-centered, overindulgent, get-over-it-already whine

When the plagiarist (who is still at it occasionally, by the way) gets to meet this cool blogger before I do, it's clear that we're living in a truly fucked up world.

...end pathetic, self-centered, overindulgent, get-over-it-already whine

We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

flawless freak

So the doc visit last saturday had its good and bad. Six months of anticoagulant instead of three. New blood pressure med (first time on this) despite losing weight and dietary changes. But, six pounds down from three weeks before (and another down this week as well), blood sugar down to 102. I know, the new guidelines say keep it under 100, but considering its been as high as 170 a few years ago, and was 123 three weeks ago, I'll take the 102. Completely diet and exercise controlled, people -- no blood sugar meds at all.

Met with the department chair yesterday; he told me exactly what I need to do for a renewed contract for next year. Seems I'm already on my way, having attended two professional development workshops so far this semester, and applying this week for a faculty development workshop that will pay me $1000 to attend some training meetings this fall and make some changes in the assignments for my policy class next spring. He stressed finishing the diss, or I won't get the reassignment. Ouch.

We do have to do a lot of the same things at our CC that faculty in four-year colleges do, like conference presentations, research, publishing -- all while handling four or five courses per semester. Whoever tells you that CC profs only teach, or that somehow teaching at a CC is 'lower scale academically,' doesn't have a freakin' clue.

My schedule next semester will be exactly the same, with the same courses. I'm happy about that, as the prep won't be so tough next semester. I'm making changes in how I teach pretty much as we speak, trying to be the best I can be and motivate my students to want to really learn, rather than going through the motions for the grade. They've been pretty receptive so far. I'm still digging on the students in general despite the few that you find in every class.

Resident evil was a huge disappointment. Not what I expected at all. Two different story lines, and they didn't come together as well as they might have. Still though, Milla Jovovich in a long black 'herders' coat, whipping machetes out of her waistband and twirling them around her fingers is worth it. And I'm not even into women.

This movie, on the other hand, was not at all disappointing. I hadn't planned to go see it, wasn't the least bit interested, but I was with rugrat and her bf and they were seeing it, and I didn't have the heart to say I wasn't interested. Glad I went for it. I haven't heard the reviews for either movie, so this is my opinion based on my own viewing.

Speaking of movies, I'm showing Nell in my Social Skills Development course. We've covered things like cultural issues, language barriers, stereotypes, assumptions, self-determination, engaging the client, and intervention, and this film is full of examples of all of this. I have two sections of this class, and both seem to have enjoyed the film and understood the connection to our studies.

I'm picking up a rental car tomorrow am and driving north to meet some fellow bloggers. Sometimes it doesn't suck to be me, as deepblue would say.

The rest of the three day weekend will include prep for classes next week (typically done on friday, but hey), some minor MFD work to sooth my committee, and the annual state inspection for the car (downstate NY has some major requirements).

I wish I had time to write some the more introspective posts like I used to do, instead of what seems to be a laundry list of 'what I did last week.'

Flawless and Freak: both on George Micheal's Patience cd. Great for walking in the city.