Category Archives: Teaching in College

Ahem

Well, it’s been a while.

I AM alive. So there’s that.

School is kicking my ass in a way I’ve never experienced before and I want to crawl into a hole and hide and hope some magical faeries will do my work for me.

It’s a problem.

Mostly I’m in such a state of panic that I don’t do anything because everything needed to be done last week. So prioritizing doesn’t happen because, again, everything needed to already be done.

Catch-22

Mostly I need to kick my own butt into gear and just get through this semester. If I can do that, next semester should be a little easier.

Also, Mr. A will be out of town all next semester for another amazing internship. LUCKILY, he won’t be as far away as he was last summer. He will be in my hometown and will be staying at my dad’s house. It will be a free place to stay, my dad is doing some really awesome stuff for Mr. A’s stay (such as turn one of the spare bedrooms into another living room so Mr. A will have a place to hang out).

BUT, because he will be gone, I will be back to blogging. I will finally have free time to do so and will need some more company.

I know people hate when people blog about not blogging, but I have met so many of you in person and have talked with so many of you on a regular basis that I thought I would check in. When I come back, I might start over, or just revamp this old thing. We shall see.

But no matter what, I’ll fill you all in. Also, you all rock, I hope your lives are super fantastic and amazing and I can’t wait to finally have time to catch up on it all!!

Now, what’s a thesis?

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Filed under Blogging, Grad School?, Teaching in College, Working Girl

Purgatory

These last two days have been just as I assume purgatory might be: boring, frustrating, pointless, but unable to leave.
The new GAs have had to be in training all last week and through Thursday this week. Thankfully us returners only have 3 days this week, but knowing I have to sit through one more day of pointless sessions, makes me want to scream and then run away.
Yesterday was just angering because they told us we are mandated to use four different kinds of software programs and their duties overlap and it’s pointless to have to keep attendance and grades in four different places.
Also, they couldn’t get their act together and have the same answer on anything and it was just ridiculous.
Today was just so incredibly boring. It was basically how to use a computer.
Would you have thought that if you can’t remember your password that you should click the “forgot password” button? You did? And you didn’t have to sit through a two hour training session? You must be smarter than a room of graduate students.
There were also the stupid and repetitive questions that made things just drag on even longer.
I’m fairly certain my eye roll skills tripled today.
Tomorrow will be the sexual harassment session, and after last year’s explosion, I may have to bring popcorn this time. Then again, I would imagine most people don’t want a repeat so they will probably keep their mouths shut. Bummer. Would be the only excitement of this three day torture marathon.
Tomorrow is also the meet and greet with faculty. I signed up and then realize it wasn’t mandatory and basically no one is going. Not excited but looks like it would look bad if I didn’t show. Meh.
So if anyone has any Good books to recommend, I would appreciate it because I have another 7 hours of awful tomorrow that I need something to keep me occupied.

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Filed under Grad School?, Teaching in College, WTF

Weeks Ahead

Hello again. The last week of the summer session was crazy busy on top of some added family stresses. I then left the very next day to go visit a good friend of mine in Wisconsin, so I’ve been gone.

Of course, the day I got back, I got emails sharing both our pre semester training schedule and my new teaching schedule.

As for the training, well, it’s……special.

It will be three days where an office mate and I will sit in the back, try to contain the rolling of our eyes and find other ways to stay awake. Plan is to brainstorm lesson plans and to print short stories so we look engaged.

Now, I am typically a rule follower. I take a million notes at trainings and am actively engaged.

But when I looked over the schedule for the three days, there is only ONE session that looks even remotely helpful. The rest are being run by either people that have no business training others or about subjects that will only help/affect about 5 of the 95 GAs. Add in that last year was a total cluster, and I’m just trying to do things to keep me from quitting in those three days. I love my job, but this training will be pure torture. And not helpful.

I even have to help lead a session, but there are 3 other people on the panel for a 45 minute presentation and none of the other three will get with me or talk about what the hell we’re supposed to be presenting. Doesn’t help that 2 of them are from a group of girls that can’t differentiate between business and personal and if I won’t have my head up their ass in the personal, then they will screw me over in any way possible in the business. OH, and one of them hasn’t even taught the class we’re presenting about. Her section got cancelled. Again: cluster.

My plan is to be quiet and if someone asks me a direct question, answer as best I can. I can tolerate anything for 45 minutes. Or so I hope.

As for my new teaching schedule…it’s good and bad.

Good, because I no longer am teaching sections at 2 and 3 on MWF. NO one wants to be teaching at 4pm on a Friday. Certainly not me. No wonder they had to cancel those sections. When I last checked there were only 5 and 6 students registered for them.

Bad, because now all of my classes both taking and teaching are on Tuesday/Thursday. On Thursdays, I go from 9:30am-7:30pm with only a 1.5 hour break. I’m guessing on Fridays I will be SUPER unproductive.

Also, teaching 101 instead of 102. I have mixed feelings about this. 101, strangely, allows more variety in writing assignments, but the theme for this year is TERRIBLE. 102 is basically all research and can get tedious VERY quickly, but there isn’t a set theme.

Overall, I think it’s a better thing. Yes, it will be rough to have 5 classes those days, but then I can work on my own stuff the other three days. It will be a change from what I’ve been doing, and for my last semester of classes, I think a change will be nice.

Training starts Monday and then school starts the following week. Not a whole lot of free time left, so I’m trying to enjoy what I have left. That is a little more difficult since our mattress which was supposed to be delivered by today, won’t be delivered until late next week. Sleeping on the floor isn’t nearly as fun when you don’t have any other choice.

BUT, positive thinking on my end. I have a week and a half to relax and try to enjoy the rest of my free time, which will involve lots of kitty snuggles and fun reading.

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Filed under A little More About Me, Grad School?, Teaching in College

Busy Bee

Apparently I should get one a blogging schedule BEFORE the semester starts, not in the middle of it.

So, Orlando was fun. I was sick for a lot of it due to my massive sinus issues prior to the flight, which then made it nearly impossible for my ears to pop like they should so I was just off and blech for most of it.

BUT, I did enjoy myself and learned a lot. It was great to see some presentations before I have to present my own in a week. (YIKES)

This semester has been kicking my booty. Between the insane amounts of work for my own classes and trying not to suck at teaching, I am feeling pretty overwhelmed. To the point that I don’t do anything because I don’t know where to start. It’s a vicious cycle.

However, I have ALL of my paper topics for the remaining 4 papers that I have to write this semester, so that’s a huge load off my shoulders. Sounds goofy, but now that I know what I’m writing about, I think about the topics, work out the arguments in my head and it makes it easier when I sit down and write the damn things. I have a weird writing process. Looks weird to others and probably wouldn’t work for anyone else, but it works for me and has been paying off, at least so far. (Fingers crossed it continues until I can work out a better, less spastic method)

Mr. A is hitting his own rough spot of the semester. Happens every semester, at least has so far. He’s getting a little better at dealing with it, but it is stressful. Unfortunately, unlike the previous three semesters, I’m not able to be the cheery ray of sunshine that I usually was in order to cheer him up. I’m so stressed and frazzled myself, that I haven’t been as helpful as usual. I know he understands, but I do feel bad.

School…is…well, school itself it good. Some social drama has been a bit distracting, but working on moving beyond it and not letting high school drama get in the way of what I need to do. Next week will be a little awkward, but nothing I can’t handle and going to make the best of it.

In other big exciting news, I got one of the few and competitive summer teaching positions. I’m not trying to brag- mostly I feel like God was watching over and knew what was best. SO much off of my shoulders to know I will have a paycheck.

Even better?? Mr. A and I will finally be in the same place for the first summer since we’ve been married. Our first two summers of marriage have been spent in different places and adjusting to new things on our own. It will be nice to both be working and taking a class, in the same city. Lots of trips to go canoeing on the lake and studying at the winery, because that’s what grad students do that don’t want to live in a library. It will be amazing.

Can you all believe that I will be done with my first year of grad school in a month?! Because I can’t.

I remember crying when I got my acceptance letter. I remember  when Mr. A got a raise at his summer job, on a Friday, and he told me I could turn in my two weeks notice at the awful retail store an entire month early. I remember spending hours picking out my outfit for the first day of training for teaching college students. I remember walking into my first grad class and being scared to death that I couldn’t do this. I also have the first grad paper that I got an A on with some of the most supportive commentary I’ve ever received.

And here I am, planning my thesis and graduation and realizing that in a year, we will be moving and finding/starting new jobs. I will have a Master’s hood. You will all have to call me Master NewTeacherWife. Maybe that will be my new blog name when I graduate…

So that’s us right now. Scout is doing great. Ornery as ever, but cute as can be and just so snuggly. Mr. A and I both agree that she has been a major stress reliever for us both. We love coming home to her meeting us at the door and, even though she plays rougher than I would like, she’s a ball of fun and we are absolutely in love with her. So, how doomed are we once we have kids??

I miss you all. BUT, I will have time off before summer school, so lots of catching up. Also, I am running my first 5k at the end of the month, so I will be sure to let you all know how it goes. Mr. A is coming to cheer me on and I will make him take pictures of me before I’m all gross and sweaty!

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Filed under A little More About Me, Blogging, Grad School?, Home Sweet Home, Kitteh, Married Life, Teaching in College, Working Girl

Time Out

I called it.

As soon as I tried to get back into blogging, life stepped in and halted it.

I mean, who needs a job? (Kidding. Obviously.)

School and teaching have come crashing in and I am having one heck of a time staying on top of everything.

Admission: I never even opened the novel for one of my classes. Terrible, yes, especially since I adore this professor and class, but I simply did not have time. His class has over 100 pages of theory a week, plus a novel a week, so I will just step it up for next week.

And teaching. TAKES. SO. MUCH. TIME.

I know this is an obvious statement to anyone who teaches or has experience with the education field, but add that on top of 3 graduate classes that require insane amount of reading and responses, and it’s completely overwhelming.

I still haven’t even touched papers that my students turned in a week ago. My goal is to get them back by next Friday, but the way things are going…who knows. Oh, and my students turn in another paper today. And another one next Friday. It never ends.

And no, I can’t do anything about spacing since the course is standardized. However, this is the first semester with this layout, and I am going to talk to the program director and say, “Hey. This is entirely too much to keep up with. Something needs to get cut or I’m just giving everyone a B and moving on.”

Doesn’t help that I am feeling a bit frozen in place since I haven’t started a single paper of my own. And I leave for Orlando in 3 weeks. And will be in Boston two weeks after that. And then there’s like 3 weeks left before finals.

I have 5 papers to write between now and then. 3 of which are 15 plus pages. 2 involve no fewer than 7-10 sources each.

Cue panic attack.

Just writing all that out makes my heart race. My goal this weekend is to get one of them written, or at least a draft or detailed outline done. Looks like the library and coffee shop will be my home. Too bad I can’t bring Scout…

So, I am dedicated to keeping this blog going, just bear with me. Some weeks I just simply don’t have time, even though I have a million things to tell all of you. And to catch up on all of your blogs! And please don’t think I’m not reading. I am. Just sometimes I’m reading between breaks or classes and don’t have time to comment.

So what’s going on with all of you? And what are some of your favorite stress relievers? Because I sure need them.

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Filed under A little More About Me, Blogging, Grad School?, Teaching in College

My Mean Face

Yeah…I don’t so much have one.

Yes, I can’t rant and rave to friends and family about anything. I can talk all big a bad, but I’m not typically mean.

This sometimes causes problems for me in teaching.

I am easily intimidated. Always have been. I care what people think about me. And not in a “I hope she likes my shoes!” way, but I don’t want people to get the wrong impression of me. I want to be friends. I know I won’t be friends with everyone, but if there is an issue, I like for it to be a real one, and not imagined.

Unfortunately, I’ve been a little too nice so far this semester. If a student said they couldn’t print, I would let them e-mail it to me. If they had an unexcused absence, I would still accept their homework.

I was being nice.

However, this lead to me being responsible to print the assignments so I could comment then pass them back. Students were turning in assignments 3 and 4 days late, but because I had been accepting late homework, I would lose track as to when the original due date was. It was causing me some clerical nightmares.

So today, I had to put on my mean face. Or at least “I’m Serious” face. I made it clear that I wasn’t picking on anyone or mad at anyone, but that I couldn’t continue to do these things.

They seemed to understand and we moved on.

Except today I passed back their first units.

I explained that I won’t answer any questions for 24 hours about papers, for obvious reasons. They get all riled up if they don’t like a grade and they need the 24 hours to cool off and maybe realize that they didn’t do the work. Now, I might have made a mistake. I’m not above that- but at least after 24 hours, they will be calmer when they approach me about it. Then I will fix it and we will go from there.

It worked out wonderfully last semester, so I expected the same.

I guess a lot of their instructors for 101 didn’t do this, and they were not too thrilled and tried to make me answer questions. Also, I got this idea from our program director, so I know they won’t be able to complain about me when it comes to this.

But even better, about half of my first class stood outside the emergency exit door, didn’t realize that it was the exit door for our classroom, and started saying all sorts of things about me, without realizing that I could hear every word and knew who was talking.

Now, I am trying to remind myself that they were just mad about their grade, and it’s easy to rant in a group. I get that. I know I’ve done it.

But after everything that happened with my student from last semester, it’s a little difficult to not get really angry, really quickly.

Add to it that some of the stuff they were saying was just wrong. No other way to put it. They were 100% factually wrong.

I will not let this make me a jaded teacher. But you can bet my niceness is going to be much more limited in the future.

I need to work on the mean face I guess… Being nice sucks.

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Filed under A little More About Me, Confessions, Grad School?, Teaching in College

Back to Regularly Scheduled Programming

I went on a bit of a blogging sabbatical. Too bad I left with a strike post. Lame.

But, even though second semester has me reading 400-1200 pages a week, I have a better managed schedule and hope to make blogging a part of my life again.

And I missed all of you wonderful and lovely people.

And the kitten has taken over the apartment and Mr. A and I are now on her schedule. 7 pounds and wholly in charge.

Quick Update:

- I’m teaching 102 this semester and my students are a million times more awesome than I ever would have imagined.

- If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I had a very problematic student issue over break. I hope to expand more, but until it’s resolved, I can’t. Silly rules.

- I’m loving grad school and all of my classes.

- I get to present at a conference in Boston and I’m so pumped!! Also, trying to go to a different conference to make some connections that have to do with my thesis. Meeting famous authors would be awesome too.

- Mr. A is doing great. He’s hitting his groove in law school, and while he’s totally ready to be done, it’s doable.

- Did I mention that I missed you all?

Hoping to blog more regularly and catch up with everyone. Maybe even some giveaways. Gives me a reason to go to Target.

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Filed under Blogging, Life in Law School (even if I'm not in it), Teaching in College

Strik Update

I wanted to give you all a quick update on what’s going on.

The TA uni@n, along with 2 others set tentative agreements at 4 am this morning. Which means the union that represents me, would not be on strik.

However, the tenure f@culty uni@n did not settle. These people are fighting for tenure, and while I don’t always agree with tenure, in this position, I do.

Our faculty are irreplaceable and THEY are what makes or breaks a university.

So this afternoon, a few of my friends and I stood on the picket lines, alongside our professors and showed our support and let them know that most of the people in the university are behind them.

I’m not completely out of the woods since the agreement is tentative, but hopefully it all gets resolved soon.

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Filed under Grad School?, Life After College, Teaching in College

Game Plan

So you remember when I wrote this post? (The same misspelling rules will apply for this post. Sorry in advance.)

Yeah. It’s happening.

Tomorrow.

I just want to scream.

It’s never-ending. People are angry on both sides. The e-mails keep coming. Overt threats from superiors keep happening. It’s a nightmare.

Of course, I’m on the side of the quieter group. We’re not going on strik. But we don’t personally dislike anyone that is. It’s fine. Whatever. I will still be more than happy to work with you and talk with you and I will still say hello to you in the halls. Basically, nothing changes about the person in my mind.

HOWEVER, the other side seems to have no such consideration. AT ALL.

We keep getting e-mails basically saying that if we aren’t on strik, then they want nothing to do with us.

It has gone so far as to threaten our grades, degrees, and jobs. Yes. I actually got an e-mail saying this. Shit is exploding all over the place here.

Luckily, I’ve had a couple conversations with f@culty and 98% understand that as TAs, we’re in a weird position and will in no way evaluate us differently or affect our grades based on what we do when tomorrow comes.

But really??!?

For one, it’s illegal. Illegal on so many levels.

Also, they refuse to see our side.

Our side that needs our paycheck. That can’t afford to get our pay docked. The fact that I signed a contract and I agreed to work. I KNEW WHAT I WAS GETTING. Why are you complaining AFTER your signed the contract? You can read. You knew. This just baffles me to no end.

Also, WE ARE TEMPORARY an PART-TIME. We, in no way, deserve the same benefits that full-time f@culty receive. We’re transient. And no, the school should NOT be paying for he@lthc@re for our familes. WE ARE PART TIME.

Basically, I do not agree with what the TA uni@n wants. I don’t.

And I will reiterate- I am not anti-uni@n. I FULLY support the f@culty and their complaints and they should strik since the administration seems to ignore them.

But as a TA, I have a job to do. And I’m not going to strik for things that I am opposed to.

And f@ir sh@re?!

The uni@n goes on and on about how much fees are and how unfair the administration is, but then they take stipend increases off the table and ADD f@ir sh@re to our fees?! They are just hurting the people they “represent”.

And if I get told that I’m only complaining now since the strik is tomorrow, they are wrong. I, and others, have sent numerous e-mails and attended meetings to tell the uni@n how we feel and we are shot down, belittled, told we are wrong and dumb and have no morals.

Oh yeah. The administration has offered pretty good deals. The uni@n has never once brought it to the members to vote on. They aren’t looking out for anyone. They are just as money grubbing as the rest, only the administration isn’t telling me that I have no right to talk and that if I even have a question about something that I am “espousing anti-uni@n rhetoric”.

Sure has been all sunshine and rainbows around these parts I tell ya.

So that’s where we are.

My husband will be walking me and my friends to class on Friday. We’re a little nervous because of the combative and hostile environment that has been created. We don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m sure I’ll be called all sorts of things. Too bad they don’t have a dictionary, because I am NOT a sc@b. I am not covering anyone else’s classes. I am just doing my job and what I believe in.

So we shall see.

I’m fairly anxious and edgy. I can handle being screamed at when I’m doing what I know is right for me. My professors know that I support them. My friends know my heart and know why I’m doing what I’m doing. I can only hope this ends well. And without Mr. A punching someone. He gets a little defensive.

I’ll keep ya posted. Too bad all my anonymity is about to be thrown out the window… Le sigh.

 

**Again, apologies for the spelling goofiness. Trying not to end up on the uni@ns radar. They already keep calling and showing up in my office to harrass me. I would like for my blog to be left alone.

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Filed under A little More About Me, Freak Out Much?, Grad School?, Learning More, Life After College, Teaching in College, WTF

Hiding in the Corner

Sometimes I hate political things. Hate them.

And I really try not to discuss them much on the blog. They are too polarizing and people are emotionally attached to their ideals and people get mad and defensive.

But I’m currently smack dab in the middle of a situation and it’s all I can think about.

It’s distracting me from work. I can’t focus. I avoid conversations with certain people in fear that they will bring it up. I’m tired of being judged for just doing what I’m here to do. I’m tired of feeling pressured. I’m tired of not being able to get unbiased facts from either side. I’ve spent nights in tears talking to Mr. A about this. My close friends and I have spent countless hours discussing every freaking aspect, and for the most part agreeing, but there are areas of contention.

All of the uni@ns at my school have authorized a striek. (I’m spelling things this way in hopes that a Google search doesn’t bring this up. I will also refer to the graduate assistants as TAs to also not bring up my school’s uni@n stuff.)

Now, I am not necessarily pro or anti uni@n. I live in a state where you can be in one or you don’t have to be. This whole thing never came into my little world until recently since both of my parents work in jobs where they don’t even come up. I don’t even have a clue where my parents stand on uni@ns since it simply didn’t come into the realm of my life. Mr. A feels one way, but I am more in the middle. Do as you wish. Whatever. Is this a good stance? Don’t know, but it’s how I feel. I have other soap boxes to stand on.

So here I am, finally in grad school and getting to teach and learn from amazing professors, and I’m getting thrown into a uni@n battle.

The TAs have one, as do 3 other groups. They are arguing about contracts and benefits, as most of these arguments are about. I agree that the fakulty have some very good and valid reasons for being mad. I agree with their arguments. But guess what? I’m not fakulty. I don’t deserve the same benefits as them. I do not really agree with the TA argument. A couple issues I agree with, but not even the majority of their complaints.

Also? I read, understood, agreed, and SIGNED a contract. I knew ahead of time what I was getting and what I wasn’t. I’m pretty freaking happy with what I’m given. They pay for school and I get a pretty decent paycheck. Am I rolling in the dough? Not at all, but I’m also not starving. We’re fine.

But if people are mad and want to bargain, fine by me. Do as you wish.

But now they have voted to authorize a striek. They haven’t called one yet, but the uni@ns have voted that they will.

And it’s causing all kinds of uproar. People are passionate one way or the other, for the most part.

I went to the info meeting last week, and well, if nothing else, they persuaded me NOT to join. They were incredibly combative and confrontational and aggressive, and just overall rude. This is not me being anti uni@n. This is me being anti THIS uni@n. Again, the fakulty have some real complaints that needs to be addressed and I fully support them. But that’s not me.

Also, I can’t afford to not get paid. And I don’t want to pay the dues each month because while we aren’t starving, I would like to use that $20/month to go out to eat with my husband or get a manicure or buy a new shirt. That may seem dumb to some, but it’s how I feel. If I felt that I was being mistreated and abused, then yes, I would put the money towards the uni@n. But I don’t, so I’m not.

So now I’m in this weird place. Many of my colleagues are planning on strieking. I’m not. Will I cover their classes? Nope. Not in my contract and I’m not, contractually, allowed to work more than I currently am. I won’t become a replacement. But I WILL continue to do the job i was hired to do and I will enjoy every minute of it. I like teaching. It’s why I’m here.

Do I want to cross the line? Not really. But since I’m not in the uni@n, I don’t have a choice since they CAN fire me for not showing up to work. My friend and I are going to dress down in sweats and baseball hats in hopes that we look like students and walk together to our classrooms. We don’t want to seem unsympathetic, but we also need to get a paycheck and want to teach our classes. I’m hoping to find some back door to sneak into or getting there crazy early in the morning to avoid getting screamed at, but who knows. They haven’t called for one yet, but from the e-mails I keep getting on both sides, neither side looks willing to back down. I’m concerned that it could get violent simply from the rhetoric that has been used, but until then, I’m planning on carrying on with business as usual as much as possible.

Maybe this is an unpopular stance. I don’t know. But this is what I feel deep inside that I am supposed to do.

This isn’t some flippant view or position I have taken. I have tried to gather as much information as possible. I’ve tried to talk to people and get all sides, but nothing is simply factual. Everyone has an agenda. So I had to look within myself. This is the decision I have come to.

I hope and pray on a daily basis that they come to some sort of agreement before it comes to a striek, but I’m not all that optimistic about that.

They can call one as early as Thursday. And who knows how long it could last. The head of the school seems pretty determined not to back down and, from everything I’ve read, they will not be pushed into a decision.

And neither will I. I cannot allow bullies on either side to push me. It may seem like I’m taking a side, but only because I want to keep my job. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t join the uni@n but stay home if they do call for one. But I’m not allowed that option, so this is what I have to do for my family, however small it may be.

So I guess I’m asking for all of you to pray, hope, send good thoughts that it doesn’t come to a striek. It will get nasty if it does, and we all know I’m fairly emotional. I will do what I need to, but doesn’t mean that I won’t be an emotional wreck while doing it.

And everyone thought this blog would only be about silly students and my precious cat. Boy were you wrong.

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Filed under Grad School?, Life After College, Teaching in College, WTF