Friday, February 19, 2010

Data collection deux- PI choices

My student e-mailed me after 4 hours in the lab, saying he had tried several times and wasn't getting anything; that it seems that the samples were bad. He said he'd try again today. Then I got an e-mail saying that he had the flu and wasn't coming in. Drat.

Now I had a choice. I taught early in the AM, and mid AM. Then I was free for about three hours before some student meetings. What should I have done with those three hours?

1. Go into the lab and collect the data myself
2. Prep for next Monday's classes so I'm not scrambling around over the weekend.
3. Go for my normally scheduled swim time
4. Grade the pile of papers which are really late in getting back to the students

Let's look at each of these.

1. Collect data myself. I miss collecting data. I needed to fine-tune the measurement equipment, to make sure my student can just go in there and sit down and collect. The specimens shouldn't have been wasted. BUT if they were as bad as he indicated, it would have been futile. and THIS project is NOWHERE close to finished, so I don't feel pressure to get the data myself.

2. Prep for Monday. One of Monday's classes is the advanced interesting subject for which I am a sabbatical replacement. This is taught at such a high level that the textbook is from graduate school. I know the subject matter well at a lower level, but I feel as though I really have to study hard for this course. Moreover, we are a few days behind, due to weather, so lectures have to be very efficient. The reading I have to do just to understand the graphs for this course is considerable. In my limited capacity (fatigue), I never feel prepped enough for this course. Besides I want to know the material cold and in depth for my own curiosity and professional development. I suppose this sounds really strange to you who teach only a few courses right down your area of expertise, but at a small PUI, were are generalists, and a Ph.D. doesn't guarantee that you know all the stuff for an advanced course cold- at least the first time through!

3. My swim. I really consider exercise to be the one thing that thickens the thin thread that anchors me to sanity. I prioritize it even a bit higher now that I am pregnant, because I consider myself to be preventing pain and complications. In graduate school, I often reminded myself that I couldn't break the "law" of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. My bastardized version says that I can't succeed in my career (self actualization) without feeding myself, making sure I have a safe (maybe not neat, but safe) shelter, practicing hygeine and taking care of my health.

4. Grade the huge stack of papers. These count directly on my teaching evaluations, which count directly and heavily toward tenure. Every semester I've had at least a student or two say it took too long to get papers back. And they are right. BUT I really hate doing it. Ugh. Hard to make myself do it, i.e. its a lack of self-discipline.

Guess what I did?

I went swimming.