Monday, January 31, 2011

Geez, and I thought it was a good test

Wrote a test for the non-majors course that I thought was thorough and appropriate. Looked good when the first students turned it in at 35 minutes and the last at 50 minutes. Class average? 60.8% I even had a 25% (on a 4 answer multiple choice). High score? 84.

I need to adjust (curve, throw out questions) before handing them back so I don't crush their curiosity. Right?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My evil, evil plan

My evil, evil plan to turn Hub into a compliant sock picker-upper.

In response to the discussion on my last post:
and its sister article

The question (as with all things educational) is whether he has enough capacity and/or we have enough time to meet our goals. My goals, I mean MY goals.


Monday, January 24, 2011

The nasty threat of last resort

Also titled "Stay There"

We have recently emerged from a very stressful time that was trying on our marriage. A bit about Hub; he doesn't sleep well, and its not in his nature to bust a dust mop unless asked. He just doesn't see the dirt...

There were several weekends, erm months, in a row when he would come home and spell me for Thursday night. Girl would wake up several times however and Hub would not be able to fall right back to sleep each time. Then he would be really tried and cranky for Friday and Saturday because he was sleep-deprived. He would nap each day while leaving me with the kids and he would bark and growl and grunch around.

Moreover, he didn't spontaneously do the dishes, but instead would leave dishes lie, leave stuff all over the floor, drop trou on the bedroom floor and leave them there, and (most annoying), wouldn't close cabinet and closet doors after he opened them. A trail of destruction followed him that often criss-crossed with the trail of destruction lain down by his 2-year old son.

For a while I appreciated the one nights sleep, and he would spend almost the entire weekend playing with the kids, freeing me up to cook and clean unencumbered (something I do spontaneously if I have the energy). But then the mess started to really get to me.

I wondered if the place would be LESS messy if he didn't come home to be with me and watch the kids. Several weekends in a row I came very close to sending him back to his apartment out of anger. But I knew that denying him the chance to see his kids, when he so desperately missed them, would require something far more serious than my frustration with his slovenliness.

I finally did reach the end of my rope, but didn't shout at him and throw his clothes on the porch like I had envisioned myself doing. We aren't screamers anyway (icy silence, anyone?). I did tell him in a reasonable tone that he doesn't lighten my burden but just changes it. I said that when he is home I spend all the energy that I would save- by not wrangling the kids solo- picking up after him.

I think he took it seriously, and has really stepped up the efforts to provide me with real relief. He does a little better at picking up after himself, and he keeps in mind that one of his jobs is not just to play with kids, but to keep the house a little sane for my mental relief.

We both lament the fact that his bachelor freedom for half the week has resulted in him slipping back into his bachelor bad habits. At least realization has helped us deal with it. Girl is sleeping longer in the night, and I take the kids with me to the gym on weekends (they have a day care there) to give Hub a time to recharge his weekend batteries so he can have energy to be helpful. Hub even spent last weekend installing 3 new light fixtures around the house. I was very pleased. Now we both see the light.

Response to a.b.'s comment;
I dated him for nearly 10 years. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I said yes to the shiny ring. I, too, am culpable, but I am laso patient...and have an evil plan to slowly, slowly get him fully up to speed around the house.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Non-majors course update

Have now lectured twice to the non-majors course: once on what science is and once on very basic chemistry. My feeling is that the lecture went pretty OK the first day, but I didn't have any activities for them to do, it was a straight lecture with PowerPoints. I did tell stories and give examples that weren't in the book (the book is chock full of "applications"). I'm guessing from their faces that it was a little above average, perhaps better than they were expecting.

I had lab on Tuesday; two sections. The first section (20 students) were relaxed, when broken into groups had lively conversations. They came up with some great personal examples for positive and negative correlations (age vs wisdom; one would hope--or-- Time on Facebook vs GPA). it seemed almost fun. Then the second section came. There were 9 students. They did not talk back to me during the intro, and when made into groups, one group had a "leader" that got them going, albeit forcedly so, and the other group, DID NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT with each other, they sat during the entire 3-4 minutes of discussion time with their eyes on their paper, some doodling, and even with gentle prompting from me, still refused to speak to each other. WOW!

But then there was lecture today. Half of the 29 students had already covered basic chemistry in another course and of those, a show of hands showed that many remember hating it. So I went slowly, boring the tears out of the approx 6-7 that had a good solid chemistry background.

I like to show a video of the gamma knife procedure (Pittsburgh has a good one) to explain isotopes. And I used brickle blocks to have them build covalent bonds; the *brickle blocks "share" little tines to form a bond. You can even make them Mickey-mouse like to show polarity of water, that water has a sidedness.

I thought it went pretty OK, a little more above average. I was worried about boring the advanced students. I was really looking forward to macromolecules, for which I have great toys.

Then I got this e-mail:

Where would you like us to submit our write ups for the lab? I looked and could
not find a place to submit it at.

Thank you,
Student :)

PS. Class was great today!

And now I feel like a million bucks.

*brickle blocks? A quick search of the internet shows that this is NOT the name of these things. I don't know what they are really called. They are shapes of plastic covered all over with soft tines. They connect with each other by interlocking their respective tines.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Anxiety Dreams/ Birthday.

Today is my birthday. We are doing / have done NOTHING about it, because last year I had a big catered party, and I simply don't feel the need for anything this year. Still basking in last years' glow.

Today is the first day of class. I had a dream that I was in a big Shakespearean play with a large audience. I had a main role and was in the opening scene, but I had not bothered to memorize my lines and didn't know them when the curtain opened. I related this to my husband and he laughed saying, I'm not psychoanalyst but I think I can figure this one out...

I'm not really an anxious person, just one driven to do my best and constantly aware of my limitations. Looks like this non-majors' course is going to give me plenty to ponder. I welcome the chance to hone my teaching skills. Bring it on, but please, be nice!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Non-majors course

I'm really vacillating about how I feel about this non-majors' course I'm teaching. My colleague from another institution loves hers (she is extremely energetic). But my departmental colleagues keep cautioning me, don't expect too much. I know that its not just about jumping around and making things affective (telling gross stories, stories about people), that I must engage them in process. But honestly, I'm a little afraid of really pouring myself into it and having my heart broken by a bunch of hostile and disengaged students. I get the impression that this is where my colleagues are.

I know that some teachers specialize in teaching science to proclaimed science-haters, such as my friend from another institution. I want to do a really good job, but probably won't end up specializing in it. I wonder just how much I can give this course with my current lifestyle. I wonder if I can forgive myself if it doesn't go as well as it could. I wonder if it will reflect badly for my long-term contract review. Fill-in-the next segment of this blog with nervous angst.

Does anybody reading teach (successfully) a non-majors course? Is keeping their interest as delicate as I imagine? What do you do? What is your attitude going in? That you are going to help that "one" starfish? Or that you are going to be able to engage everyone with your time-proven techniques?

starfish story

Thursday, January 6, 2011

And that's why I blog; solutions to the Schlep

Thank you kind commenters on my post "chaotic mornings"!

According to your suggestions, I have moved half my pump parts to work and have made a little station for cleaning the parts that involves my hot water kettle and a couple of coffee mugs that allow me to sterilize the vacuum chamber of my pump each time I use it (Medela Pump-in-style). I had the sterilizer bags, too, stashed away and have moved them to work. Now I just carry the pump itself in. Moreover, after I pump I put the milk bags in the departmental freezer, and at the end of the day I collect them and take them straight to the day care and leave them in their freezer overnight. The milk doesn't even come home.

I have ditched the diaper bag by leaving a couple of changes of clothes at each daycare. I ditched the purse and put my wallet etc. in my work bag. I have given up on schlepping work home since its true, I rarely work on it once it gets home anyway. I move a few things to network drives so I can work on electronic stuff at home. I will contact the publisher for additional desk copies (free!) of all of my texts so I don't carry them back and forth.

I put my gym bag in my trunk where it will stay until I can smell it up front (its a hatchback, relax). So yesterday and today I carried only my work bag and my pump (and the babyphone wallet.) I have forgotten to pack my lunch both days, but still can fit that in the work bag. (Discursion; my work bag is actually a Timbuk2 messenger bag that I got in 1998. It has had heavy, daily use for 13 years now and is still in great shape. Highly recommended.)

I could shave this further by getting a breast pump for work. We'll give it a few weeks to see if I can better use that $200 elsewhere. Moreover, I took a sports bra (earlier) and cut two slits right at the nipple. I put the shields on the inside and the rest on the outside and now I pump hands free.

Now If I can only get the toddler not to dawdle going up and down stairs...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chaotic Mornings with Many Little Parts

Class starts next Monday. This week I rehearse getting everything necessary to get to work on time. Slept till 8 today (thanks, kiddos). Between:
feeding Boy (2.25 yo),
getting him pottied,
getting him in a pull-up
getting him dressed,
nursing Girl (0.3333 yo),
getting her changed and dressed,
packing Girl's frozen milk and change of clothes, putting my pump together, gathering materials for work, and more,
I left the house 2.0 hours later.

And with the following bags:
Breast Pump
Diaper Bag for Girl
Milk Cooler for Girl
Gym Clothes
Work Bag (books, papers etc)
Little wallet with Baby Phone that I keep always on me


By the time I got Boy dropped off and to Girl's daycare, It was 2.5 hours later, and time to nurse again. So I nursed Girl for 30 min at the daycare. And got into work at 11 am. That simply won't do. Moreover, I forgot parts to the pump that got washed last night, so now I have to run home to pump.

Two daycares?

Time's gotta come down, Number of Bags has gotta come down, and pre-prep has to go up.

Any suggestions?

I'd love to buy another breast pump for the office so I don't have to tear down, wash and piece back together about 30 parts, but that's expensive and still doesn't solve the problem completely. Thanks, Micro Dr. O for making me laugh in solidarity.
her post, corrected. Sorry

Monday, January 3, 2011

Whew. Avoided the worst.

I blog a lot about daycare. That's because it's the absolutest top priority for a working semi-single Mom like me. No daycare, no workie. Today I called the daycare to confirm that my arrangements in November for Girl (4 mos now) still were good. I did not make a deposit on that day in Nov, but should have. In any case, I called to confirm Girl still had a slot. The panic of the director saying "no" was screaming through my head, but then...

she said yes. All is again good with the world.