Fall preview

August 1, 2008, 10:31 am

It’s August, which means the start of school is just around the corner. The public schools and my kids’ preschool start on August 11. Classes start for me on August 26, but there’s a run-up of meetings and other activities that consume the entire week prior to that. With all this stuff about to commence, here’s an overview of what’s on the plate this fall. I don’t blog about what’s going on at work or what my students do, but I do use CO9s to flesh out thoughts or experiences I have about what I’m doing. So this should give some context.

  • Teaching two sections of calculus. Although I didn’t blog much about it, I taught calculus in an 8-week evening format this summer and I thought it went very well. I was running the class with an eye towards reusability; I’m hopeful that I can reuse all the stuff that I prepped during the summer for my fall courses so that my energy can be devoted to teaching and grading and not so much on prepping.
  • Teaching my sophomore course on Methods of Problem Solving. This will be the eighth running of this course since I first designed it back in 2001, and frankly I’ve never quite gotten it to where I want it. I am breaking with my usual form and using a textbook this time around and doing a few other different things to try and be more effective with a very difficult pedagogical problem: how to teach students who have been immersed in a basic calculus course for a year and who tend to think of math in terms of calculus exercises how to experiment, conjecture, and prove theorems.
  • Teaching my upper-level course on Geometry. Actually I have a lot in store for geometry in general, and if it works out I will blog some more about that separately.
  • Being chair of the Promotion and Tenure Committee this year, which is a huge responsibility — although we have a lighter-than-usual load of faculty coming up for tenure or promotion this year for whatever reason.
  • Continuing to direct our new dual-degree engineering program. This program has generated a lot of buzz, but since it’s not a major on campus, I really don’t know how many actual students it’s going to attract. But regardless of population, this programs gotten me to think a lot about how engineering and the liberal arts interact.

And of course there’s a thousand little things that are always on the task list, but that’s life in academia.

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