Thursday, August 14, 2014

In the Middle

It looms. My first semester as a professor starts in ten days. TEN DAYS!! Very exciting, and daunting. The past three weeks have gone something like this:

- Wake up between 6:00 and 6:30
- Run 3-4 miles
- Pack/unpack/clean OR campus for teaching prep
- Run errands
- Leisurely dinner at home, with wine
- Re-watch Frasier (we're currently on Season 5)
- Bed by 10:00

Oh, what a lovely break it has been. I have worked consistently throughout, by editing manuscript drafts and submitting one to a new journal, as well as keeping up with email and conference calls. But I don't have a strict schedule, or hard deadlines for these projects. I even managed to spend an afternoon at the park and public pool just around the corner from my new residence. It has been a marvelous interlude. (Although interestingly, I haven't noticed feeling more rested in the mornings. Something to investigate.)

And then, there is the semester. Like many new assistant professors in the sciences, I have spent the past two years focused almost entirely on research. There was some clinical work, in the context of a research trial, and several guest lectures in classrooms and training seminars. The year before that, I was on clinical internship (i.e., full-time clinical work), with a part-time research elective mixed in. But the last time I prepared a syllabus and coordinated online learning management was more than three years ago. (And the online system is one I've never used.) Plus, I didn't have TAs back then. TAs at my new institution are advanced undergraduates who volunteer their time; although having assistance will be lovely, there is a lot of management to do, including learning what I can and cannot expect them to do for me.

As emails flood in about orientation schedules and start-of-semester events, there's also the anticipatory concern about effectively managing my time.* I'm at a primarily undergraduate institution with a emphases on teaching AND getting students involved in research. (Oh yeah, and keeping up my own scholarly pursuits.) Sounds great, but getting the latter set up is slow going. I started the process of acquiring equipment for my lab in May, and I only just received the purchase request for my computers. I can set up online studies, of course, pending IRB approval. When might I be able to start running live participants? Your guess is as good as mine.

In terms of teaching, I've slowly chipped away at course prep since the beginning of June. So where am I now, ten days before classes start? 

- Syllabi = 90% set; I still need learning objectives and a final reading list
- First two weeks of lecture slides = 85% complete
- Classroom activities = ....
- Online course coordination = ....
- TA management = in progress
- IRB applications = figuring out the process is first

There is a lot to do. I have no doubt that I will get it done, but my beloved "break" is officially over. I'll be excited to see you, Summer 2015.

*Incidentally, no one has ever been as excited as I am to get a dual monitor setup! More to come on this.

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