Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Home Stretch

I can see it.  I can hear it.  My weary body is beginning to breathe a sound of relief.

Only 2 more lectures to go and then a final exam.  I can do this. 

Lab is finished with.  They had their final the other night, and I've already graded them and tallied the lab grades.

Now just to get through the remaining 3 classes, and then I will have time to devout solely to research.   

I'm on the schedule to teach again come Fall, after a much needed summer break.  We'll see if my class fills.  Registration hasn't started yet.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Read My Mind

Do you know I expect students to read my mind?


Or at least that was what I was informed of yesterday by a student.

He had an issue with his last exam.   I should say he had multiple issues with the exam (mainly stemming from the fact that he got a 62% on it), but I will spare you the details.  Instead I will focus on the fact that apparently I expect my students to read my mind.  Heaven forbid that the information asked about was not only in the book but was also in my lecture powerpoint and was extensively covered in class.

However, this particular student, when asked a short answer question to provide all the major differences between Topic A and Topic B, thought that providing just one difference should have been enough to get him full credit on the question.   He didn't understand why he got less than partial credit on the question and he argued and argued with me.   He kept coming back to the same statement, "I didn't know I was expected to read your mind."

How does fully and completely answering the question require any mind-reading?   I believe, and correct me if I'm wrong, that it simply requires actually reading the material, paying attention in class, and studying.

But apparently that is too much to ask, and I should just give everyone full credit if they throw the words DNA, RNA or protein into their answer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Too many e-mails?

So how many e-mails are too many from one single student?

I have one student who e-mails me (give or take) 3 times a day.  Always has a question on the readings, has questions on assignments, has questions on homework, etc, etc, etc.  I have reached the point where I  just plain don't feel like answering her back.  I ultimately do, but I've lost the need to e-mail her back ASAP.  I doubt many other professors  constantly and continually respond to their students, at all hours of the day and night, weeknights and weekends.   

Maybe that was my mistake.  By starting out with a good response time, I doomed myself.  Now she expects an answer right away, hence the constant deluge of e-mails.   

So I am weening myself off.

Well, weening from just responding.  Don't think I could ween myself off checking my e-mail.  But thats a topic for another post.

Friday, April 10, 2009


So yesterday I had to hand out the "professor evaluation" forms.  Or actually, my designated student handed them out and collected them, placing them in a sealed envelope, which I then deposited on the administrative assistant's desk.

Do I wonder what they say?   Yeah.
Am I nervous about what they say?  Yeah.

But thats a good thing, right?  'Cause if I didn't care at all about being a good professor or teacher, then I wouldn't care what the evaluations said, right?  Right?

I don't expect to get perfect scores, since really I am a new fledgling teacher just learning to spread her wings and fly.  There is a lot of room for improvement and the rationale side of me knows that.   But the other side of me just wants everyone to like me and think that I'm doing a good job.

Unrealistic, eh?

Especially the everyone like me bit.   Outside of the classroom everyone doesn't like me, so why would all my students like me?  Especially those that are currently failing.

 Apparently the assistant dean reads through the evaluations and will talk to me about them at my end of year review.  Will there be anything useful to help me become a better instructor in those evaluations?   My gut says no.

So has anyone ever benefited from student evaluations?

Also, and this is kinda related.... has anyone ever looked themselves up on Rate My Professor?  'Cause I have.  And I think I'm going to wait awhile before doing it again.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dealing with job and outside stress

So my question for today is what are some ways other people have found that helps you deal with still being productive while working (bench work and teaching) while you're dealing with non-work issues.

I'll save everyone the current drama in my life except to say it deals with an extremely ill relative and an even sicker doggie family member.  For those who don't know me, I've mentioned at the very beginning of this blog that I have 2 fur "babies".   Right now, they are our children.  And one of them just got a horrible diagnosis so we have some major decisions to make regarding his care.

The reason I ask this question is because I'm sitting at work right now (post-doc work, in the lab) and I can't think about my experiments.  My notebook is open in front of me, my organisms sitting on my bench ready to be experimented on, and nothing is happening.  My brain can not function.  Honestly, I'll be amazed if this post makes sense to anyone besides me.

Add to that, last night I tried to work on my lecture for this week (genetics and inheritance) and I couldn't do a thing.  I spent all of my time googling potential treatment options (which only made me more and more depressed).

So now I have to teach a lab tonight that I haven't done any prep work for at all.  Have to lecture on thursday and just have the bare-bones of a powerpoint presentation ready to go, nothing else.

Do I just shut my brain off to everything non-work related and delve into work?  Unfortunately, I don't think I'm the sort of person who can do that.  So I guess the only option is just push through it all.  'Cause the world doesn't stop revolving just because you've been dealt a shitty hand.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I don't appreciate the tone

Is it just me, or are students a lot less respectful than they used to be?  

I don't remember ever talking back to my teachers or professors.  But it seems like every class now, I have someone coming up to me with some smart aleck remark or comment.  Is it just that I wasn't that sort of student so I didn't notice other students doing it?  Or has the attitude of students actually changed?

They seem to want As just for showing up, never mind they haven't put an ounce of effort in to the class.  They want to hand in assignments days or even weeks late, with no explanation, and expect a passing grade on it.  And if they don't get their way, they argue.   And boy oh boy, can they argue.

Maybe they should just all get degrees in debating... and leave the science alone.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Currently Unfunded

That's my funding status.

I finally got my review back from ACS (after they took their good old sweet time... see here).   Apparently I am a "very strong candidate" whose "mentor is a well established and highly regarded researcher in field X", however my research plan suffers from being "overly ambitious and not focused enough."

Hmmm... though both my 2 reviewers did say I should resubmit.  So I guess I have some revisions coming my way and attempts to focus the research down.   The next time I can submit is October 15th, so I have a while to deal with it.  (Technically the next time I could submit would have been April 1st, however since I only got the feedback on April 1st, that wasn't really a possibility.)

Oh, yeah, and the final overall recommendation was "Low Excellent"

What the heck does that mean?

I think I need to make a sign and post it on my door.

"Dr. Temporary Prof - Low Excellent"

Maybe I should change my blog title to that....

ps- I know this is all part of the process, so I'm really not that upset about not getting a fellowship.  Though it would have been nice...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tired. So Tired.

I feel like I could sleep for days.... well, maybe just one. But still, the entire day.

Part of me can't wait until summer when the only thing I will have to do is research. The other part of me can't help thinking that if I'm tired now, only teaching one class, how in the world am I going to make it as a full-time faculty member? Having multiple classes to teach and hopefully a lab to run.

I love what I do, but where do you draw the line? When do you just say, enough is enough and for your own sanity lessen the load a little.