Not in the Easter spirit Wednesday, Dec 20 2006 

So, I’m planning my syllabus for next year’s research methods subject and I have run into the same problem that has affected me for the past couple of years – Easter.

TLU starts its mid-semester break on Good Friday. Because I have scheduled my lectures for the subject on Fridays for the past couple of years (because it’s the easiest day to get a good lecture room), I have to cancel a lecture. So far, no big deal – the same thing used to happen when I had Monday lectures. What makes Easter more of a problem is that it moves every year. The semester starts at roughly the same time each year, but Easter and the break can come after anything between from four and nine weeks of classes.

This is especially difficult for the research subject, because the topics follow a step-by-step progression and lead the students through doing the work on their major assignment. Because Easter is in early April next year, we’ll break a couple of weeks earlier than this year. This is making it very difficult to find a way that I can (i) set extra reading to make up for the week without lectures, and (ii) get them to a point where I can say I expect them to make progress on their research report over the break. I am trying to find a way to move some topics around, but I have to avoid rushing through the concepts that are the foundation for everything that comes after.

So while Midsummer and the Christmas holidays are just a few days away, it’s Easter that’s on my mind at the moment.


Teaching Carnival 16 Saturday, Nov 18 2006 

Teaching Carnival 16 is up at Ancarett’s Abode – and no, I still haven’t caught up on the last one.

Thank you Wednesday, Nov 8 2006 

I have had an all-too-infrequent moment of acknowledgment from one of my students. This student is finishing her undergraduate degree this year and leaving to study medicine in another state. She has been one of the most pleasant students I have ever had to teach – smart, dedicated, engaged with the material, and nice – so when I needed to employ a research assistant this year she was the obvious choice.

This week, she has gone around the department and saif her goodbyes and given gifts to those who helped her along the way. I received a very spiffy Italian tie and a card that contained a lovely personal message. It’s incredibly rewarding to have a student give a genuine and meaningful acknowledgment that I have had an impact on their life. A lot of my colleagues have been talking about the lack of gratitude or even recognition of the assistance we provide – it seems that a “thank you” reply after we answer their questions is becoming an endangered species.

So, to all of those students who take the time to let their teachers know that their efforts are noticed and appreciated, I want to thank you as well.

Time to stablilise Monday, Nov 6 2006 

So I’ve spent the last week catching up on the week before, and I think I am almost on track. Some of my research students will be submitting theses this week, which means I have fewer drafts to read and last-minute advice to dispense. It’s not as though I am not incredibly busy now, but I should at least have some autonomy in allocating my time, where the past week has been entirely driven by the arrival of deadlines.

To compensate, I am spending the morning developing an idea for a new subject I want to teach next year. We instituted the concept of a readings subject a while back that allowed staff to offer a semester of readings on a topic of their own choosing. And, as a reward for being the one who put forward the idea of this subject, I have been made responsible for organising it. Unfortunately, because the practical implementation does not match the vision of the subject, nobody has offered a topic to date (although I have one other expression of interest for next year). Since I do not get to spend more than a week or two in any given subject on my main research area, I am going to help myself out by volunteering to teach the subject. This means I can spend the morning mulling over the literature in my own area and pick out the readings I want to introduce to students. All the other stuff can wait until this afternoon.

Teaching Carnival XV Friday, Nov 3 2006 

New Kid on the Hallway is hosting Teaching Carnival #15. I suspect I’m not going to get near this at the moment because there is too much, you know, teaching and stuff happening around here right now, but from a quick scan I can see oodles of things that resonate with me.