May 23, 2013, 8:00 am
Whether your summer plans involve writing, teaching, travel, or relaxing, we’ve got something in the ProfHacker archives to help.
Plan Your Time: Anastasia points out that we often fall prey to an illusion of an “Endless” Summer and suggests that “more unscheduled time or perceived freedom can be dangerous, with the temptation of grandiose planning and over-commitment.” Last summer she experimented with an alternative calendar app to help plan her summer.
In Summerproofing Your to-Do List, Jason usefully warns that
It can be very easy to reach August with May’s goals largely untouched. This is perhaps especially true when you’re not teaching
Jason lists several task manager tools and approaches in his post, pointing out that it’s worth spending time now to set up whatever system you’ll use to track your summer goals and actions. In Get the Most From Summer With Well-Made Deadlines,…
March 27, 2013, 11:00 am
A couple of weeks ago, Jason and I were getting ready to give a talk about ten things academe won’t tell you. (Yes, ProfHackers are available to come and talk at your campus. Call now, operators are standing by!) Right before we started, Jason took his jacket off, unbuttoned his cuffs, and rolled up his sleeves. My immediate response was, “You do that too?!”
You see, I often start my classes by rolling up my own sleeves. I do this in part because I find it more comfortable when I’m teaching. But it’s also done with the intention of letting my students know that I’m ready to get to work for the next 50 to 75 minutes. In fact, I like this gesture so much that I’ve been known to roll my sleeves back down after that class and then roll them up again at the start of the next. Of course, I don’t know if this gesture is something that the students notice or interpret in the way that I would …
January 24, 2013, 8:00 am
Do you ever find yourself looking at your calendar of upcoming events and wondering why you ever agreed to do one of them?
Whether it’s a professional obligation, a service commitment, or a social event, many of us say yes without really taking the time to evaluate whether that’s the right response.
Too Many Commitments, Not Enough Time
If you say yes to everything, you’ll very quickly become overwhelmed. This is true for anyone, but many academics struggle with this for two main reasons:
Some parts of your schedule are flexible and some are not. Classes or meetings that are held at set times are firm commitments that can’t be modified. But other research and service obligations may have more flexibility, which can actually be harder to allot time for.
Many academic commitments are hidden or variable. In addition to balancing research, teaching, and service commitments…
January 16, 2013, 11:00 am
Recently, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about shame. Some of this comes from the Freakonomics podcast, which I’ve become enamored of. (If you’re looking for something to listen to, ProfHacker readers have previously chimed in about their favorite podcasts.) An episode from January 2012 discussed the problem of hand-washing among doctors who—contrary to what one might guess—tend to have the worst hand hygiene practices at hospitals. The solution to the problem: shame. Public announcements of those who have not been following hand sanitation procedures at staff meetings led to a dramatic increase of hand-washing at L.A.’s Cedars Sinai Medical Center. Shame, as the Freakonomics team likes to point out, is a tremendous incentive to change behavior.
Changing behavior is also something that my wife and I have been thinking about: specifically that of our children during dinner time….
December 13, 2012, 11:00 am
Poll Everywhere is an online service that allows you to poll an audience through text-messaging. The polling mechanism is quite simple (and therefore easy for audiences to use): every answer in your poll has a unique number, and audience members text that number to Poll Everywhere’s 6-digit short code. The real magic occurs next, as you and your audience watch the results roll in, live.
I’ve been saying “audience,” but what I really have in mind is “students.” You ask your students a question, they respond, and the results appear instantly and anonymously. The survey graphs dynamically resize themselves according to the latest results, which is quite fun to watch as a group. Pedagogically-speaking, Poll Everywhere is similar to clickers in the classroom, but it uses technology most students already have—their cell phones. From the professor’s perspective all it…
December 11, 2012, 8:00 am
For all the pleasures of teaching, grading is not one of them. We have a bunch of ProfHacker posts about this, and also a number of ways to make your grading process better or help you change the way you think about grading. I want to propose one more idea.
If it takes me on average 30–45 minutes to grade a research paper, only a small amount of that time is spent evaluating the student’s work in the sense of assigning a grade. I know the final grade of the paper with a high degree of certainty in about 5 minutes. It helps that I’ve read first drafts and discussed them in conferences with the students, and it helps that I’ve adopted Brian’s idea of giving only As, Bs, Cs, etc. (or in my case, As, high Bs, low Bs, Cs, etc.). But I suspect that most other teachers can give a ballpark grade very soon after starting to read a paper.
The implication is that for the remaining 25 to 40 …
December 6, 2012, 11:00 am
I don’t know very many academics who look forward to grading. In fact, you don’t have to look too far this time of year to find someone complaining, procrastinating, or dreading it. Understanding what drives your own grading behavior can help you adjust it to make this time of semester more pleasant and productive.
1. Grading overloads your already full schedule.
Most academics I’ve talked to experience grading as an extra burden on their already full schedules of teaching, research, and administrative or service duties. If your days (and sometimes nights) are already filled with professional commitments, it can be really difficult to find quality time and energy to give to grading.
Since you do usually know when to expect this extra workload, it’s really helpful to plan for it by consciously adjusting your schedule. Maybe that means blocking out six to ten hours on your…
November 28, 2012, 3:04 pm
As one semester or quarter is coming to a close, a ProfHacker’s s thoughts inevitably turn to the next. Unless that ProfHacker is a Chair or Director of Undergraduate Studies who is responsible for planning the courses and schedules for the entire following academic year.
As a new, alt-ac faculty member in my department, I’ve recently become acquainted with how we go about this scheduling process. The DUS sends out a Word document as an attachment with six questions, ranging from asking about which core course the faculty member would prefer to teach, to graduate seminars, and the preferred time slots in which that teaching will happen. Faculty members type up their responses on the form and then return them electronically or printed out to the DUS, who then gets to work planning the schedule.
Someone in our department recently suggested that there could be a more efficient way…
September 26, 2012, 11:00 am
Last Wednesday I had a few students drop in during my office hours. I spent about half an hour talking with each one about their papers, which were due yesterday. With each student, we focused on some specific issues that were in their writing, looking at how to eliminate them from the paper and to make their writing generally more clear. At the end of ninety minutes or so, I found myself feeling pretty good about the teaching that I’d been able to do but also musing on the fact that more students do not take advantage of my office hours, digital or otherwise.
Wanting to encourage more students to use office hours, I began the next class asking how many of them had ever had private writing instruction. Unsurprisingly, none of them raised their hands. As college freshmen, their experiences learning to write thus far have been in classrooms of 30 or so students, where the teacher…
August 28, 2012, 8:00 am
The first week of the fall semester is an especially charged time. There are all the practical, logistical, technological things to deal with, like changed classroom assignments, projector equipment malfunctions, and photocopier breakdowns. You might not have gotten enough sleep, and your routine just changed. But in addition, almost everyone’s emotional reactions are a bit amplified right now. Some of the emotions I’ve observed or experienced, both as a student and as faculty, during the first week include:
- Anticipation: Who’s going to be in my classes? How will things go this term?
- Regret: I wish it was still summer. I wish I’d worn something different. I wish I’d read the books already.
- Happiness: I’m glad to see my friends again. I’m glad to be at school again. I’m glad to be doing this work.
- Nervousness: Where is my classroom? What will my teachers/students/colleagues…