Saturday, January 30, 2010


I have described before here and here how hard it feels to have the Hub away for 4 days a week and managing the toddler by myself. There's also an element of loneliness to it, too. My level of pining for the hub increases exponentially from Monday morning, when he leaves to Thursday night when he returns.

With the pregnancy fatigue, the exponential that describes this pining has increased. It feels like on Thursday nights at dinnertime I am desperate for the help and intelligent companionship of my husband. It feels like a physical ache that subsumes my whole body, but especially my heart.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Please, little community college.

I don't usually diss on community colleges. But because of the economy, our local CC has suddenly become selective. But not in a really intentional way. I think they are starting to jerk students around a little to see who will persist.

An ex-student of mine is trying to get into Local CC, she says she can't afford us. See how they are messing with her...

>> Dr. PUIProf,
>> There has been some confusion on LCC's part. They are not wanting to
>> transfer the Blah I class from SRU. My adviser and I are doing all that
>> we can. LCC administration has requested a copy of the syllabus. I no
>> longer have mine from fall semester. Would you mind emailing me with
>> the syllabus attached as soon as you get a chance? Sorry for the
>> inconvenience.
>> Have a great day!

I sent a word doc to her.

I sent that to LCC and they said this version has the instructor's edited notes on the word document. They asked me to ask you if you can send a version that does not have those edited portion on it. Thank you so much!!

> Please tell them to simply go under View and click off Markup. That IS the
> We use exactly the same text as they do and in addition we have a lab. I
> would be very surprised if your credits didn't transfer.

Dr. PUI Prof,
I will tell them. I told them that we did use the same book and that I
felt very prepared for Blah 2 after coming through your class.
Unfortunately, my transcripts reflects that SRU assigns 3 credit hours for
the lecture and lab, while LCC gives 4 credit hours. They are trying to
resolve this issue. It has very difficult and I appreciate your help in
sending this information. Sorry to take your time.
I hope your semester goes well!

1. I told you I was a rigorous instructor. :)
2. I think this school is looking for either an excuse to deny her, or they want to milk her for more credit hours.
3. I'm pretty sure that they learn as much or more in my 3 SH as they do there in 4.
4. You know, sometimes you get what you pay for...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Undergrad Labor aka I would die without Work-Studys.

We have no professional staff looking after the multitude of critters we keep in the science building. We have no TAs to grade our papers. We have no grad students to set up and run our labs. We have one secretary among 6 departments. We rely almost completely on undergrad labor. Moreover, everyone working for us must be under the federal financial aid program Work-Study. The government pays their wages, so we don't have to.

Really grateful for the program. But undergrad labor presents a few problems: 1. When school is out, someone else has to feed our critters. We do have a retiree who is a do-everything guy, and he will often do it. But he travels, too. So sometimes its me in there on Christmas day feedin' the critters. 2. What gets done is determined by the number of work-study students which apply (among all the work-study jobs on campus) for critter feedin' and cleanin'. Wouldn't you rather sit in the library and study and occasionally check out a book for your federal minimum wage, as opposed to cleaning smelly cages? 3. The quality and consistency of the work is highly variable among students and therefore from semester to semester. 4. Some work-studys can't help you with grading because they are in your class! 5. Depending on how advanced they are, there are lab set ups that they haven't learned enough to help you with.

But I have been very pleased with the students the last few semesters. They are a competent and consistent bunch lately. Today was a great example where something had to be done immediately and I was in class. I could delegate with confidence that it would be done. And it got done. Thanks so much to our do-it-all retiree and to his charges, the science center work- study students. Hoorah!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gettin soft on academic integrity

OK, I met with the latest AI violator. Stu had no idea why I had an appt with them. I showed the evidence, said that I couldn't let Stu off the hook because that wouldn't be fair to the other ones I had sent upstairs. Stu turned many different shades in our 10 minute meeting. First Stu was pale, then red, at the end blotchy. Stu explained that they had sent me the wrong version, that they copied off the web as a reference, and went to rewriting in their own words, but keeping the reference in front of them (in the document). I said that was a very bad strategy. Stu said that they had given me an earlier version and that still had the refernces in the document, but that they still had the final version (reportedly completely in Stu's own words) on Stu's computer.

I said fine, if you e-mail me the newest document within 10 minutes of your arrival home ( I knew how long that was), I will reconsider sending it to the Dean, but that Stu would still get zeros on the assignment. Stu did. I have to look to see 1. if its different enough, and 2. When the saved stamp was. Let's see if I just scared the piss out of someone who will never use that "strategy" of writing papers again or if I was a sucker. I'm leaning towards believing Stu, since the splotchy face gave indication of their fear. Maybe the splotchy thing works on every prof. :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Church / work borders at a religious institution

I go to a church with EXCELLENT music. REALLY, REALLY GOOD music. The organ, the choir, the congregation, the special small groups. No really, you have to understand... but I could "out" myself with more details.

I sing in the choir, and have been singing in volunteer church choirs for about 8 years now. I'm a fine musician, but not great. I'd give myself a solid B. Nonetheless, I've never been asked to participate in any music that was hand picked by the music director (primarily the special small groups). Our church has the ability to select from quite a range of very good musicians, and so the B-level musicians never get a thought. In fact, no one can figure out how the musicians for the small groups are chosen, but they are often they same ones over and over. They are good musicians, but the music they do is not THAT challenging. Us B-ers would do just fine up there.

There was a sign up sheet passed around for general congregants who would like to participate in special music, but as far as anyone can tell, no one who signed up has ever been asked. I have bitched about the "exclusiveness" and "non-transparency" of the church music groups to my friends.

My work colleagues often gather for lunch weekdays. The conversation at lunch on Friday drifted to my favorite sore spot. This is not unusual to discuss church things at work, because almost all of my colleagues go to _A_ church, many go to a church in the _same denomination_ as the school (as I), and a good chunk of my colleagues go to _MY_ church. The music was apparently a hot topic, with a lot of whining involved (mine and others). The secretary, in her kind but "cut-the-crap" way said, "... and just what are you going to do about it?" Well, she pinned me down until I agreed to talk to the music director directly instead of whining and doing nothing about it.

So I did today. I said, "please consider me for a small group." I said "please consider others for small groups other than the usual small cadre of favorites." I said, "please check the volunteer sign-ups and call those people. There are a lot of people who may be thinking, I volunteered, but they didn't call me, so they must not think I'm good enough. I mean if you have a deep bench why play your starters for the whole game? Besides, a church is NOT THE PLACE FOR EXCLUSION, no matter what."

I felt liberated saying that. Why should you care? One point of that story was that I hate victim-y attitudes, and find it in myself occasionally. I was very happy to have the push to get out of that attitude in this case. Thanks, secretary.

But what may be more of interest to you is the idea that I go to church with many of my colleagues. This is totally weird, in my world view where professional and private are separate lives. Moreover, I go to the church that is favored by people in the administration, so The Pres and the Provost sing together with me on Sundays. It took some adjustment, but its totally normal now. I certainly didn't choose my church for political reasons.

I have heard stories how its hard to fire the guy you read the Bible with (!), but sometimes it must be done. The university is constantly struggling with the line between being a community of believers in which everyone is valued, and having standards and doing what it takes to keep the standards high. I have always been educated at secular institutions, so the whole idea is foreign to me, but let me reiterate: I am so happy that my colleagues and the institution have an overall culture of respect and truthful kindness. They are healthy, happy people who care about justice in the world. So I'll take the weirdness that goes along with working at a religious institution for the benefits.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Academic Integrity, uh-gin

Yet another academic integrity violation, but in this case, the student has agreed to meet with me. Stu turned in two extra credit assignments that were lifted off Stu's web sources (that Stu DID cite). Now this is extra credit, so it costs Stu NOTHING if I give them a zero on the assignment. Our academic integrity policy says that for the first violation we are to meet with them for some "restorative" stuff. And if they get caught by me again, THEN I send it to the dean's office. I am irritated by this because 1. most students who cheat are trying to get away with as much as possible and stop once they reach a boundary (get caught). They have probably cheated several times before this and slipped under the radar. and 2. This means they can cheat until they get caught by every single professor once and one professor twice before they get a report at the Dean's office. You get to change professors every semester, so you get a fresh start every 4 months.

In this particular case, Stu may be getting caught for the very first time, and I can serve in some "restorative" function. But I have no misunderstanding that I am going to set the ethical guidelines straight for Stu and they will ever be on the narrow, righteous path hence. Please. If you cut and paste, and then go back and change a few words, then you knew what you were doing was wrong (and you aren't smart enough to do it more extensively!!!).

Since this was two papers, I will treat this as a double offense, and send it upstairs. Then I will prevent Stu from having to decide whether to cheat again in my class AND all the other Prof's classes too. Sorry, Stu. I will speak to you respectfully and firmly and then have you sign the paper that goes to the Dean.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Insanely early

I am awake at a very unreasonable hour. That's because the pregnancy fatigue put me to sleep at an insanely early hour yesterday. I am pretty much finished at around 4 pm, so I just slog through the evening work: now limited to physical stuff like putting food out for Boy and myself, changing Boy, reading to him, etc. But prepping for lectures after Boy goes to sleep? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I serve on the IACUC of our neighboring institution, Huge Teaching U. I don't think I am what the government has in mind when they ask for a "member of the community": a PhD holding animal researcher that has professional ties with the applicants.

In any case, they have a monthly deadline for new applications, there's a secure website where we can read the protocols and make comments, etc. This is the second meeting since I've been on the committee, and the second meeting they have scheduled in direct conflict with one of my courses. I dutifully read the protocols, gave them thought, and replied with a detailed, hopefully reasonable response. Then I e-mailed them in, and the committee met with my papers in hand.

This makes me really insecure. For one, I have no idea what level of rigor I am expected to meet. I know that I can't rubber stamp everything that comes through, nor can I reject everything on technicalities. But how tough of a review is it supposed to be?

Here's an example: one protocol called for doing a fairly invasive survival surgery on rats, using the rats for the experiment 24 hours later, then euthanizing them immediately at the conclusion of the experiment.
Some of my comments were
Minor: please include citations when you claim that these procedures are standard in the literature
Major: please include how post-operative pain will be controlled for the 27-29 hours post-surgery. I checked "not accept without revisions". I feel like I needed to know about the post-operative pain. Nitpicky? Harsh? Reasonable? Thorough?

In addition, without being present at the meeting, I have no idea if the committee even understood what I meant.

My fears were realized after I called the person in charge after they had met and asked about the discussion. She reported that the committee blew my comment off (my words) because the rats would be euthanized immediately after the experiment. "Right" I said, "but the animals will live for 27-29 hours after surgery before they are euthanized". "Oh," she said, "I don't think they got that". Me (internally): Hello?? The protocol was not vague.

Here's the kicker: the one I rejected? My mentor's.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hatian Student redux

I heard from our Haitian student today that he finally heard from his family. They lost everything, but everyone is alive. Whew.

Dang. Lost a research student.

I had three research students last semester. I've blogged on them before. One finished their time with me, which left two. Then one of them, the one with a pleasant personality and decent in the lab, begged off this semester because they are a varsity athlete in a spring sport, and they feel like they've got way too much on the plate. I know from a trial by fire, that a student who is overwhelmed sucks in the lab. The chances of my lab topping the priority list are quite low. I said he could skip this semester, but that he should apply to the REU for the summer.

The student left is good in the lab, but not as good as they thinks they are...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Teaching load for Pet Class

I found out today that someone from another department will take Pet Class next fall (when I am expected to deliver). I will then teach upper level Interesting Course (which is related to Pet Course) which requires a little more prep. On one hand, I have 60 students in Pet course, but will only have about 8 in Interesting Course. That makes grading so much easier. But I will still miss Pet Course. I LOVE teaching that course, primarily because of the type of students taking it
* pout*.

House dilemma solved

We're a little underwater. We bought at the peak of the market 3 years ago. I thought our house would have retained its value, but its competition is fierce.

We went to look at houses today just for kicks. I suppose if we find someone who is desperate to sell, there may be a home out there worth losing a little money on this house for... but I told our Realtor that we were "unmotivated".

Our Realtor says he knows this mortgage broker guy in Florida who can "work miracles".

um, no thanks.

The Homeless in Small City that Tries

Oh, there are so many reasons why I don't like this town. 1. There are very few sidewalks. 2. There are very few bike lanes 3. The city keeps moving anchor services, such as the post office and hospital to the very edges of the city. Opposite edges of the city... but alas, that is NOT what this post is about.

This morning, our Sunday school class from our church agreed to host breakfast for a rotating homeless shelter. This particular shelter rotates among the churches that are equipped to handle it through the coldest months. There are other shelters in the city such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. But they have rules that not all homeless people can abide by, for instance the guests must be sober to stay overnight. So this rotating shelter takes the people that can't make it into the other ones.

I have helped peripherally with the shelter, but never served breakfast and ate with the guests. I expected the worst. I was a bit intimidated to join the guests for breakfast, remembering another time I had worked with a fellow "down on his luck" who was entirely inappropriate and made me very uncomfortable.

The people at our table included a man who was decked from head to toe in leather. He had a long leather riding coat, leather pants, and his head and eyes were covered by a leather biker hat. He kept his head down so you couldn't see into his eyes. His clothes were immaculate, not worn, and under the leather he had a starched white shirt with the pristine collar pointed up. He did not speak, but occasionally nodded in response to a direct question from me, such as "was that enough?" He carried with him a old style, but in perfect shape carry-on bag that looked like it had many notebooks in it. I didn't pry or stare.

The next man was middle eastern, and very sweet. He was engaged directly in conversation, even asking his own questions. He was very grateful and classy.

The other man at our table was a black man who also was very pleasant. He didn't offer conversation, but did answer questions respectfully. There was a nice moment when I asked if all the churches served them pancakes, and they nodded yes. When I asked which church had the best pancakes, they answered, this one, of course. We all laughed.

What was remarkable about this was that for being this city's roughest homeless people, they appeared sober, clean, healthy, well dressed, well mannered. For all the things I hate about this city, if it can take care of its homeless pretty well, then it can't be all that bad.

Now can we have a few sidewalks for the homeless and the rest of us to walk on?????

Friday, January 15, 2010

Our Hatian Student

There's a student in our department who is from Florida, but his family is originally Hatian. I think he immigrated with his Mom to Florida, but that a majority of his family is still in Haiti.

He has heard nothing from his relatives. With a sad tone and an unspoken assumption, he said, "I have heard that they can call out but we cannot call in". I hope that is not true in what it implies.

I told him we were praying for him.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lab before Lecture

Whenever a lab is the first day of class, students always seem to wonder if they should show.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Imposter syndrome of the classroom

My first day of teaching ever, I remember having the distinct feeling that the students were going to see right through me. They will hear me speaking in generalities and vagueries, and know that I don't know my subject matter well. I will insult their intelligence and they will blow me off immediately. Moreover what I demand of them will be entirely disproportionate to what I can give. I was also intimidated because one of my students was the son of a local Bigshot who was a professional at what I was teaching...

Well, I made it through that. The students learned a lot in that class. Of course as time passed, I grew far more confident.

Today I started teaching an upper level very rigorous course. I am a sabbatical replacement and the usual instructor has a very elaborate and in-depth course. The course has s reputation as being tough and good. I looked at my class roster and knew almost all of the students in it: our brightest! As I was preparing for class, I had that imposter feeling again. They're going to roll their eyes, becuase in comparison I am going to be less organized and less knowledgeable, and they're going to see right through me.

After starting a class dicussion, it became very clear to me that my imaginary case was not close to reality. They will learn a LOT from me. They don't know it all already. They weren't rolling their eyes.

Maybe that imposter feeling is over for good. Hope so.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More Two Body Issues: Car

Today the key wouldn't turn in the lock of the car. We were stuck. Luckily this was not a big deal, I got a ride to our other car and came back for Hub and Boy. Hub is with the locksmith at the car right now.

It got me thinking: When Hub first took the job two hours away it was summer. School was out for me. Hub would take the car with him to Suburban Major Research U, and Boy and I would use the stroller, bike trailer, public transpo, or bum a ride. Occasionally Boy and I would spend the 4 hours dropping Daddy off so we could bring the car back home with us.

We eventually got another car, and Hub takes the safe one and I take the fuel efficient one. We in principle could get by on one car, but now its very cold, and I really want to have a car to get the Boy around. If one of them breaks down, its very inconvenient, and needs to be dealt with immediately. I know for most Americans this typical and unquestioned. But we bought a house very close to my work with the idea that we would be freed from the car "slavery". Alas, no.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's baa-aaack

The fatigue.

The first time I was preggo, my first trimseter I was nauseated, yes, but never threw up. But WOW! I was sooo fatigued. 6 pm I was begging to go to bed. I could not keep up with all my grading.

I am already feeling the fatigue (and nausea) again. Progesterone sequesters every ounce of motivation I have flowing through my veins. I have SO MUCH TO DO in the next day and a half (and tomorrow is my birfday- a beeeeeg birfday) but it feels like I can't even lift my arms to type sometimes.


must. write. syllabi.
must. make. monday's. lectures.
must..... zzzzznnngh

Friday, January 8, 2010

Another Two-Body Dilemma

Buy new house?

We have a 3 bedroom, and like to have an office. If each kid gets its own bedroom, we need a 4 bedroom. Interest rates are low and the housing market is such that we could get into a pretty nice one for cheap.

Problem is, we don't know how long we will be here. I'm on a permanent job, Hub is not. We've been loathe to relocate me to be closer to him for that reason. What if his contract ends and we don't have the other salary? Worse yet, what if we keep this lifestyle up for a long time? What if I don't get tenure? What if we can't sell our current house? What if we wait too long and the housing prices go up (see here about my tenacity)? What if we lose the baby? What if I'm too tired to keep the house in show worthy condition while still baby-proofed? Auuugh!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

More on P and T and maternity

The department chair reported back today after his inquiry to the provost's office.

But first I have to explain to you our P and T process, which is probably NOT representative of other PUIs (but not totally whacked out, either).

We don't actually have tenure. I use the term in this blog colloquially. We have increasing length contracts. When you are hired as permanent faculty, you get 3- 1 year contracts. You don't have to apply for those, but you do need to be making good progress. Then in your third year, you apply for a 3 year contract. This is what I am on now. At the end of your 3 year contract, you apply for a 5 year contract. The 5 year contract review is (relatively?) rigorous, and once you have the 5 year contract, though you must still apply every 5 years for a new one, there is "a long term commitment" to you from the institution. Its basically tenure, with the option to kick you out every 5 years, but a very low likelihood of that happening. I come up for a 5 year contract review in two years.

This is NOT tied to promotion: Titles and levels within titles. This is purely on a points system, and when you have reached enough points, you can apply for a promotion. For example, I am an Associate Prof but don't have tenure. Apparently I accomplished enough to get the title change early. It is up to us to keep track of our points and apply for promotions. The levels within titles are for pay grade increases. It would not behoove the university to remind everyone to apply for a pay raise. Therefore, we are on our own discretion here. Having said that, I applied for my Assoc. promotion at the behest of the Dean.

OK, so how does this fit in with maternity leave? Hub and I decided that one lecture-only course would be the max I want to do for next Fall. If I take on my full load for the following Spring, my yearly load will be more than 1/2 time (more than 12 hours). That keeps me on track for the contract renewal.

I know that tenure processes involve getting a certain amount of stuff done with a certain level of competency within those 6 years. Ours is also like that except I think the competency is more heavily weighted. For instance, at the U across town, you can have stellar teaching reviews, but if you don't get that paper published, no tenure. Here I think the emphasis is more on getting the stellar reviews consistently. I would be more in danger of not getting my long term contract if I was a middling teacher who published two papers, than if I get stellar reviews and no paper. Hear this: I want to do both. But right now, I'm rockin' the teaching. So I'm not sweating the review.

OK, so pushing the "tenure" review back would actually be disadvantagous, because I am still on track for the long term contract. And I can still be eligible for staying on track even if I only teach one class Fall semester. That's what its looking like I will do right now.

What are your T and P processes like?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tenure clock addendum; options for fall

I talked to my departmental chair today about my upcoming maternity leave. My due date is late August. Looks like I have several options.

1. Take the whole Fall semester off
2. Teach just the lecture portion of my Pet Class. It's basically all prepped.
3. Teach both the lecture portions of Pet Class and Advanced Cool Subject, which I've taught before.
4. Take my full load minus the labs that involve hazmat.

1. Whole semester off. This would allow me to spend a good 4 months with my newborn, be able to manage my toddler (who I imagine would still go to day care, at least part-time), my husband could still work 4 full days at Suburban MRU. I would still be a sleep deprived zombie, but just not one in front of a classroom. The hip thing*.

In this case, we'd have to put me and Boy on Hub's insurance, because I would lose mine.

2. Teach Pet Class lecture only. This is most appealing to me, but still doesn't bring me up to full-time status. This would involve me showing up 3 hours per week to lecture, perhaps add 1.5 hours a week to review my notes. Maybe an additional 1 hour per week to make and grade quizzes. I could use my old tests since I collect them every year. I would have to grade for 5 hours every three weeks for the tests. Add a few office hours in there... that's maybe 10 hours/ week of actual work. And it would keep me from being lonesome at home all day. I would have to put Widdlebitty into daycare or hire a bbsitter for at least those three hours/week. Baby sitters are abundant on college campuses. Widdlebitty could even be bbsat in my office. Then there's the hip thing*

3. Lecture of both classes. As above, but add another 10 hours/week on. To me it seems a bit much, BUT at this point, I would be considered full time and keep all my benefits. At a small college like ours, I could request that both of my classes are back-to-back, and the registrar can simply make that happen for me. :) Love that. If I was working this much, I would ask the Hub to be home more often. While he does computational work, he also has a supervisory role, and need to be there in the flesh a little.

4. Keep full time, farm out the portions of labs that involve hazmat, take my 4 weeks of full paid disability (yes, our maternity leave is really disability). This is what I did with the first baby. Big difference though, Hub did not have his job yet. He was a stay-at-home Dad. It's selfish, but it was ideal for me. :) I can't imagine doing this as a single Mom. no. no. no.

For one, I am a pretty laid-back parent. I trust the day care to "raise" my toddler, BUT they've had an influx of babies recently, and I see Widdlebitties crying in their cribs and not getting prompt attention. This causes me to bristle. For some reason my instinct is to attach, attach, attach at least until they grow a bit more independent (sitting up? 6 months?).

Here's an article I've read recently:

I could blog on it separately...
Hub is an orchid. I am a dandelion. I pray against/worry about my children as orchids. Do I feel the need to hover and cling, heck no. Do I feel the need to take the bonding/attachment process seriously. Heck yeah. Oh, oh yeah.

There's also the hip thing*

My chair said that he can't imagine this maternity leave being unfavorably viewed by the P and T committee. He looked at me like I was crazy when I asked. However, he would have to check to see if the fewer hours would calculate into later raises for me. It also may effect my sabbatical application, because they are competitive. More on that as I hear.

* The hip thing: Last pregnancy, as I grew closer to my due date, my joints all loosened up (as they do in all women). My hip joints were overzealous in their preparations to flex and open for baby's head squeezing out. I joke that they were more excited about childbearing than weightbearing.

My sacroiliac joint, the one that anchors the weight of your upper body to your hips, and therefore your legs, became extremely flexible and painful to the point I could not walk. I used crutches to ambulate, but it was still painful, and there are no safe (strong) painkillers for use while pregnant. I did get treated very well by the public. A hugely pregnant woman on crutches is a pitiful sight. :)

I could not walk for weeks before my delivery. I could not walk to ease/assist my labor. I could not walk or carry my baby for a week or so after the delivery (but now I could take drugs). After the birth it took FIVE MONTHS of physical therapy to have a day without achy hips.

I had a lot of help then. Now, my Hub is gone during the week. I try to imagine managing my 15 steps outside my home on crutches- carrying a toddler- let alone a diaper bag or my purse, and I just can't see that happening. Please, Lord, let this one pass over me this time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Push the tenure clock back?

I was hosting the HS students who bussed in to see Cool Sciencey thing, and they seemed to love it. Ahh, the rewards. That felt great. As we were chatting with their teacher, he said, "last year you were on maternity leave when we took this trip". Yes, its true.

I was also working with my co-teacher for low-level absolute favorite subject which is taught every other year. We were trying to put the right year on last time we taught. I said, "was I pregnant then?" She said "yes, you announced during the semester".

Then it really hit me. By having my babies two years apart, conceiving at about the same time both times (Hey its cold out there in Jan... :) ), I am basically going to be missing a big chunk of my teaching. This is my fourth year. My second year spring, I was pregnant (and exhausted and nauseous) the spring semester, then I had maternity leave in the Fall of my third year. Now I am pregnant in the Spring of my fourth year and will have maternity leave the Fall of my 5th year. So 9 semesters, 4 affected by childbearing; That's 44% of my time here. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating, because I was able to work a lot of that. Let's then say 9 semesters, two in which I took major time off (the maternity leave). That means I've only really worked 78% of my semesters. That's a C+ .

I've been naively assuming that it wouldn't affect me negatively at tenure time. But now I'm starting to wonder: push back the tenure bid a semester? I'm loathe to do that, because I feel I am doing really well despite it. My evals are generally very good, and I haven't taken a lighter schedule aside from maternity leave. In addition, I've worked many summers voluntarily, serve on more committees than one should, do a ton of community service (i.e. the HS students). I am really pulling my weight around here, despite the single motherhood. My research is active and of good quality (but I haven't written that paper yet). Besides, given the difficulty we have finding adjuncts for me, I can't imagine I'd be easy to replace.

That sounds like a lot of hubris. I think I'll ask my chair what he thinks about the maternity/ tenure issue.

Any ideas from the intelligent people that nonetheless read my blog? :)

I can't let go.

I co-teach a lower-level version of my absolute favorite subject with someone from another department. Let's just be honest right up front: the students in their department are particularly weak ones. I recognize many on the class list that started out in my department and ended up in theirs.

To add to this: the departmental culture is very different. That department wants to make college experiential and fun and build the students self-esteem. You've heard my take on things- I want to build my students self-esteem, too, but by giving them a whole lot of competencies and knowledge, and the ability to have a razor-sharp critical thinking apparatus.

So, its torture for me to teach my absolute favorite subject to students that aren't ready for some of the basic concepts, who may be intimidated as hell by this course (which I find rather fluffy), and who already see me as the "other". They're all seniors, and so have had their "self-esteem built" for 3 years now, and are in a nice comfortable "feed me" frame of mind when it comes to knowledge. In addition, I had to beg my colleague to include just ONE quantitative lab for the semester: please, can we just measure something???

My mentor says "then teach them the basic concepts, and teach to their level". Yes I know that in my head, and will do my best to accomplish that. But in my heart I'm gettin' an "attitude". This attitude showed two years ago, as two of my teaching evals said "she made me feel stupid". I NEVER want to see that on my evals again. EVER.

I should be grateful for the training in teaching to many different levels. I should be grateful that several of the students have had me in my Pet Course, and therefore are paying me a compliment by taking another of my classes. I should be grateful to teach another class in my absolute favorite subject. Oh, how I love to expound on its beauty and wonders...

OK, I'm going to perseverate on that for a while. Yay, course. Yay course. Yay course, ohm, ohm, ohm.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Well, vacation is over, isn't it?

I should not complain since unlike other working people, I don't have to be back to work today. But work is lurking, lurking.

I have to write a letter of reference (LOR) for a pre-professional student stat. He requested too late to form a committee, and the committee didn't form. Now his applications are showing a missing LOR. Looks like I have to step in and take care of it, because I am the advisor and head of the pre-professional committee.

Another LOR needs to be done soon.

And my favorite, showing high school students our cool sciencey-thing (CST). Two classes of HS students are coming this week before our classes start to see it. Our cool sciencey thing has some hazmat involved with it, so I am going to do the dog-and-pony show outside of the dedicated room for the CST, while our very qualified but uncredentialed person will be working on the inside. He really wanted me to do the leading of the CST, and when I resisted and he pushed, then I had to spill the beans about my condition. No one can argue with a pregnant lady that wants to avoid hazmat. Trump card.

However, I do start to worry that these two pregnancies are causing me to not be able to do my job enough that I need to be thinking about my "tenure" bid. More on that next post.