Archive for the 'Educational Commentary' Category

That Pivotal Moment

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

There is a pivotal moment as a researcher studies the article search results in front of him/her.  Some articles are “just what I was looking for,” but then you see one…and it stands out at you in a completely metacognitively 3-dimensional way:  the ONE that will change your perspective.  The research hesitates:  knowing that this is the game-changer.  It is almost a scary moment, but it is also exciting.  S/he clicks on the *.pdf, and everything shifts.  What a privilege it is.

Love’it, Love’it, Love’it

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Here I am, just 15 minutes from starting my lesson for this evening’s Summer course.  Nearly 20 students, almost always showing up each class, all prepared to learn–and perhaps (I hope!) enjoy themselves in the process.  Imagine that–a class that meets during the Summer, late into the night, and they want to be here (and so does the instructor!).

No matter how tired I might be, when I start an evening class (especially in the Summer, it seems), I am so energized. 

I love my job.  Love’it  ;0)

“Completion” vs. “Effort”

Friday, July 1st, 2011

At times it is valuable to grade something based on student participation.  There is a great difference in the average result, though, when you tell students an assignment will be graded on “completion” versus graded on “effort.”  Many students tend to believe that completion means “turned in the paper.”  However, they have a very good grasp on the concept of “effort.”

A mid-range approach to this is to grade on CORRECTNESS but offer PARTIAL CREDIT on effort shown.  That usually gives you the flexibility to address a number of issues associated with homework, &tc.

My First College Graduation as a Full-Time Professor

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Tuesday evening I experienced my very first graduation here at the College (and, more importantly, my first graduation as a full-time instructor).  I found myself surrounded by joyful peers of all age groups and backgrounds, excited students (also wonderfully diverse), and a feeling of glee that I didn’t expect to experience.  At times I couldn’t help but laugh–it was such an enjoyable feeling.  I finally felt the “I’ve made it” jubilation of being a teacher in my dream job.  I was surrounded by some old friends, and some new ones, and many others whom I’ve not really gotten to know yet but who all seem to share the same sense of happiness that they work in a great place, are able to enjoy themselves as professionals and colleagues, and share also a feeling of family.

Today we held our Employee Recognition day (at the upstate campus).  Once again, I saw the cohesiveness of my new professional family.  Of all the places a person could choose to work, I’m very happy to be part of this group.  I feel that I can help accomplish great things working alongside of and with them.

[Note:  For this and future blog posts, I am not going to specifically name the College in my posts.  It’s of course obvious where I work, but since I try to be as non-specific about PEOPLE I may as well carry that over to PLACES, too].

My First Week as a Full-Time College Professor

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Well, “Instructor,” I suppose, but Professor does have a nice ring to it  ;0)

This is the end of my very first week as a full time instructor here at the College.  I have spent the time getting to know the campus (even better than before), meeting my new College Family, hacking out some Physics problems, preparing for advisorial duties, learning the ins-and-outs of the system, and many other duties (and paperwork). 

I am surprised at how soon I have come to “fit in,” here.  It has been an almost seamless transition.  Part of that probably has to do with the fact that I was a student here years ago…and that I already know a number of people here…and that I have been adjuncting for 3 years prior to this.  Another part of it is the friendly atmosphere, the chance to start work over what would normally be Spring Break, and my helpful Teammates. 

My current office will be moved out of anywhere from next month to possibly September.  I am preparing for the close of my current Spring class, and the start of my Summer course.  I have a lot of preparation-time lined up for the equipment (labs to write!), and there are a number of Energy projects going on around the campus.  Just this Wednesday a colleague and I installed a set of solar panels on the roof of one of the large sheds on campus.  This was the first of many projects I will no doubt be active with. 

This is an exciting time.  Many things have changed, and I am still mentally catching up with my new schedule and surroundings.  One thing is certain, though:  I am happy.  This is a job where my skills and background will be fully utilized, and where I can grow continually.  Those around me both teach me AND learn from me, daily.  I love that give-and-take dynamic.

My Last Day as a High School Teacher

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

These blog posts are difficult to categorize.  Do they belong in Educational or Personal commentary? 

Today is my last day as a high school instructor.  I don’t know if I will ever really get time to reflect on the change with the depth it deserves, but I will say that I will miss my students (and of course my wonderful peers).  I’m more emotionally self-aware today than usual.  This is the day when you hug people you didn’t even have the opportunity to shake hands with before, and when you pay much closer attention to the small details.  Everyone has been wishing me well in their own ways.  The very first friend I ever made in the school district got me a cake with a large Sun on it (in honor of my solar energy pursuits at the College!)  She is sending me a picture of it, and I will post it online at some point.  :0)  It was very touching, and I appreciated the opportunity to say goodbye to some of my closest Science Department friends.

No doubt when I get the chance to “stop and catch my breath” (does that ever actually happen?) I will wax nostalgic again.

Enjoy Grading Tests: Am I Sick?

Friday, April 15th, 2011

I actually go through periods of time when I enjoy grading tests–does this qualify me as being infirmed?  haha

Recently my students (both high school and college) have been doing especially well (on average) on their tests.  Sometimes I look at a grade and think, “So and so is really going to be happy to see that they earned THIS grade!”  It gives me a lot of satisfaction to see good grades on tests. 

A side note:  This is my last Friday as a high school teacher.  The students are meeting my replacement instructor next Wednesday and Thursday (I promised them a “party” of sorts–the perfect opportunity to get to know the new instructor).  I have been putting together materials and notes for the remainder of the school year.  I am very pleased with how far in content my students got so far this year.  We have actually gotten further prior to Spring Break this year than in previous years (and apparently they are getting it, if test grades prove anything).

End-of-Day bell shorter than Start-of-Day bell

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

My colleagues and I at the high school hear an extremely long (4 to 5 second) bell at the start of each day.  However, when the students are to be dismissed, the bell starts and then cuts off (after a fraction of a second).  Many times we are left wondering if it even sounded off  ;0)

Just a funny case where reality reflects what could otherwise be considered work-day paranoia (if that is the appropriate word).

Every Day Feels Like Friday?

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

In school each day, now, every day feels like a Friday.  The students are ready for Spring Break (and my few Seniors are already talking about Graduation as if it were next week).  I am glad that I outlined this month completely for the students–it has helped to keep everyone on track in anticipation of the week off. 

A point of interest:  I have made my last photocopy for pre-Spring Break work.  I do have to make photocopies of certain activities and notes for my replacement (who, I am happy to say, seems to have a strong Physics background). 

This Saturday I plan to come in to the school in order to gather up my personal effects and some keep-sakes.  The last class with my students next week I have promised them a movie and they may bring in some snacks if they wish.  My replacement will also be coming in to meet the students.  I am so happy for that opportunity:  it will ease the transition and I can also talk to him about the resources which I have prepared for the remainder of the school year.

Recycling stick-it-notes

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Here near the start of Spring Break, Stick-it-Notes are hard to come by.  I have taken to re-using them.  (I am a much greater advocate for Re-use than Re-cycling, by the way).  It would help if people who sent me notes would write in one quadrant instead of smack-dab in the middle of the stick-it-note…but I can handle it  ;0)