T: Amazing Husband ST: Three-year-old Wonder Prof. G: Advisor I Prof. C: Advisor II Julie: Stylish Sister Rob: Awesome Brother Belle: Our Cat Bill: Grumbling BIL Rita: Uncomplicated SIL SMU: Smallish Midwestern University Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
Drop Me A Line
academeblog AT gmail.com
Quote of the Day
Monday, September 11, 2006
I am battling time these days. It's not that I don't have enough of it (couldn't everyone use a few spare hours?), but rather that I'm not sure what I should be doing with it.
Last year I had a dissertation fellowship that required I do nothing but work on my dissertation for twelve full months. It was wonderful to be able to wake up in the morning and not worry about having to be somewhere at a certain time: the boundaries of my day were 8:30am (when I would walk ST a few blocks down the road to daycare) and 4:30pm (when I would pick him up again). The rest of the day was completely unstructured. This was good in that I had a lot of hours of time to really get involved in whatever I was writing. But of course it was bad, as I've chronicled here, because the day was so easy to fritter away doing things that really could have been done later (e.g., laundry, cleaning the kitchen, baking).
Starting this new job has been (and continues to be) quite an adjustment for me, then, since I have somewhere to be at a certain time every day of the week. I am up at 6:00am to shower and get ST ready for preschool, and after T and ST leave for the day I quickly get myself ready and am in my office, ready to work, by 8:00am. I teach MWF from roughly 9:00am-2:00pm, which an hour break around 11:00am. On TTh I come into the office anyway, knowing how susceptible to distraction I will be sitting alone in the vast project time-suck that is Pond House. I am usually home by 4:00pm most days after picking ST up from preschool, and once my family is fed and happy I retreat to my office to work. I usually work in my office from about 8:30pm until midnight, sometimes a little later.
My body clock is completely messed up as as result. It's not that I'm not getting enough sleep -- 5-6 hours a night has always been sufficient for me -- but rather that I'm simply not adjusting to having to BE somewhere at a particular time. I don't like it. And I certainly don't like rushing my family out the door every morning (unfortunately, ST is a nightowl like his mother and hates getting up early in the morning, which makes our morning ritual far from fun). But I suppose that is life and, in time, I'll get used to that, too.
This time-struggle is coupled with a few others: first, I am not at all used to the length of classes here and it's completely throwing off my lectures; and second, I feel a little lost when I'm in my office for more than a few hours. On the first issue: classes at Doctoral University were 50 minutes long. That meant that I usually scheduled 40 minutes of lectures or activities, and then left 10 minutes in the period for questions or administrivia. Classes here at SMU are 60 minutes long. That's not a huge difference, but I simply cannot seem to time my lectures correctly. The first week I was always 20 minutes off, leaving way too much time to fill at the end of the lecture. This was all right in the first week, since students didn't expect to stay for the whole period anyway, but now it's annoying me. Today I was only ten minutes off in my senior seminar class, and five minutes off in my two intro courses. I want to make the best use of my students' time and I'm just not confident that I'm doing that.
As to the second issue, when I'm sitting alone in my office I feel like there's something I "should" be doing. I'm not sure why, but I don't feel like I use my time well there, despite the fact that the place is set up for productive work. How do the rest of you manage your research/prep days? Tomorrow I think I'm going to make myself a schedule (e.g., "work on seminar class lecture" or "search for new dataset for Project XYZ") so that I can at least feel like I'm accomplishing something.
Yet another issue that is driving me crazy: the timing on the syllabus for my intro course. I don't know what I was thinking when I set up the first few weeks as I did, but I know that they will be axed immediately when I teach this course next semester. I reserved two full weeks to talk about theoretical and methodological issues in my subfield, and it is really, really dry stuff. These are undergraduates, most of them non-majors, and I feel like I'm boring them to death with these matters. It probably comes from being in a graduate student mindset but being faced with only undergrads. Another issue I have with my syllabus is the fact that I've already changed an assignment due date once and am thinking of changing it again (all for good reasons), and I'm worried the students will think I'm a flake. I am also seriously considering making some other significant changes to the exam format so that I can grade the exams in a reasonable amount of time. When I designed this syllabus this summer I was told I'd have approximately 50 students total in the two sections of the intro course and so I assigned a lot of writing -- two essays during the semester totaling 15 pages, two essay exams. The reality is, however, that I have 100 students in my intro course-- double what I was expecting. When added to the 35 students in my senior seminar, that makes for a whole lot of reading/grading. I'm seriously considering, for the intro course at least, of substituting multiple choice questions for half of each of the exams (and I hate multiple choice exams). Grr. Hopefully the students won't think I'm a quack.
It's been a long day of working this "real" job. For now, the best place for me is snuggled in my bed.