Ten Things of Thankful: The New School Year Edition

The first week of school has been great, so I thought I’d dedicate most of this week’s Ten Things of Thankful post to the good things about the beginning of the new school year.

Without further ado, I am thankful:

  1. for getting a new teaching schedule the week before classes started. Even though it’s been “interesting” trying to prep for a new course, it is so worth it.
  2. …that I now have six classes instead of seven.
  3. …that I won’t have a variable schedule this year. I teach the same six courses next semester. (For those of you who didn’t see my post about the first day of school, most courses actually run across both semesters. They are typically two semester hours–though I did get one three credit one, which is what has made all the difference in the benefits of my new schedule.)
  4. …that even though I was originally given OLD information about new (to me) course, the syllabus, and even the book, I have it all sorted out now. And it turns out that my intuition about how to start the class for the first week was right on target. WHEW!  🙂
  5. …for the amazing students in my classes. Every single class started out well. I was able to engage students and to get them involved in first day activities with no problems. (OK, the one 8:00 writing class was a little sluggish, but I can’t get the department to understand that students already aren’t keen on writing in a second, and that when you put it at 8:00 in the morning, I have to really put on a show to keep them awake, let alone engaged. Luckily, I’m pretty good at putting on a show.) And I’m thankful . . .
  6. …that I only have one 8:00 class this year. I have had two days with 8:00 classes for last two years, so this development is pretty awesome.
  7. …for my colleagues who support me in various ways, but especially for Justin, whose willingness to trade writing classes with me (and give up a four-day weekend in the process!) enabled me to get this new awesome schedule. Thanks, Justin! You are awesome.
  8. …that I was able to figure out a CURVES schedule that works with the new teaching schedule. Especially, since the last time I weighed in and got measured, all my numbers were moving in the right direction. In ten months time, I’ve lost 30 pounds! (13 kilos!)
  9. …that I am feeling like myself again, and that I can immerse myself in the teaching experience.
  10. …that I have this place where I can share all my good news with all of you wonderful people. 

241 days til 60!

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If We Were Having Coffee: First Day of School Edition

admin-ajax.phpIf we were having coffee . . .

I’d tell you that the first day of classes at our university is actually tomorrow, but I’m pretty sure there won’t be time to chat with you tomorrow. So I’m happy to have this time with you now.

I’d also warn you that I have a lot to say about my teaching schedule and how things work at our university, since I’ve never really told you much about it before.

If we were having coffee . . .

I’d tell you that my schedule of courses went through quite a shift on Friday.  I have to scramble a bit, but overall I’m pleased with the new schedule. It’s much more interesting (and challenging) than the one I had before Friday, even though I’ve spent part of the weekend prepping for the first meeting of a class I haven’t taught before.

If we were having coffee . . .

I’m actually happy about going back to classes, when it was only a couple weeks ago when I wasn’t so sure about whether I’d have enough energy, and ideas, and motivation, and patience. I am so grateful that things came together for me in time.

If we were having coffee . . .

I’d respond to your question about what I am teaching this year. I’d tell you that my 13 credit hours of classes are spread out over three days–Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and I’m teaching my first night class. I’d tell you that 13 hours works out to six classes, which will probably surprise you. Several of the courses at our university are two credit hours each, and many of them actually run for two semesters. Only two of my classes are the same, so I’ll be prepping for five different classes each week. Luckily, there is some crossover in terms of activities that I can use with the students.

If we were having coffee . . .

I’d tell you that I teach for two departments–the English Language Center (ELC) and the Department of Applied English (DAE). What’s the difference, you ask? Well, DAE is the department for students who are majoring in English. All other students in the university, regardless of major, still have to take some required English courses. And that’s where the ELC comes in. They provide basic EFL (English as a Foreign Language) courses for non-English majors. The writing classes are two hours each–so that makes 6 hours.

If we were having coffee . . .

I’d tell you that I teach three classes for the DAE, all writing courses. One of them is first year writing for the freshmen, and the other two are second year writing for sophomores.  In the ELC, I teach two classes of seniors, but one of those classes is a specialized one that I developed (and have adjusted over the last couple of years) for students in the Architecture Department. Architecture is one of the few departments that has students for five years (instead of four), and they’re usually so busy that they aren’t too interested in English class. So let’s just say that they can be a challenge; but so far, I have been up for it.  [These English classes for seniors (or other 4th year students) are 2 hours each–for 4 hours.]

If we were having coffee . . .

I’d tell you that my last three hours are my first evening class, which is an advanced English course (for non-English majors) who want more than just the basic requirement. It is a three-credit course called Oral Reports, and I am frantically putting things together for tomorrow night. (Of course, it’s on the first day.) But the good news is that I’ve been working on some ideas, and I’m feeling fairly confident about it. I will be able to access the past year’s syllabus in the morning, and then I can finalize things. [Luckily, I did get a copy of the TOC (Table of Contents) and the first chapter of the book.]

If we were having coffee . . .

I’d ask if you have any other questions about what I’m teaching, just ask me. I’d be happy to share.

If we were having coffee . . .

I’d tell you that it’s 246 days til 60!

 

Returning to Rome

Photo credit: nuchylee at freedigitalphotos.net

Photo credit: nuchylee at freedigitalphotos.net

Apparently when I leave Rome, I make it worth my while. I haven’t posted the last two weeks, so let’s start with a report for August 18, which was the last time I was here. Two weeks ago, things were real quiet in Rome, so I held off. Then last week, I had decided to take a blog break. I may actually post about that elsewhere, but for now it’s time to get back on track.

In spite of the extra time, I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped. That might just be a good indicator that taking two weeks off from posting isn’t necessarily the best plan. Oh wait! I didn’t actually plan it that way. But you get the idea. On the other hand, with three weeks since I made this list, the report is bound to have lots of progress, right?

REPORT FOR WEEK OF AUGUST 18

(and including the weeks of August 25 and September 1)

1. Complete 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • editing project 1 (2 sections) (I actually finished the first run-through of editing on a major project!)
  • complete 2/3 of new editing project (that was a stupid way to set it up. I don’t know which fraction is done. Maybe 1/2.)
  • 2 sections of a work project (Sort of–I did more than two sections of a work project. Does it count if it’s not the same work project that I intended to do when I wrote this? If it showed up in my to-do pile, and I switched gears to meet a deadline?)  🙂
  • writing two sections of the mapped-out writing project  (I drafted one section and designed a worksheet)
  • make a basic plan for upcoming webpage (I have something REAL basic, but it’s a start)

2. Meet with J to plan collaborative project (done, and have actually completed a couple of the tasks)

3. Sew blocks for Clue 3 of Summer Mystery Quilt (done, I even sewed about a third of the blocks together to start the quilt top)

4. Continue visiting my fellow builders. (not really. The first week, there didn’t seem to be anyone building.  The second week, I was on a break.)

5. Write a post about decluttering; schedule launch.  (NO. and it’s really starting to annoy me. But it will be more of a priority soon!)

6. Plan out the next two weeks of the blog. (No, I decided I’m not doing any genuine planning until at least October. Just going with the flow for now.)

7. Catch up on 20 of my unanswered comments.  (Just no.)

8. Attend Friday dinner. (A lovely time was had by all.)

HABITS TO MAINTAIN:

  • CURVES – 3 times a week; walking 3 times a week. (one week Curves was only 2 times, but I did extra walking)

 

GOALS FOR WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 8

1. Complete 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • finish the paper editing project
  • start editing a thesis (if I hear back on it)
  • finalize syllabi and first week lesson plans (Classes start next week.)
  • complete writing Project A
  • submit proposal for upcoming webpage

2. Travel to Taipei to attend faculty meeting Wednesday.

3. Sew some more of the quilt top for the Summer Mystery Quilt

4. VISIT my fellow builders.

5. Write a post about decluttering; schedule launch. (PRIORITY)

6. Catch up on 10 of my unanswered comments. (Decide how important this is.)

7. Complete three 20-minute decluttering blocks.

HABITS TO MAINTAIN:

  • CURVES – 3 times a week; walking 3 times a week.

Good luck to my fellow builders. May this be a good week!

****************************

This post is part of the Building Rome Project:

http://greenembe.rs/2014/09/08/building-rome-week-37-embracing-pain/

If We Were Having Coffee: Starting Again

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that it was a week with lots of contrast, lots of ups and downs. I’ve had some good news this week, and some not so good news. I’ve had some productive days, and some not so productive days. I’ve thought about starting to post in the blog again, and I’ve considered making the break longer-term.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that blogging is not a good thing for me to give up on an ongoing basis. While I was on break, it was too easy to just add another day, then another day, then another day to the break. It’s not that I feel there is a frequency I need to maintain or that I’m addicted to blogging. But as my husband pointed out, it is an important part of my process. When I suggested that with my schedule, it might be good to just give it up for a while, he jokingly said, “There are other things you could give up instead. Like sleeping, eating, . . .”  Wow! It hadn’t occurred to me in just that way, but he helped me recognize that like the exercise I’ve now incorporated into my life, this blogging and self-exploration is important as I move toward a different kind of life next summer.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I got a haircut yesterday, the first one in nearly two years. (I’ve been cutting my own hair during that time. I’ve been really happy with the results until the last time I did it.) So with a faculty meeting this Wednesday and classes starting the following week, it was time. I’ll post a photo soon, along with my adventures getting my hair cut in a foreign country.  🙂

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I feel overwhelmed with the things on my to-do list, with the things in my environment. I’d also tell you that I’ve started mapping a strategy to some clarity about what is important and what can be adapted or left behind.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that the best part of coming back to blogging isn’t necessarily the posting, but reconnecting with many of you. Even though I am officially returning to a bit of posting today, I started visiting blogs again yesterday. I appreciate you and the parts of your life that you share. I look forward to continuing the conversations.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you its 253 days til 60.