If I am not mistaken, I have not posted since June. I have had a long summer and it involved a lot of travel for work. If there were a time that underscores the upside-down-ness of my affiliation with academia, it would be my summers. Don’t get me wrong, an administrative position in a organization dedicated to higher education housed in an institution of higher learning is slightly bottom side up all year round, but the summers… The only remotely summery feeling I get is that I don’t have to dress as professionally as I do during the Fall and Spring terms. Starting in April, I am up to my eyeballs in conference planning. Then I spend May – August pulling them off, which involves traveling to them. I am getting very good at picking people up at the airport and then returning them there at the appointed time.
But, this is not a What I Did Over My Summer Vacation report. (Partly because I really didn’t have one.) No, the semester is beginning – classes begin Tuesday! – and I am teaching a Freshmen Gen Ed course again this term. I am excited to get back to the classroom and to teach this class for a second time. The first was such a new experience on so many levels, I often felt I was barely keeping my head above water all semester long. It was fun and exciting and I think my students made it through the chaos fairly well, but I am glad I will have some past experience from which to draw this time.
This week I have gotten a chance to be a “faculty member” albeit an adjunct faculty. Today I joined the larger faculty workshop and heard about the futures of MOOCs. Apparently the bubble hasn’t burst just yet on them. Neither has the use of business language when discussing the future of higher education. Earlier in the week, I sat through two-days of workshops for this Freshmen course and we talked about learning outcomes, rubrics, and writing assessments. Sadly we have agreed to require MLA formatting for all writing assignments. I don’t want to get into any arguments about style manuals, but frankly Chicago Manual of Style is far superior. But, I was a part of a conversation with other teachers about teaching and learning. It was a wonderful two days, where I could draw straight lines between my work and, well, the learning outcomes. That is one of the wrinkles with administrative work – it is harder to see the connections. They are there, but you have to look at the world differently and think creatively about your place in the universe. I mean University.
And while I was off playing – because it must be play, for I had such fun – my day job was still waiting for me. And here is something that is not foreign to anyone juggling personal interests and work responsibilities – I had to return to my office and tackle my administrative tasks. Faculty members – you know the ones with full time positions on their way or already with tenure – have menial tasks or at the very least stuff they don’t like doing. They will, like I will, spend their weekends preparing for their classes, setting up their Blackboards, maybe doing their own scholarly work (I have copy-edits for my book to go through!), and possibly, if there is time, vacuuming their carpets and hang out with family. Maybe.