Prof-Mamas, How's the Semester Going? - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-14-2004, 12:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi,

I just thought I'd check in to see how the semester was going for other professor mamas. I started teaching my course last week as a sessional instructor and I had forgotten how much time teaching takes up. I've been preparing this class since March (my DH, who is an assistant prof thinks I'm crazy) but I'm still feeling like I'm not prepared. Now that the semester has started, I'm having to deal with several student crises -- the reader not being in the bookstore etc. And today, a student called me at home with another problem (long story). Of course, I'm home with DD and can't put two thoughts together while on the phone and DD is wanting me to play...I eventually had to put on a video for DD in order to make several phone calls and get the issue sorted -- grrrrr (the issue had to be resolved today).

How do others handle the work associated with teaching? Are you strict about how much time you give to students? My problem is that I'm involved in about 3 other projects that are not teaching related in addition to taking care of DD 2 days out of the school week (the rest she's in preschool) and I'm already feeling burned out!
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Old 09-18-2004, 10:34 AM
 
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This fall I'm switching back to a quarter system after 8 years of semesters, so the term hasn't even started yet--very strange. Monday morning I start two days of leading a TA training workshop. Very frustrating to be responsible for training new teachers to teach at a new--to-me university where I myself haven't been given any orientation at all!

Since I'm due in late December I feel obligated to get absolutely every detail of both my classes worked out in advance, in case something unexpected happens with the pregnancy. I usually play it much more by ear. I suppose it is a good exercise for me to plan out each day of the quarter, but it feels a little stifling, especially for the language class, where having built in flexibility has always been an asset.

I guess this is a little off topic, since I'm not a mother yet... but I'll be interested to read what everyone else has to say!
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Old 09-21-2004, 11:07 PM
 
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I start teaching January 3. I have 3 months to sell our house, move, get a proposal in, get 2 papers submitted and get a zillion quotes for my lab. On top of that, I'm teaching a class that hasn't been taught before, so I need to come up with 30 lectures and about 6 homework assignments from scratch.

:

It's kind of fun being on campus here being totally uninvolved with the chaos of the classes and students for one last term. I also suddenly have more credibility in the department than I did before I got my job. Sigh.
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Old 09-23-2004, 03:22 AM
 
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Can I join in too?

My semester started 2 weeks ago. It is also taking me awhile to get into gear. I have my daughter in preschool for 30 hrs/week, but it's so hard. Going through tough time now. I'm also newly divorced with the ex in another state. All big changes for us, but all in the right direction, I'm convinced.

I'm sure my students think I'm heartless, bcs I am strict on deadlines and on missing exams and labs. I really do try and care about them, though, and will go the extra mile with anyone who comes by my office for help.

ideally I planned to do work from home, like I have in the past, but once I get dd to bed, I have to clean up dishes, etc. and then I'm too pooped to do any work. I hope that gets easier this fall.
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Old 09-23-2004, 09:33 AM
 
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Hi Comet! That sounds like a lot of changes. We're also facing a move and starting Karen in daycare for the first time as DH re-enters the workforce after 2 years as a SAHD.

What department are you in?
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Old 09-29-2004, 12:43 PM
 
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Well, an unexpected response to the beginning of the quarter is the feeling of beeing VERY alone as a pregnant woman amidst all the nubile (and not-so-nubile) 18-22 year old bodies. I'm six months along and finally showing, and have definitely started waddling. In general I feel pretty normal, at least until I make it to campus and see not one other pregnant body among the 20,000 students. Not quite sure why this bothers me?
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Old 10-05-2004, 04:51 PM
 
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geo- i'm in the physics/astronomy dept.
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Old 10-05-2004, 05:13 PM
 
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Hey cool! I bet you can figure out what department I'm in...

I tend to lean more towards the physics part of geophysics. I couldn't identify a rock to save my life! My research is in ultra-high pressure mineral physics. I'm a theorist right now, but my PhD was experiment. I'm working on setting up my lab right now!

How are the adjustments going?

Eruditia, I know what you mean about the young bods. I go through that every fall when all the students show up for classes.
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Old 10-07-2004, 05:35 PM
 
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hello! Eruditia gave me the heads up about this thread, when we chatted in the due date club. I'm due with my first baby in December .... dh and I planned it so I could have max. time off -- 9 months -- I'm due finals week, then we've got intercession, then I'll take leave spring semester (through in a little sick time) and have the summer. I was so proud of the planning! And how lucky we were to have it work on the first try! We were shooting for a December, Jan, or Feb. baby.

NOW, though I'm wondering "how the heck am I gonna teach at 38 1/2 weeks?? How am I gonna grade exams if I give birth early??? Do I really want to spend 2 days marathon grading, in order to have a clean plate for giving birth??" Thank goodness I got a grant that enabled me to be on a 2 course load (our usual is 4:4, but I'm usually a 3:3 with advising) this semseter!

Other than those worries, being pg has been great for my ability to manage my time and energy as a teacher and advisor! I am suddenly able to say "NO" to students who "need" deadline extensions, or want to spend hours in my office getting advice, etc. etc. I'm not physically able to let them drain me, so I set better boundaries. I'm also not as enthusiastic in the classroom (can't breathe! too tired!) and I find that its actually moderated my teaching and made it better. DH says I don't seem to be bringing the students and classes home with me anymore. And I have more time/mental space for my research...... finished a second-to-last draft of an article this weekend! YAY!

this was meant to be a short introduction ... but I usually get on a roll.

its nice to meet you all!

-rainy32
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Old 10-07-2004, 06:01 PM
 
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Hi Rainy!

About your final exam worries....

I got reviews back on a manuscript the day my water broke. I wrote back to the editor and told him that I was headed to the hospital to have a baby, and I probably wouldn't make the required 7-day turn around.

Well, I did. It was actually kinda nice to sit in a comfy chair nursing a newborn editing the manuscript.

I think this is going to vary a lot depending on how smoothly the birth goes and how you react to it, but I found that I had a lot of energy to sit and think on stuff like that.

Grading finals might be easier than you think. Just have someone who can be there for the exam itself.

Awsome timing on the due date, by the way. How lucky for you!
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Old 10-08-2004, 04:50 PM
 
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Thanks for the wise words, geofizz -- I have long had this fantasy that I'll actually get some good _thinking_ and _reading_ done in the 9 months that I'm not teaching. I have a colleague with an adopted 18-month old who laughs out loud when I tell her that. She says she has gotten _nothing_ done in 18 months. (she's gotten her book out to a press for review; but other than that, she's telling the truth). I don't wanna be rude to her .... but I think its a time management thing -- I'm the kind of person who can get alot done in 1 or 2 hours, then not stress the rest of the day. She needs a good 6 hour chunk to feel ready to write.

Its nice to hear that I may get _something_ done!

I am waiting for the page proofs on my ms. I have the month of November to do the index. Getting a book contract was key to our begininng to ttc. I'm in my 4th year of a family-friendly, tenure-track job ... but I wanted to know I had a good chance at tenure before we made a baby!
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Old 10-09-2004, 04:57 PM
 
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grading....
i had a rough labor and delivery but the first two weeks at home I was able to read and get stuff done. I graded an exam in that time. Most kiddos sleep for the first few weeks even if they later turn into a sleeping nightmare (which mine did).

getting stuff done post-baby....
highly dependent upon your child. I didn't get anything done until she was like 6 months old. And then only because she was happy with daddy, finally. I wish I had been more forceful about demanding maternity leave and had lower expectations for myself. I would have been better off admitting that I was going to get nothing done for the first three to six months. But I have friends who wrote and defended their dissertations during that time (these people are older as in almost retired).

Good luck with your pregnancy. It is such a happy time!

Kristin -- mom of Erin (11/5/02) and Leah (9/29/05)
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Old 11-30-2004, 06:11 PM
 
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I teach two courses (72% time) and also work as a 28% "faculty assistant" (read: I do all the work on behalf of a tenured prof who gets all the credit) while I am on the job market. I have already applied for 35 jobs -- and have about 5 more to send out! I should start hearing about MLA interviews in the next week or so, and am feeling really anxious.

In addition to teaching, working on the other project, and applying for jobs, I'm also preparing my dissertation to submit as a book proposal as well as some articles.

My DS is in a Montessori nursery school full time. I was really nervous about that, but it's working out great. This year is the first time since he was born that I've had a full day to myself (in fact 5 full days!) and it lets me get a lot done.

I was still writing my diss when he was born, and didn't make any progress for a full year. I was working half time then, and when I was home with him I was too busy or tired to do anything. I hope those of you who are expecting soon are more productive than I was! I'm glad, for my way of working, that I had DS when I did because I think I'll be able to be much more productive if/when I get a tenure track job than I would have had I waited to have him.
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Old 12-01-2004, 05:23 PM
 
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nice to see some action on this thread ... it must mean the semester is winding down! I am amazed at how I start things in September and finish them in December ... where do the middle months go????

I am due to deliver in 11 days -- and I have EVERYTHING done for the first time,ever, before the end of the semester. All letters of recommendation are wrritten for students, all exams written, all lecture notes done, no books to order for next semseter cause I'm on leave , only 4 more classes to teach before I"m officially done!! Which means I'm in my office, no one has come to office hours, and I'm BORED :LOL just waiting for this baby to come.

I'm so happy to have leave for 9 months -- I plan to read "in my field" and have signed on to do three book reviews to make sure I do, and I hope to have an R&R back from a journal in mid-April, which will also give me somethign to do. And I put in for a really light teaching load in the fall (we're 4:4, but I'm usually 3:3, and I put in for 2:3), and have a good shot of getting it . So I'm ready to leave this office and have a baby!!!

Happy grading, soon!
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Old 12-01-2004, 05:31 PM
 
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Wow, you're on top of things!

Have a fabulous birth!
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Old 12-01-2004, 05:39 PM
 
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yeah, I have "control issues" :LOL

actually, our dept. secretary has spent the whole semester saying "no one in this dept. ever goes to her due date, (which is true -- 4 preemies in 4 years -- none even made it to the dept. baby shower) and it makes it so HARD for us to plan ....." so I feel very vindicated in having made it this far. but now, I'm ready!
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Old 12-01-2004, 06:08 PM
 
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Everyone sounds busy! This is my "off" term. I have been busy since teaching is a separate appointment from my usual job. I have tons to get ready for next term though. I am not fully teaching a course, but I am supposed to sit in enough that I might as well be the co-prof of record. I have 6.5 interns and a graduate assist to deal with. I also have to revise my syllabus for Summer Term and get my coursepack ready. Oh, and I can't find my binder with my readings.

Rainy32, I am in awe of your ability to get organized.
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Old 12-02-2004, 11:49 AM
 
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So here's a fluffy question:

What do you wear to work? After 7 years as a grad student and postdoc I think I need clothes a bit better than what I have now: worn jeans and faded t-shirts. After 7 years as a grad student and postdoc, I don't think I even know where to shop for stuff anymore. Eeek, when am I going to find the time? My budget is finally starting to ease up a bit, but I still don't think I can go to Nordstroms and get a personal shopper. (hmmm, I doubt Columbus has a Nordstroms...)

Any ideas?
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Old 12-02-2004, 12:10 PM
 
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I go to the outlet stores, shop the super clearances at places like big department stores. I also comb the racks at TJMaxx and Marshalls as well as Filene's Basement and the Gap.

Most of my stuff is starting to show age and I know I need some new stuff. I will wear jeans to the office as long as I have a nice sweater and good shoes on as well. I also accentuate with jewelry so I at least look a little pulled together.

I try to stick to things that are multi-seasonal and can go with lots of other things.

It is sooooo tough to find good clothing that doesn't cost boatloads of cash. I stay away from Land's End and LL Bean. We bought some stuff through those catalogs recently and after a month nothing was holidng up.
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Old 12-02-2004, 12:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirlee
I go to the outlet stores, shop the super clearances at places like big department stores. I also comb the racks at TJMaxx and Marshalls as well as Filene's Basement and the Gap.

Most of my stuff is starting to show age and I know I need some new stuff. I will wear jeans to the office as long as I have a nice sweater and good shoes on as well. I also accentuate with jewelry so I at least look a little pulled together.

I try to stick to things that are multi-seasonal and can go with lots of other things.

It is sooooo tough to find good clothing that doesn't cost boatloads of cash. I stay away from Land's End and LL Bean. We bought some stuff through those catalogs recently and after a month nothing was holidng up.
Ok, ok, so no one's going to show up in my office and give me a closet full of clothes. Sigh. What good is being a prof if you don't get the service?? (don't answer that...)

I'm surprised by your comments on Land's End and LL Bean. My rain coat is Land's End and I got it in 1996. It doesn't show any wear at all.

So jeans are generally ok? They probably need to not have worn spots in the butt where my bike seat hits and they should probably be the right size, though. I need to look around more here at what people wear. The problem is that there are only two other women in the department, and one of them wears clothes waaaay out of my price range.
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Old 12-02-2004, 12:46 PM
 
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Yeah, I used to have tons of luck with Land's End and LL Bean. Dh received a coat from LL Bean two years ago and it fell apart. He didn't abuse it, just wore it. He also said that the lining never met in the middle of his chest and he would always get cold there.
My Land's End skirt dropped its hem on the first wear and dh's shirt isn't even worth discussing.

In my office, you can wear whatever as long as you don't look like a pig. Jeans should be free of worn looking spots. Absolutely no sweats or warm ups. It is often cold in the storage areas and you can get dirty sometimes when shifting things, so you don't want to wear anything that you really care about.

The only time I dress really nice is when I know I am going to be on campus for a meeting. Then I deck out.

Honestly, men have is really easy. All they need is a nice pair of trousers, a couple of good shirts, two or three ties and a nice blazer and they can go for a week!
Women can't wear the same sweater in the same week without getting trounced.
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Old 12-02-2004, 12:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirlee
It is often cold in the storage areas and you can get dirty sometimes when shifting things, so you don't want to wear anything that you really care about.
Yeah, working in the lab is a whole different issue. Maybe I'll end up with a "lab day" look and a "teaching day" look. No jewlery, no loose clothing, nothing I care about wrt stains etc., for the lab.

What's your field, mirlee?
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Old 12-02-2004, 01:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geofizz
The problem is that there are only two other women in the department, and one of them wears clothes waaaay out of my price range.
and the other is incredibly unstylish. But take some notes from her -- she regularly wears jeans,khakis, fleece jackets and the like. When there's a meeting or something she wears a blouse (really some kinda button down) and khakis. What's your style? When I was teaching school (middle school) I shopped at Eddie Bauer and Lands End. I've had great luck with lands end.IMO it is easier if you just decide that darn it you need new clothes and are going to pay retail for them. Clearance shopping when you need lots is too time consuming. BUT...there is an eddie bauer outlet center on the west side of town. I'd have to think about where it is exactly.

And from when I was student teaching, if you're short or somehow look really young, it is easier for high school (and undergrad) students to recognize you as the teacher if you are a bit more dressed up. Never a problem for me as I am almost 6 feet tall and have a voice that carries well.

Kristin -- mom of Erin (11/5/02) and Leah (9/29/05)
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Old 12-02-2004, 02:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kerc
and the other is incredibly unstylish.
LOL. Yeah, but I wasn't gonna say it.

Found the outlet store through google. Darn. I was just down that way buying a dishwasher. (another reason why clothes aren't really in the budget.)
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Old 12-02-2004, 02:34 PM
 
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Geofizz, I am the Archivist/Photograph Curator for a major university archives. My job is to manage all the stuff that isn't paper like film, video, audio, and photography. I teach in the graduate school for Summer session and lecture several times throughout the year in about three or four other classes.

It is a great job even when it is stressful
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Old 12-02-2004, 03:01 PM
 
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lands end and llbean pre-2000 hold up, anything more recent, since they've outsourced their labor, falls apart pretty quickly. but we still bought some lands end slippers and a flannel for dh just the other day, they're so warm. I don't like lands end clothes for women, though -- a bit too "grandma"

I look really young for my age -- and when I wear a suit I feel like I'm playing dress-up, so even at professional conferences I do the twin-set and skirt thing. i do own one suit I love: brown tweed, short coat, 3/4 length skirt with a back pleat. Love it! Only wore it twice before pregnancy!

our dept. has lots of younger women, and two of them teach regularly in really hip cool clothes, including jeans; one in rather midwestern clothes, one only in khakis and large T-shirts, and me: can't decide what my style is! I know that I seldom feel like "me" when I'm dressed for work, though.

I've gotten TONS of compliments on my maternity clothes! Which I didn't buy -- they were given to me by three different people -- I picked out some khakis, and a blouse that gets compliments, but everything else is from someone else. So I'm taking a cue from that -- colored pull-over tops, 3/4 sleeves, patterns, khakis and jeans. I like color -- but moved to SoCal from NYC, the black-wearin-capital-of-the-world, so have had to start a wardrobe from scratch.

If I had unlimited funds: Jill St. John knits, Eileen Fischer tops and bottoms, and Ann Klein everything. I also really like vintage clothes and am pretty much a hippie, but feel odd wearing a 50's cocktail dress covered with a sweater (definitely more me than khakis!).

fun question mirlee.
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Old 12-05-2004, 02:29 AM
 
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The clothes thing is hard. I really struggled when I used to teach in boiling hot Arizona. That, compounded with the fact that I started being a professor at 29 and have a very feminine and fit figure (If I do say so myself...when not 9 months pregnant) meant that I really had to work hard to look professional without looking corporate or tv-lawyer-bimbo.

I found that fitted but not structured (with a waist but no shoulder pads or major tailoring) jackets and knit tops with 3/4 length sleeves over basic a-line skirts worked well. In AZ I would wear them without stockings and would wear sandals all year. The jacket would always be there in case of a meeting. I am old-fashioned enough not to want to show a lot of skin--arms or legs--when standing in front of a class of 18 year-olds. I saved that for the salsa clubs after hours (sigh, those were the days).

Now that I'm in Oregon, I'm wearing more sweaters and jersey knit pants. After pregnancy I'll probaby go back to the skirts, but with warm tights underneath and sweaters rather than tops...

As for colors, I tend to pretty neutral dark colors (men's department colors). Having a handful of interesting, large scale necklaces or bracelets seems to really punch up a neutral outfit. Having cool shoes helps too.

I was so naive when I first started teaching that I bought Dress for Success. Talk about a waste and inappropriate! Just start slowly accumulating a few flexible nice things that you love (that are easily washable!!)

The store Chico's is a good place to start...
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Old 01-03-2005, 07:32 PM
 
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Ladies,

I'm now flipping out.

My first class is tomorrow at 10 am.

I don't know what the @#$# I'm talking about. Why on earth did they hire me? I can't teach them anything! What on earth do I know about anything? I'm not prepared. I can't teach mathy stuff to math-phobic people. EEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKK!

Flip out complete.
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Old 01-03-2005, 11:47 PM
 
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Don't flip out!! I think we all go through that feeling on a regular basis. The book Lifting a Ton of Feathers discusses the phenomenon at length--the stupid "I'm not worthy" BS that many women academics put themselves through.

You DO know the material. You ARE a competent and intelligent teacher and researcher. You'll be FINE!!

Admittedly, teaching unmotivated students is the hardest thing of all, but don't just think of them as an amorphous group of math-phobes, think of them as a group of individuals who need your class (and you) to help them get to where they need to be. Think of the communication issues as a game or a problem to be solved. You can solve all kinds of problems and do all the time. Communicating a "difficult" subject is just another set of problems to find solutions to.

Focus on the students and what they need to learn from you, not on some peer or colleague you want or need to impress. As long as you keep your focus on the people taking your class and how to get them to where they need to be, all the anxiety tends to melt away, at least for me, no matter how hopelessly bad my students do at my subject (which is also anxiety-inducing: foreign language).

Good luck!!
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Old 01-04-2005, 03:54 PM
 
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Thanks for the pep talk.

It went alright, though there's such a mix of people in the class, ranging from an older guy from the community to undergrads to one physics student. I think the mix is going to be the hardest part of this.

I went from there to my lab where I spent a while discussing power requirements for the lab, and I felt competent once again.

Thursday I start the real math and I hand out the first homework assignment. Off to go do my homework assignment before I hand it out!
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