Sunday, April 30, 2006

Teaching -- one more week... by the numbers...

5 hours of presentations (ethical issues---fun for me :) ).
2.5 hours of logic
2.5 hours of extra logic review (will they show up??? Some of them will if they want to pass their final.)
2 debate recruitment meetings
7 debate portfolios to read
1 logic exam to finish
1 ethics exam to finish
1 paper to finish (yes, I'll do it soon!)
2 papers to send to flat state...

On to the fun stuff...
Next week:
1 logic final to give -- about 35 to grade (Monday)
80ish Intro to Philosophy exams to grad (due Monday)
4 syllabi to write for next year (Ethics, honors Ethics, Logic and Debate)
1 teaching circle book to compile..

1 vacation to plan (YEA!! a week in Steamboat to read and relax...).

This summer...
1 dissertation to write (uff da).

Writing -- If I blog it, I'll do it...

I finally finished another version of my Ancient Philosophy area paper.. I will mail it tomorrow ---

Today I will finish a version of my metaphysics/epistemology area paper, on the difference between ASL and English... I will mail it tomorrow.

reall I will.
and I won't be afraid of rejection --- it is the only way I can get feedback from them.

I really wont' be afraid of rejection. I expect both to be rejected. I expect to revise them one more time, doing ANYTHING to them that is necessary to get them passed.

I swear..
wish me luck and look for future whining when they are rejected.

Just because I expect the rejection doesn't mean I'm not going to be irritated....

Saturday, April 29, 2006


So sue me, I'm late with Poetry Friday...

The good times come with mud

muddy by shoes in the hall
fun times on the mud flats

mud on my tennis shoes
in the BWCA
behind a beaver dam
with that boy of my 17 year-old crush
I went 'cuz he did
I'm glad I did

mud on my forrest green Jeep
from some back road
to someplace people don't go
which makes it great
Minnesota mud,
Canadian mud

soon to be Colorado mud
I can't wait to get muddy

Friday, April 28, 2006

Teaching -- fiction / book suggestions for ethics?

I'm teaching an honors ethics section next semester... I have a variety of ways to make it an honors section, but hubby and I were talking today, and I think I'd like to use some less traditional texts as supplements..

So -- I'm looking for fiction or easy-read non-fiction that deals with social problems..

I'd also be interested in movies that could inspire good discussions of social problems..

So far, I'm thinking of the following

"Nickle and Dimed" by Barbara Erinrich (sp??) about the plight of the working poor.
"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult about medical ethics, use of another person etc...
'Transister Radio" by someone I can't recall -- about transexual issues and problems...
hubby has a few good suggestions for international relations issues...

I'd like something about business ethics (I'm even considering "Office Space") --

Something good about euthanasia, the death penalty, affirmative action, same-sex marriage etc... would be good..

I'd also like to know if you have suggestions as to how to organize the class. I know I read somethng on someone's brilliant blog about a course where the students divided the work up and then presented the ideas and lead discussions...

I'm kind of thinking about dividing my group into four parts -- each with a different topic. Each topic would be covered in a week... maybe with me doing the philosophical stuff the first meeting and the students doing their thing the second meeting... creatively presenting a moral quandry from the book and leading the class in discussions.

Suggestions?? feedback??

Teaching -- response to Rate my Students...

Again, were I good at the link thing there would be one here...

Rate my students is a place where teachers can rant a bit about their students.

One post contained an analysis contained in the Minnesota Daily, which said something to the effect that a teacher who saw their students as lazy and willing to lie for the slightest reasons has some kind of mental illness and should choose another profession.. HUH?? Frankly, if you don't see your students that way -- you've lost what little critical thinking skills that you have gained.

I can't say that ALL of my students are lazy and willing to lie, but a large enough percentage of them have demonstrated their lack of concern for good work (i.e. are lazy..) and I have CAUGHT them in lies up to their eyeballs... if you aren't catching them i it s because YOU aren't looking -- not because they aren't lying to you.

The other post took a shot at group presentations and "active learning" techniques..

Granted, I'm not one who is willing to have students do a bunch of dumb-ass "active" assignemnts and say they've learned philosophy... but I do think that group presentations, when constructed properly, place the responsibility for learning ON the learner. This is especially true when they have to do the research and decide on the general theme of the presentation themselves.

Of course you have slackers and kind of crappy presentations -- that is why you need to be a bit more involved with the development of the project --

This post says that class should be canceled for things like individual writing conferences... ummm-- nice idea, but do you have any idea how much class I'd have to plan to cancel for 50 students to each have a 10 minute writing conference? I can do 7 per 75 minute class period?? The answer is nearly 8 class meetings -- a whole month of class.

I usually enjoy Rate my Students... if you haven't read it, go do so --

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Teaching -- yea for repeat students

So -- I'm sitting in what the girlfriend of the Russian described as my, "hip and modern" office (huh ?? the furniture is just like everyone else's) counseling a logic student on the brink of tears (got a D+++++++ now, scared of the final) when I see a flash of THEM in the doorway waiting for the crying girl to be done... I know then that my day will get better.

THEY are a couple -- they are also two of my favorite students. They come to my office and the topic of conversation goes from "is this the logic book you'll use," to "you and hubby are so cute in this picture" to "my mom is crazy, but she got a new kidney" to "I want to be a marine-biologist or work at the zoo (her)" -- he wants to be a philosophy prof... at a CC (scary, he wants to be ME... yikes..). We are already talking job-market and how to position yourself with a grad department... wow.

They will be in my MW classes -- both classes, both students... I'm pretty sure I can handle the madness from 2:30-5:15 on MW... I did it on Wednesday nights last fall.

This is a couple I really like. She's out-going, a bit brassy and really has an amazing sense of humor AND a passion to do what she thinks is right. He's more quiet, a slightly better student and prone to say very reflective things... and he loves her to death. She knows she's got a good thing in him and, although she teases him -- she loves him just as much. They are the kind of students I came to a CC to teach -- non-traditional students with a passion for learning.

During our conversation we decided that going to school wasn't just a vocational thing -- sure, you need a job, but going to college isn't all about that -- they are the first students in a long time who actually brought that concept up with me... I didn't have to introduce them to the idea. They appreciate their college experiences. They don't always get their homework done, their papers and exams aren't perfect and they don't always have the right answers in class ---- and that is what makes them so much fun.. .because they love school in spite of not always getting a pat on the back and an "I'm smart today" sticker...

THEY are really into animal welfare. They have quite a few foster-dogs and were heavily involved in the care and long-term placement of Katrina dogs. I didn't have a chance to ask them about that...

Next fall is going to be a riot -- they'll challenge me just like I NEED to be challenged. Now, I can't wait to start their classes -- too bad I have to do the others... maybe I'll get lucky there too??

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Personal -- hubby the curler...

You know that weird winter Olympic sport that "nobody watches"... where they slide a big round thing down the ice and a couple of people run in front of it rubbing the ice so that the big round thing gets closer to the target...

In BNCC, we call it "curling" -- kind of like Sweedish/Canadia/BNState bowling... and hubby is in TWO curling leagues --

One meets on Sunday late-afternoons at a normal ice rink -- not very comfortable... I probably won't go back to watch.

The other meets in an actual curling club. It is a building built for curling. You walk in and there are 6-8 lanes, with benches etc... at the end. There are permanent scoreboards etc...

There is a VERY comfortable place to watch the action... great leather couches etc -- there are locker rooms and a BAR upstairs. This is my kind of spectator sport --i.e. one that keeps me from having to go to grading jail (I got all of the current crop of shor assignments done, my students will be shocked!).

If the bar's grill was open and I could get internet, I'd never leave...why should I?

I suppose they'd think it was a bit strange that I was there and hubby wasn't on the ice -- perhaps I could be the first curling cheerleader? hmmmmm

Monday, April 24, 2006

Debate -- funny

We were in my Intro to Philosophy class.... in that class are D1 and the Russian.

A student (not a debater) called the Russian "a (insert D2's last name here)"

D1 and I looked at eachother across the room... confused --

I said in my best 'not a baby' voice... "not a D2"

D1 laughed -- because the Russian and D2 are VERY different. He got the joke

The Russian said "D2 is much cooler than me"... He didn't get the joke.

the rest of the class didn't quite get it, but had to agree anyway.

Kind of made me want to sing "waitin' on D2, waiting on D2 hi-ho the merry-o we're waitin on D2" -- just for old time's sake.

I'm going to miss this easygowing crowd... Swear Jar, the worry girl, Herbie, and the one I don't have a nickname for will be good -- but a different team. I'm also not going to have the camp bonding experience I had with D1/D2 and Rex... so, we'll see how it goes.

Teaching --- countdown

Starting tomorrow (Tuesday)
7 teaching days
4 regular lecture days
5 presentation days
2 class evaluations (did one today...) EVER (at BNCC...).
2 weeks until finals
2 big exams to write
A BUNCH of small papers to grade
2 big exams to grade
A bunch of presentations to watch
2 logic review sessions to give
1 vacation in Colorado to book...
7 debate portfolios to read

MANY instances of student panic, about which I am pretty much oblivious

Starting when I get final grades done...
3 Months off to:
go on vacation in Colorado
go to conference in Utah
work on dissertation
help hubby move to NE

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Domestic -- hubby said a funny...

So, we are on the way home from our "hey the contract is up, let's go get new phones" ritual -- which also includes dinner...

After dinner we nearly run over a squirrel with the Jeep (he made a quick U-turn to save his own life..)...

This prompts me to mention that the Hollywood stars are wearing fake eyelashes made from squirrel... (which, is true).

Hubby -- hoping to spare my feelings says that the squirrels probably donated their hair for JLo's eyelashes... which made me laugh a lot...

Then he said "well, squirrels must shed, they probably get it that way" -- which was even funnier... the image of someone collecting squirrel sheddings ... following them around in the spring when they shed their heavy winter coats...

As we hop into the elevator, he says that he is just trying to keep me from thinking about them killing the squirrels for eyelashes... which I think is very sweet...

just FYI, every animal by the side of the road is sleeping -- NOT roadkill... some of them sleep in very akward positions, but they are really sleeping... even, without their heads and legs and stuff... really. right? This is a fact about the world anybody who travels with me knows---

Academic Saturdays...

BNCC has a significant technical component -- it is also "ruled" more or less by some senior people who aren't in academic fields.... (i.e. they either teach hands-on technical courses with little grading, or phys ed... with equally little grading).

This is why I got so officially PISSED when the Queen Bee from phys ed suggested that my teaching circle re-schedule for a Saturday morning so that the members of our circle could go to the retirement party.

Ummmm I work on Saturday mornings... I said to her..

She, (not being too bright) looked puzzled..

In order to keep up with a 5/5 load, I have to GRADE on Saturdays. Also, at least a couple of the members of my circle TEACH on Saturdays. She looked even more puzzled...

I suppose if you are just teaching people how to do push-ups there is little work-related that fills your weekend.

This is why they complain that we "only" have 20 contact hours (15 teaching, 5 office hours) -- they think that equates to WORKING 20 hours... and don't understand why that means we really work 45-60 per week.

At least our new academic VP is former English faculty and not stupid about these things... the last one caved in and made some scheduling rules that were bizarre... (no back-to-back classes, no 4 day teaching schedule without 2 night classes...). I have a feeling that will change.

I also have a feeling that I'm writing a post to avoid working on my papers..

I should go now.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Teaching -- goodbye teaching circle

So -- today was our last meeting for our teaching circle. I'm kind of sad that it is coming to an end just when we're really getting to know one another. They really are a nice bunch, probably my favorite circle so far. It was easy to facilitate them.

The topic was teaching with web technology -- our previous meetings were demonstrations, working with D2L, e-folios and the like. The last meeting was problems, issues and other stuff. Most of the group is older than me, some with kids who are in high school and college. They don't know the difference between IM, Facebook and blogs.

Of course, we had to look at my facebook -- and we discussed the possible problems students may have with it etc... as well as the problems it can cause for teachers. A middle school teacher had some students make a fake myspace with stuff about child porn on it... the teacher didn't know until someone else told them.

Then the topic moved to blogs... I showed them "Rate your Students" and a couple of others... we discussed why people would want to blog etc.. I want it on record that I defended y'all (i.e. people who have blog friends) against the charge of not having a "real" life.

The funny part came when we, jokingly, accused the only guy in the circle of having a psuedononymous blog... then, whenever we'd say something we'd rather not have the administration hear, we'd ask him if that was going on his blog :)... Of course, I had a blog post planned all along.

The topic then moved to academic freedom, freedom of speech and problems caused for faculty etc.. We started to discuss a recent controversy at school, the remanents of which are on the bulletin board upstairs-- so, then we took a walk to see what the fuss was about etc.. (I'll post later on stupid stuff adjuncts do..).

After the walk, we discussed a whole lot of other stuff, including the news that TWO of my circle had their projects selected for an innovation conference in NC next fall.. the group had some great suggestions as to how to make it work. Sadly, the time was up and we had to say goodbye.

So -- if any of you are lurking and reading my blog -- thanks for keeping my secret (JQ, you had a funny look on your face, do you read???) leave a comment or something... I won't mind. What happens in the circle stays in the circle... besides, if you know me, it is pretty clear that this blog couldn't belong to ANYONE else.

Teaching -- lecturing to the ignorant... options / opinions?

A friend of mine who is also a good teacher had the following situation in her class....

The basic schedule....
2 class meetings ago, they took an exam.

Last class meeting, they had a reading assignment and an accompanying homework assignment.

Next class meeting she has another homework assignment due, which will reflect information from the last class meeting.

When she went to the first section of the day, it became clear to her that they hadn't done the 4 page reading assginement. When she asked who had actually done the reading, nobody raised their hands. She responded by saying that they should take note of the homework assignment for next time and that for today class was not going to be held. She told them that if they didn't do their reading she couldn't teach them effectively. She packed up her stuff, told them to go do their reading and that she expected their homewrk assignments next class. They looked sheepish and left.

The second session of this class was later in the day. She asked them the same question, one or two people raised their hands. She asked everyone who had not completed the reading assignment to leave. A couple of students got belligerent -- (I'm not sure exactly how -- but one cursed and the other provoked, so she made both leave)... another student asked politely to stay, saying that she is confused by the reading but understands when she reads it after lecture [subject for another post...].

Do you think she did the right thing? It clearly upset her students, but that may be what she needed to do in order to teach them the hard stuff to come --

Is it common for students to mentally and/or physically take the day after an exam off?

Is it unreasonable to give an exam on a Tuesday and expect a reading assignment and homework due on a Thursday?

Have you done this or other things to let a class know that their level of preparation was unacceptable?

If you've done this, how did they react?

Teaching -- dog dad

In my division, two of my good friends are "dog mom" and "dog dad".

Sadly, dog mom is moving on to greener pastures -- next year at a school on the east coast who has no idea what a brilliant and compassionate person they hired away from us.... I'll miss her tons!

Yesterday I was in a hallway meeting with Wise Woman, Logic guy and dog dad -- I saw a nice little department who could talk about problems, teaching and student challenges -- both learning from one another AND challenging one another.

At work, next year will be good. At home, it will be lonely. I suppose it would have been too perfect for hubby to get the great job IN town... oh well. Mabye I'm not supposed to be in such a nice cozy little department....

Do I get to/ have to/ want to sit on the committee for the person who will replace me when I move to flat state? hmmm...

I think that debate coach will get my office, if they are in our hallway then -- if not, it will probably go to logic guy before dog dad, or to one of the art people (who currently work in windowless offices.. just wrong!( -- one way or the other, Philosophy Factory II will be across the hall in the no-windows land...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Teaching -- so, who did we hire??

The identity of the person still needs to remain confiential -- and I wouldn't put their name here anyway --- kind of ruins the psuedonymous nature of the blog, no??

Let me describe the person we hired... along the way you'll see why I'm exicted this person will be permanent faculty.... even when it looks likely that I'll move on sooner or later -- I'm happy to leave Prof X on the faculty behin me...

Prof X is someone who charmed the committee from the start. They brought in an interesting artifact and used it to lead a discussion that was their teaching demonstration. During the discussion they asked basic questions and responded to our answers in such a way as to guide the lesson. We felt that prof X respected us and valued our input as learners.

Prof X is well-educated (I saw the transcripts, they have a PhD) but does not seem to think that BNCC is somehow beneath them. They seem to really love teaching students. We may manage to beat that out of poor Prof X in the next few years, but I have a feeling that they will be pretty resiliant.

Prof X has a love of philosophy and a love of students so strong that they started a philosophy club at their current CC. Stuffed-shirt candidate mentioned philosophy clubs as a way to connect with students, but I worried that he'd make it into a chance to pontificate. Prof X said that the students pick the topic and that they bring coffee and act as the intellectual bouncer, keeping the conversation on track. I have a feeling that this is the way Prof X's classes go as well, except that Prof X picks the topic.

Prof X, when asked about professional development had an answer that told us a couple of things, a) their graduate program didn't focus on teaching, but b) that they had taken advantage of opporutnities presented in the last year to improve their teaching. They went on to discuss these in some detail and with great enthusiasm. Prof X had to be prodded to mention that they had also become Dr. Prof X in the last year... it really HAD slipped their mind.

Prof X had great answers to the "how do you deal with different levels in the classroom" and "how do you deal with parts of the class not doing well" questions. Prof X's weakest answer was about technology, but it turns out that others had the same answer... and, in all reality, teaching philosophy works well with a white board -- and often not as well with PowerPoint.

Prof X also had excellent answers to the most rewarding experience question and the most challenging experience question. Both answers showed hoe much they love students and how they really reflect on teaching as an activity.

Prof X tried hard not to brown-nose us when asked about why they want to teach at BNCC. I also think that telling us that his family enjoys living in the area is different than the "I want to move to the area of BNCC" kinds of answers... his answer shows a lack of wanting to disrupt the family, while the others are looking for a reason to come here for personal or recreational/social reasons... we are just a convenient avenue.

Overall --- I want to congratulate Prof X on getting the job -- I can't wait to have you on campus and to work with you to build a good solid philosophy program. With Wise Woman, myself, logic guy and you we'll make a formidable team.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Teaching -- CC interview hints

At BNCC I've been on two hiring committees in two years. The process is both rewarding and challenging. It is kind of stressful and surely time consuming (although, other departments are doing MANY more interviews -- I can't even imagine when they'll make a decision... ).

Writing a resume for a CC is an art, explaining your love for teaching and demonstrating good teaching is much more difficult than listing CV lines for conferences and publications. That means you have to work harder at it and really understand a CC before you will be successful.

Once you have managed to communicate your love for teaching and landed an interview, let me make a few general suggestions...

1) pick a teaching demo that can be accomplished in the time alloted. Practice this demo, maybe make a handout and come with a plan to teach us something in that time.
2) the teaching demo isn't your time to put every philosophical concept to work. Only 2 of the 6 of us are philosophers, the rest just want to learn one concept from you and try to imagine what it would be like to be your student.
3) If you are an advocate of active learning and student involvement -- if you say you don't lecture, you help students discuss etc... show us that. Don't tell us several times how active your teaching style is and then ask us two simple questions... engage us.
4) Don't tell us that you want to come to BNCC because you love the location -- find some reason that you want to teach for US in particular... even if it means you have to poke around on our website until you find our mission statement and then work that into your answer.
5) When we ask questions about "poorly prepared students", don't assume we mean non-interested students. Many of our students are very interested but lack the educational background necessary to access our information. Be aware of this fact of life in our classrooms.
6) Do discuss ways in which you've been active in learning to be a better teacher, when asked about professional development. Telling us exclusively about the papers you've written and, acting like doing so with a 4/4 load is an act of heroism rings false to a girl who teaches a 5/5, coaches debate and is writing a dissertation..
7) Be enthusiastic and engaging when answering questions. Don't lecture us.
8) By all means avoid talking to us like we are somehow ignorant and inferior. Telling us that your grad program was top 20 and that your graduate instructors expected y'all to teach at Harvard leaves us with the impression that you think you are much smarter than we are. If you treat US that way, how are you going to treat your students?
9) We are looking at the entire interview as an indication of your personality and be aware that we are getting a pretty good idea as to how your students would feel in a 50 minute class. If you leave and we are energized, then you'll get the job -- if you leave and we are looking for the Starbucks card, you'll be applying elsewhere.
10) Don't settle for us -- we aren't looking for a tenure reject -- we want someone whose choice it is to teach at BNCC.

Life -- for the record...

1) chocloate bunny haunches taste better than the ears.
2) the tress are budding, my allergies are nuts and so are some of my students.
3) group presentations on porn and prostitution can be boring (my 9:30 class) or rowdy (my 4:00).
4) I think I love my 4:00 class more than I have loved any other class this year... last year's 11:00 logic class comes close.
5) Swear Jar has discovered that the term "semester" really means "year" to some administrators... he's going to have to fix their vocabulary faults before he can take over the world.
6) It was a GOOOOD day in the philosophy factory. More later when the person is notified -- suffice it to say that I got what I wanted!
7) 24 days left, total.
8) hubby had a good teaching day
9) Planning a trip to Colorado... anybody want to lend a couple of poor academics their multi-million dollar ski house for the summer? a month? a week?... ok, fine --- we'll rent a condo instead.....

Personal -- 10 years ago..

10 years ago this semester I finished my BA... Which means that as of next winter I'll have been a graduate student for 10 years.

It is time to be done--


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Writing -- plans..

I'm starting a new category... "writiing" -- which will discuss the prgress of my dissertation and the other stuff I need to do to become Dr. Philosophy Factory. When I presented this plan to my supervisor, he didn't laugh at me via e-mail...

The Plan looks like this:
1) Before the end of finals, proof-read area papers for history and metaphysics and submit. I'll then get feedback on them and see what happens...
2) While on vacation -- before June 1 -- finish prospectus and submit to area group. More important, have supervisor read and comment.
3) June and July 3 chapters...
4) August is moving time and then school starts -- with all the syllabi etc...
5) Chapters 4 & 5 done by December and job application deadlines...

This will allow me to reasonably claim, and have a letter from supervisor stating, that I could have the thing defended by fall 2007. This is ultra-important to be at all considered for tt job at either school.

In order to do so, I've got a plan to create time for me to finish...

A) Limit debate travel for fall to 4 trips -- budget will probably do this as well... so, no worries there.
B) Officially quit all outside committments, except debate and epistemology reading group we plan to start within the department. I've already explained this to dean -- (yesterday, when I told her about hubby's job.. more on that later..)
C) Asked for 3 credit release time for debate.. to be used in Spring -- probably... although, if it stays in the budget I might use it in the Fall to get the most done on dissertation...
D) Resolve to put the "I'm thinking in here, please don't disturb" sign out way more often than in the past.
E) Plan geed-fest vacation in the mountains (ski condos are cheap in May!) -- plan is to get away and do work in a beautiful location -- while sitting on the deck with laptop.
F) Resolve to ask hubby how poli sci people read books so fast and do so with a few I should read...

Professional -- the nature of me?

While I was in grad school, all I wanted to do was to teach. I thought the classroom was my space, and being at a "teaching college" was my gig. I got that full-time gig three years ago at BNCC. Maybe I got it too early, before my dissertation was done... before I'd written myself out -- before I came to the conclusion that the only people who read our crap are other philosophers and even then they don't understand it... so, writing whatever I was going to write wasn't going to change the world.

You see, after teaching 10 sections per semester for 5 years (2 elsewhere, 3 at BNCC) I'm kind of tired of teaching. It is the same old stuff over and over again... the students are the same, the problems and quesitons are usually the same (unless you have a class with the Russian in it.. then, nothing is the same) and the BS that comes from having a couple of hundred students doesn't change.

I'm also tired of the large classes at BNCC. They cause problems in many ways --- from not being able to learn student's names until closer to the end of the semester to not being able to really get to know both the high-performing and low-performing students to the problems caused by doing multiple-choice exams for philosophy (it should ALWAYS be papers..).

Those big classes also give excuses to bad teachers... and I have a hard time seeing what BNCC is doing to change the fact that some of their tenured profs can't teach. Going to "rate my profssors" is a sad experience, when a colleague has numerous negative reports and at least SOME of them must be true.

I miss the time and intellectual energy I used to have to work on my grad papers. I also miss the deadlines and other things that compelled me to write. I miss going to class -- and I miss doing homework... in short, I miss the intellectual challenge... because, the level of philosophy we are teaching at BNCC isn't intellectually challengeing... at least, the stuff I teach over and over again isn't. Maybe i need to sit in on a colleague's class next fall... maybe dog dad would let me -- we are peers in many ways.... or, maybe I need to register for a similar class somewhere in town that they don't know me...

Look at this -- I'm already finding ways to avoid the dissertation!

I would like my work life to look something like this...

Teach a couple of basic courses and one upper-division course. Write some articles and read some books. Be involved in college-life in terms of serving on committees outside the department, and NO DEBATE!

Resolved: I will do what is necessary to achieve my work life. The following are necessary to do so:
1) Dissertation, dissertation, dissertation --- maybe publish parts of it as smaller papers in the process??
2) Phase out of debate (former debate coach helps here, he's going to watch some rounds next year --- maybe travel with them a little??? maybe take-over at some point, sooner or later???????)
3) Departmental reading group... epistemology.... YEA!

those are the long-term goals (i.e. summer to November or so...).

Short-term goals: proof-read and submit area papers. As dog dad says, "the worst that will happen is that they'll say no and give you some reasons why, you can revise and re-submit". I'll do the initial proof read over the weekend and have them ready to send out by the end of next week. I swear I will... really...

Teaching -- spreading the news & a new plan...

So, today I've officially told my pals and my dean (who is also a pal) about hubby's job for next year.

My dean is so sweet, she looked like she was going to cry and told me she was happy for us, but also sad that my time at BNCC is limited. She really is a nice person and if I could take her with me to the flat state, together we'd wreak havoc with the old-boys networks...

I also told her that I wasn't going to do anything extra, except debate, next year... no committes to improve the quality of the lunchroom, no parking lot committees, no nothing... just debate travel and teaching.

The sad part of that is that I had to tell my pal, former debate coach, that I couldn't do his committee next year. I'd keep my committment for the summer, but that next year he'd have to find someone else. This is sad news because I love working with fomer debate coach, he spins a pen like good debters do--- and I really like working with the people on that committee. We are doing some nasty work (assessment planning...eeek, college-wide... double eek) but everyone is very nice about it. I've also gotten to know some really smart women due to the process -- I'll miss seeing them!

So --- the plan is to hit the ground running with my dissertation this summer -- hope for some momentum into the fall and see if I can't get it banged out to be more than just ideas in my head by the time interview season comes in flat state... if I can reasonably say that I'm heading for defense in Fall 07, I can be competitive for two of the three tt jobs coming up next year (the other is in metaphysics and phil mind... not my areas). Two are in ethics/political phil which are just up my area... and one of the ethics is ethics and epistemology, which I"m pretty ok with --.

The only extra stuff will be philosophical -- assuming dog dad will be at BNCC next year -- he wants to start a phil dept reading group -- which I think will be great, even if it is only the two of us...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Personal -- long-distance love advise


I can't be too specific -- but it looks like hubby will be taking a one-year job elsewhere next year. This job is kind of planned to morph into tenure track status when his dissertation is more or less done.

The job is at his undergraduate school in a city where we lived happily for many years. The department there really wants him to come -- and they keep making it a better deal for him. So good, that he really can't say no.

Of course, this puts us in an akward situation -- I have a good job, with (knock on wood) tenure at BNCC. I make pretty decent money and it will be hard to give it up. I'm also not done with my dissertation, and thus not very competitive on those merits for the three tenure track jobs that will be open next year (I've checked my sources, I taught adjunct down there while hubby finished undergrad and I finished grad classes).

My grad department pretty much said that -- even though I got NO support from them to do my coursework -- now that I'm DONE with my coursework, there is no reason for them to give me a TA position... aaak. So -- they have someone who is more likely to finish if given a lousy TA position, but they'd rather take a risk on some new kid -- nice.

I think we can use his new salary to put ourselves in pretty good financial shape --- paying off bills etc... so that in a year or two I'll be able to move down there no matter what the job situation is. I've been pretty much promised a course by his department (our fields are related) and they said that the philosophy department owes them, as they've been employing a spouse for the last three years or so...

We can also afford some airline tickets between -- or, drive if necessary... it is a 5-6 hour drive from here to there and our teaching schedules allow us decent weekend time.

I guess the thing is that I just know how much I'll miss him on a daily basis. It is nice to know that he's sleeping in the other room now, that sooner or later he'll get up and stumble out to his computer to check e-mail and that we'll have a more or less lazy Saturday together.

We've done the long-distance thing before... that time I did all the travel, as step-dad worked for an airline. I know from the person leaving side how hard it was to go --how much I just wanted to get back in my car and drive back to him once I got to the airport and how hard it was to say goodnight on the phone instead of in person --- and we were only dating at the time.

The rational side of me says that this is a good thing. My friends tell me that it is a good thing -- but, especially Dog Mom put it best, "you wish away the days until you can see him again" -- she knows, and will know that since her new hubby has to be here until December, she starts her new school on the east coast in September.

Wise Woman reported a different experience when she and her Sweet Baboo had to be separate so that she could teach... she said that, while they'd prefer to be together the being apart wasn't terrible. I marvel at the differences between her relationship and mine... she's been with SB much longer than I've been with hubby (almost as long as I've been alive! --), they can't get married (damm laws!) but probably wouldn't if they could -- they are both very independent... I know why WW is that way (hard childhoods do that to a person). Hubby and I aren't that way... sadly, it will be WW who sees me mope around the hallways next year missing hubby.

I feel kind of like a selfish-jerk being sad about this. It is great for hubby and as such great for me. It isn't like we are breaking up and he'll still be alive, just living in another town. We have good friends there as well as here -- so I know he won't be too lonely, and I'll have a support network up here. Hubby's Best Friend will be here to help with stupid shit... I'll give him an extra key to my car and to our apartment -- in case I do something dumb involving keys....

So ---- any advise? Ways to make it work? Things you've done that haven't worked etc??

If you are long-distance loving, how often do you see eachother? Do you plan to see one another and not do work -- or when you visit, do you bring work etc??

How and when do you talk / communicate when you are apart?

Are single moms the cure for sexism?

I woke up with an intersting idea this morning --

It seems that sexist attitudes are inherited -- from the sexist dad...

I think about this because I know several men who have been raised mostly by their mothers. Some are the result of death or divorce, others because their mother was single when they were born.

Among them, I don't see sexist attitudes -- in fact, I see respect for women and the tendency to treat women as peers. I like that, so that may be the reason I know so many of them :).

I think that there is a combination of reasons for this trend -- first, when women are your role-models, you tend not to discount their abilities. Second, when women have the power over you, you tend not to discount the possibility of a woman in charge. Third, heterosexist attitudes dissapear in these homes, at least in terms of "normal" gender roles for work around the house etc..

I also wonder if women who were raised primarily by their mothers are more likely to be new-feminists?

By "new-feminists" I don't mean a new group of radicals, rather a group of women like myself who take equality between the sexes as an assumed truth. We don't make a big deal out of fighting for equal rights, because for the most part we have them. We do fight about the parts of our society that are still unequal, but we tend not to see sexism behind every thing...

I was raised primarily by my mom -- my parents divorced while I was in elementary school, dad died when I was 13. Mom was re-married at the time, but step-dad was uninvolved... even working in Chicago while we lived in a Minneapolis suburb. He had kids from his first marriage to support --- and while he had a good job, the funds only go so far (his ex didn't work, still doesn't).

I grew up with a mom who was born in the 40s, was a teenager in the late 50s, early 60s and was married and pregnant by the late 60s (I was born December 68, Pam was born October 71). My mom was worried about raising two girls who respected themselves AND who were good people. She figured the rest would take care of itself....

What she also did was to teach us that hard work is important. I remember her telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be. I believed her -- although that set up quite a few years wondering what I DID want to be -- it seems that for now I've settled on teaching philosophy, which works :).

Friday, April 14, 2006


I have a nice teaching schedule... my teaching week goes from Monday at 4:00 to Thursday at 12:15 -- It is this way for debate so that I can travel without cancelling classes. The result is something like, you can teach a lot AND do this second job -- all for one salary. It is my choice, but tiring.

I was hoping that once I was done with debate, the schedule would actually BE nice. What I'm finding is that the other stuff fills in the days and I end up on-campus from Monday at 8:00AM to Thursday at 7:00 PM -- and often on Friday as well... .as a result, today is the first Friday I won't be travelling or on-campus since last fall.

I have a few things to do today...

1) Shop for Easter Basket stuff-- Target, some chocolate bunnies and other stuff... maybe I'll go to Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory for the goodies -- it will be all adults for Easter this year, we should have the good stuff!

2) Pick up pants the drycleaner lost before we went to Oregon. I found the tag and realized it would be handy to have them next week for interviews.

3) Pick up easter dinner from the honey baked ham store -- yep, I'm doing the buy a dinner option this year - less hassle and better food. Since it is at home, we also get the leftovers... YEA!

4) Pedicure and wax -- my brows are out of control and my feet look like goat's hooves.

Notice, none of those tasks include grading, papers or anything else!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Teaching -- no general theme today....

I had a pretty good day...

I'm on the final draft of my tenure portfolio -- 3 trips to Office Max and a lot of paper later, I might be able to convince them to keep me -- I know I've convinced myself. I have it home for a last review-- then it is gone.

Student X came in with his contract today -- I added specifics, we printed and signed... now it is all up to him.

We had a good interview for our new position--- a really good in-house candidate. Next week we'll see the out of towners... and then make a decision about who we should let into our bizarre little family.

Even more than before -- I'm going to miss Dog Mom next year... sigh... she's been very helpful about something I'll blog about later.. suffice it to say that I'll miss her a lot next year --- poor Hockey Chick & the Red Head will have to do extra duty...

and.. the song in my head "There are Pirates and Acrobats, and the're really the same thing:.

My lecture today on Rawls will be the last Intro to Philosophy lecture I give for a while. Good thing, I'm REALLY tired of it. From now on in that class my students will be presenting. Next fall I'll do Ethics (maybe only one, and an honors one at that..). Spring 07 has yet to be determined....

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Teaching -- student trouble update...

Cheater girl stopped by class today - quickly, then I think she remembered that she should drop and left again...

Student X dropped by today. We discussed academic habits and how this student has crappy ones. We will meet tomorrow after class to discuss their plan.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Teaching -- random news from the philosophy factory

A few things in no particular order...

I saw D2 doing logic with his class outside of my office window. Looked like he was helping a very cute girl -- go D2!

The Russian can't figure out why we might want to protect the defenseless in society... egads..

Swear Jar is working on a hostile takeover of student government... that's my boy! I got a "thank you" e-mail from their advisor, "cul-de-sac" --- thanking me for pointing out the error in an e-mail that declared Swear Jar's opponent the new student senate president, when that wasn't how I understood it. Cul-de-sac worded the e-mail like I'd somehow played Swear Jar like a puppet... what Cul-de-sac doesn't realize is that debaters actually think on their own once in a while..

The f-ing printer/copier was down today and requires service.... holding up both my expense report AND my portfolio.

Today is Rex's birthday-- 25... getting old! I'm still glad he didn't make the play (and thus was free to join debate).

Saw Herbie for the first time in a while... I don't know what he's up to recently, probaby hiding from me as he didn't make the debate with the Irish.

Student X left a note on my door today. It was nice and sweet, but I'm not sure they get it -- they have to formulate their own plan to get out of this hole. I gave the parameters in my initial e-mail and gave them again... we'll see if something comes of it. As it is, I'm getting unexpected support for showing the tough love and pulling them from the extracurricular activity.

Got the news that our pilot assessment project for the summer was funded. Now all we need to do is find a third faculty member to play with us and we are all set -- any volunteers :).

Our first interview is Wednesday -- dog dad -- I hope he does well, I'd love for him to become permanet faculty.... although I'm trying to be fair to all candidates. The next couple of weeks will be kind of hard, and the last three of the semester will be harder still if we don't hire him... He's not like the last one we didn't hire from within (i.e. he's qualified...).

I'm really hoping Timna gets her job -- her CC probably doesn't deserve someone as good as her...

Damm -- I'm going to miss Dog Mom next door... rumor has it that the asshat she's doing a sabbatical replacement for won't be back full-time, of his own choice. I'm also going to miss theater guy... the permanent lady isn't nearly so bright, innovative or level-headed. Come to think of it, I miss the sabbatical replacement for the humanites lady as well... sigh -- I know I shouldn't get attached to one-years, but we have the most in common and they are the most fun!

I wonder what is going on with the old hippie chick down the hall. People have become permanent subs in her classes and I have not heard exactly what is going on with her... I worry that she's not ok mentally...

The New Permanent Guy in our discipline is working out very well. I hope he's as happy as he's making us!

I need to start an end of school countdown on my calendar tomorrow...

Teaching -- today to do (updated)

Two main things ---

1) expense report from debate nationals and Irish visit -- this MUST be done today as the business office trolls will have a freak out session if my huge credit card bill isn't justified... (done, except for printer issue... aargh...)

2) Get my tenure portfolio to the nearly done stage (write the connecting materials to explain all the supporting stuff I've pulled from files, put it in order etc... i.e. up to putting it into the new notebook I'll buy tonight -- the first one I bought was too small!
(done... got a recycled notebook from dogmom -- done, except for the printer issue... aargh!).

To get this done I HAVE TO leave my office door closed and bring my lunch.

Domestic -- cats = no sleep

Last night one of our former debaters and forever debate children came over for West Wing and dinner. It was a good night, I'm sure we gave some good advise and generally acted in the quasi-parental role we've played with her...(good deal, no tuition payments, no money borrowed, someone who will probably wipe our chins in the home..).

At 11:00 PM, we kick he out... As we are going to sleep hubby remembers we haven't been over to visit the cat we are cat-sitting.... the decision was, do we go now or before work in the morning. Ellie is adorable, about 6 months old, and being left alone for the first extended period of her young life. Saturday night we spent several hours at Ellie's apartment, but she was alone for 24 hours...

Of course we got out of bed to visit Ellie --- we made sure she had food and played with her. We got home well after midnight (Ellie lives about 5 minutes from here... she got a good visit).

5:00 AM, Remington FREAKS OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He's a manx who is also almost completely blind due to cataracts. He gets lost, then he panics and starts to YELL. He did his freak out and yell routine in the doorway to our bedroom. Once I got up and placed him someplace familiar, he was fine. I could not go back to sleep.

Today is a long day for me -- I have to do expense reports and finish my tenure portfolio before I teach at 4:00. I'll just have to hit the coffee and tough it out. If I can get this done, I'll be in good shape.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Teaching -- weekend plans

So -- it does seem that I get stuff done if I make the list here --

1) get tenure portfolio in nearly done shape so it can be finished on Monday and turned in!

2) Grading jail with my Logic editorial analysis projects that sounded SOOOOO good when I assigned them.

3) dishes

4) fold the laundry

5) resist the urge to alternate napping like the cats and hopping around outside like the robins, it is spring you know.

6) call mom, see if she wants to go to CATS with us in May.

7) Take care of ellie -- friend's cat -- as friend is out of town (hubby and I will go over later tonight to spend time with the little dear, then see her someime on Sunday and Monday. Friend will be back on Tuesday).

8) Have an old debater over for a while Sunday... haven't seen her in quite a while and she'll be moving with Rex to a flat state in August.... I think that is sinking in for her.

Lots to do between now and Monday... so, what will I probably do next??? read some blogs --

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Teaching -- student blues update

Student A came to logic today ready to learn. Her "friend" did not. "Friend" was missing a quiz and my guess is that she'll drop the class. This is fine with me -- it eliminates the cheating problem.

Student X is silent -- we'll see. I have the support of big guy on this one, and I think I've earned his respect. I wish it didn't have to be that way, but at least I'm not losing political capital with him.

Several logic students have admitted they need help with the stuff -- GOOD. Keep both me and the tutor busy and I don't have to grade more craptastic quizzes later... I like this.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Teaching -- student blues

This is the tale of two students -- both of whom are disturbing --

Student A:
Student A has been at least two of my classes. This semester she's in my logic class and not doing great. It is often the case that students struggle with the material at this point in the course. What really bothered me was that she and her pal had the same mistakes on their exam...

The funny thing about logic is that if two students cheat and get the right answer, then they'll never get caught. In logic, the wrong answers are usually unique, the right answers uniform. I confronted Student A and "friend" about their exams. It became pretty clear what was happening -- as Student A began to cry and "friend" got cold and asked how to find the tutor (clearly, she figured out that from three seats away she could no longer cheat!). Sadly, Student A did a very poor job on the exam -- so I didn't need to fail them both. After "friend" went off to find the tutor, Student A told me that she was going to lie and say that "friend" had contributed to the project she did all on her own.

I don't think it is much of a coincidence that "friend" is friends with Voldemort from way back-- they are peas in a pod and richly deserve one another.

Student X
Student X has been in every course of mine, starting with the very first class I ever taught at BNCC Student X is smart, funny, charming and engaging. Student X also has a terrible pattern of preventing his own success. He makes the choice to slack-off during the semester and try to make-up at the end. I probably contributed to this problem when I let Student X do this in my class the first semester. X got a pretty low grade in this course -- but he passed.

Student X also took a couple of summer courses with me. The short summer courses and compressed time of the semester seemed to allow X to get decent grades before his innate-slacker took over. The fact that X felt he had something to prove to me after a signifcant boo boo in the spring semester might have helped keep him on track.

Then, X also got involved in one of my CC related projects --and I got to know him better. At this point, X is kind of like a friend, kind of a student and nearly a younger cousin or sibling... in some ways. In many ways X also has a pattern of being quasi-disrespectful and avoiding me when I have news he doesn't want to hear. I figured out how to work with X, and often write the behavior off to X's rough family situation -- as those behaviors are typical of a person in that situation.

This year, X got further involved in the activity (this is year 3 of the me/X relationship..). X lead me to believe that school was going well for him -- and when grades came back, that wasn't the case. It also turns out that X is familiar with this kind of trouble --

By this time X convinced me that, if only he could finish at BNCC, he could get things together. I went to a pretty decent amout of time, effort and stress about X and made a deal that got X back into school. I even helped X with tuition money--- and what does X do but not do the f-ing work in my class.

Correction... he does just enough to continue participation in the campus activity (I wouldn't let him continue without it)... and recently -- I even gave some un-warranted extensions on projects -- and he still wouldn't do the work. At this point X is failing -- and NOW he wants to talk about make-ups etc. This is after ignoring multiple messages and "nagging" -- sometimes eye rolls accompany the ignoring behavior.

I'm having a hard time with this because it seems like X is a monster of my own creation -- on the other hand, why should I let him pass on when he clearly doesn't have the work habits to survive where he wants to finish his degree? As it stands, I've left it up to X to devise a plan to pull his own cookies out of the fire. Clearly, he doesn' t think much of my syllabus etc -- as he won't condescend to do the work I assign -- so, I'll see what he comes up with.

The bottom line is that I've done much more worrying about X's academic life than he has. Those times are over -- it is time for him to prove that he actually has the skils and small amount of self-discipline necessary to pass my easy classes (truth be told, he's in trouble in the other one as well).

We'll see --- I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Teaching -- what "spare time"?

I thought that once debate was over (and, it is over... more than likely, at least) I'd have more time to get things done.. that isn't turning out to be the case.

After a surprise (to me) assessment committee meeting today--- I'm already behind,

For example, tomrrow: major to dos.....
1) write letter of rec for fomer debater -- ASAFP -- deadline is Monday.
2) write article about teaching circle -- due tomrrow --
3) meet w/ hiring committee--- important meeting. (12-1)
4) Get ready for class (gasp... I teach too?? I thought "faculty" was defined as "person who goes to endless meetings"
5) sort out and clean my office etc...
6) meet with two students who "don't get" logic -- at least they are coming to me... I secretly (or, not so secretly) wish they'd go to the tutor instead.

All of that -- and it is a pretty short day-- 3 meetings and 1 class to teach on Kant (at least I can do that from my own knowledge...

Part two -- the Irish Debaters

In short, it was a blast ---

We went to an NBA game and got them to "the mall" for some worship of capitalism...

The event was fantastic. 8 passionate speeches pro and con on a topic that has caused some ruckus on our small and bland campus. The person who started the ruckus was there, as were the college president, at least two VPs (the third big guy was really sad he couldn't be there... he'd have liked it the most) and the dean of multi-cultural affairs. My debaters did very well, showing humor and good arguments in about equal measure -- and we deftly demonstrated the reason we should have a debate team on campus.

and.. there were no riots, we had people there (despite no press releases) and some important messages were sent.

The best part of the night (other than the celebratory dinner afterward) was that the house was divided 23/22 -- demonstrating that both sides did very well, and that this is really was a controversial topic.

I suppose an equally good thing was that D2's family was there to see him speak. D2's aunt is a wonderful person who first hired me to coach debate the first year here -- and, more or less accidentally, gave me the insipiration to start the team at BNCC... I'm glad her nephew got the benefit of her hard work... as the program at her school is kaput.

As I watched D2 debate, I couldn't help remembering the talented but un-developed debater he was last May. To think that last night was the last time I'll see him debate is pretty sad. He's smart, principled and articulate. I really hope he's not done debating, but even if he is -- I think that debate has improved him such that he won't let his newly improved skills go to waste. He's going to do something amazing -- either in public or private -- and I'll be happy that I "badgered" him into joing my team...

now, all I have to do is to recruit more like him--- hmmmm, a new challenge.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Irish Debaters..

So, in some fit of wanting to impress the administration -- I invited the Irish Times National Champions to visit campus after the big nationals... of course, if I could have read a calendar I'd have realized that their visit coincided with the first weekend I should have had off for a while... duh...

Now I'm waiting for them to call from the airport. I'll pick them up, go to the mall for lunch and then to an NBA game and home to our place for dinner... and, what is hubby doing??? curling... Sadly, my debaters are all working today -- so they can't do the NBA game with them -- although some would love to (Rex is a sports nut...).

Tomorrow they'll do two debates on campus about a recently controversial issue -- (can't say more --don't want the hate mail or to absolutely confirm my ID).

I'm really looking forward to the end of this hassle -- The Irish will be fine, my campus is in a mini-uproar... Suffice it to say that one faculty member (the original trouble maker) wants to make more trouble at the event -- has notified the media and a whole bunch of othe stuff... has called me "spineless" in an e-mail "accidentally" sent to me and not a pal --- all in an attempt to get me to support her in what I thought was a terribly tacky and mean thing to do in the first place. I won't do it... period -- I refuse to insult my students that way... (think Europe and potentially offensive drawn political commentary to get the basic issue...) -- now think about a faculty member posting those drawings on a hallway bulleting board... and wanting me to handout copies of that same drawring at the events ---

On top of it all, the president of the college will be coming back early from a conference to see the event. He'll be giving opening remarks etc--- all in the couple of weeks before my tenure review..... aaaaaarghhhhhhhhh.

wish me well -- I'd like to strike a happy balance between nobody there but us and a riot.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Teaching -- "college material"

Over at Confessions of a Community College Dean (sorry, no link, I have no skills..) there is a running discussion about the amount of time typical students work and the impact that has on their school work.

The basic problem is that if they actually DO all of the work and work their full-time schedules it is something like an 85 hour work week. Since a traditional college curriculum assumes that a student is working part-time at most, the question is whether or not the curriculum should change to adapt to the students?

First of all -- I guess I don't find this to be a new phenomenon. I started my BA in 1987, finished it in 1996 -- with some time off in the middle to get married and actually figure out that I wanted to finish... When I started, I was a manager at McDondalds -- when I finished I worked full-time for a beauty supply company. If I had a week in which I worked less than 35 hours it was a fluke or a holiday. This included summer -- when I took a full class schedule. In talking to my 87 year old grandfather, he did something similar to finish college - he worked in the cafeteria and worked overnight in the dairy -- he had little time for sleep or dorm conversations etc... The reasons for both of our hard-work are similar -- college and living costs were beyond the means of our parents.

It occurs to me that the generation that had it easy were the boomers -- their parents could afford to help them, or they could work enough to pay for school AND have time to relax -- because their generation was in the process of driving tuition up, it hadn't happened yet! My mom's generation was pretty lucky, as their parents had made some gains in the 1950s, and tuition was still reasonable.

So -- the problem is what to do now...

My advise is not to take more than you are sure you can handle and do well. It may take you longer to finish, it may be frustrating because you aren't fititng into some mold cast by the boomers of a 4-year degree completed in 4 years - so what? Their generation was all about breaking the mold -- so why do current students think they need to follow that path?

If a student needs a set of skills to get a job and pay the rent, then they have a strong economic incentive to get finished -- at that point, student loands and cutting spending seems to be the way to go... but, if the student can currently pay the bills and wants to be educated, then only taking a class or two at a time seems to be sensible...

I worry that we'll shape our curriculum to our students in such a way as to take out what is challenging. Every year I have to resist adusting my class away from the hard concepts and assignments. If we all give in to this temptation, then that knowledge will actually BE lost -- and that really scares me.