Wednesday, August 5, 2015

An Early Thirsty From Isaac in Illinois. Worst. Orientation. Ever.

Okay, so I know what I'm doing, ten years in the classroom. And this year we've instituted mandatory orientation for all members of our HUGE department. We have 70 people, and just hired 7 new faculty members, hence the panic of a 2 day session.

The orientation schedule came out today and I'm staring at it in dumb-fuck disbelief. Here are some gems:

  1. A syllabus is the front door to your classroom. Open it wide so that all students may find entry.
  2. When your students achieve you achieve. How to give grades that are transparent, fair, and understandable. Students have a grade they want. Show them the way and everyone will win!
  3. Make your meeting spaces comfortable and welcoming. (Including this: "Make sure your office is always well lit. It should feel like a cafeteria of the mind, not a nightclub.")
Now, I haven't done the orientation yet. That's next week. But I'm already obsessed with hating it.

Q: Have you been through such a basic orientation? Did it happen when you started teaching? Do vets still go through it? What was your worst orientation experience ever?



22 comments:

  1. My office is like a broom closet with file cabinets. Is that more like a cafeteria or a nightclub?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know, but it sounds like the perfect place to hide a body. :)

      Delete
    2. Our offices? Pah! Low-hanging fruit. The "cafeteria of the mind" writer should put a bit of effort in and look at other ways we can serve:

      Your voice lets them rejoice in the choice to study.
      Your attire sets the desire to inspire.

      On a personal note, the LMS is a glovebox for my soul.

      Delete
  2. Does is have an author's name on it?
    Cafeteria of the mind? Even Stommel couldn't top that (I hope).

    ReplyDelete
  3. I had an orientation once where a faculty member went on for 30 minutes about the need for us to enforce the "two spaces after a period" rule. She was nearly apoplectic about the one space usage that had come into fad over the years.

    That is a half hour I'll be begging for on my deathbed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fucking dinosaurs. IT'S CALLED A PROPORTIONAL FONT.

      I want a refund on the time I spent enduring last year's conference keynote speaker; he was pleased to inform us that it's now possible to find articles online.

      Delete
    2. As one who has gone in an deleted all of those double spaces from documents old timers send me, I want those hours of my life back, too.

      And this is why I keep coming back to CM! For sharings like this!

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  4. did you know kids today don't wear watches? We paid a speaker a hefty fee for observations like that....

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ah yes, every time I'm in a cafeteria, I remark on the lovely, welcoming, flattering lighting.

    Pouring one out for ya Isaac!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Reg W says:

    I can see the value in number two in Isaac's list. But the language of achievement creeps me out. The student still have to actually achieve something, and whenever I hear about achievement, it's always couched in the consumer/student model.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think "cafeteria of the mind" is going into my all-time favorite list of things to pull out when an admin starts droning on about marketing image and institutional image.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My first orientation included some advice for fitting "scholarship" in around a hectic teaching schedule. "Set aside an hour to write every day."

    That's great, I thought, but I'm a scientist: when do I find time to go do the actual _work_? I've since learned that many disciplines equate writing with scholarship, but I still find the centrism of the discussion mindboggling.

    Just thought I'd add another dish of orange jello to the selection here at the cafeteria of the mind.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Despite the 1960s-era overhead fluorescent lighting that is burnt out, my office is plenty well lit. I have a 250-watt halogen lamp that I aim at the students who hassle me. LED lighting may be more efficient in lumens-per-watt, but I actually want the heat from the halogen: it makes the meetings themselves more efficient.

    Cafeteria? Students have no compunction about eating during conferences, and since my schedule doesn't allow a lunch break, I'm eating at my desk on a daily basis. So there's your cafeteria right there. But "cafeteria of the mind"? The kids smell bad enough that I am sure their brains are infected, and I am NOT gonna eat them.

    "How to give grades that are transparent, fair, and understandable. Students have a grade they want. Show them the way and everyone will win!"

    To whoever wrote this tripe: "have" and "want" are not the same thing. If you mean "students are seeking a certain grade" then say so. But if you mean that assigning grades in a transparent, fair, and understandable way and showing students the way to earn the grades they desire will necessarily result in said students EARNING said grades, then you have much to learn.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I was given a copy of The New Professor's Handbook by an older colleague when I landed my first (adjunct) teaching gig. And after I survived my first year at my current place of employment and got put on the tenure track my department sent me to the New Faculty Workshop put on regularly by a major professional society in my discipline. I also have the casual mentorship of several more experienced member of my department.

    Sure, there was a lot of Kool-Aid flying around at that workshop, but it also contained a non-trivial amount of plain, ole good advice on teaching technique and time management.

    So, no complaints. I'm well supported on that front and the senior people are not dragged to anything they don't ask for (several of them have made the teaching and learning of our disciplines their research focus and go off to meeting about this stuff all the time).

    But don't get me started about Title IX training. It's not that I have a problem with the idea, or don't think it is important. It's that the law is an ass and this law has been interpreted in ways that are ripe for all kinds of abuse. Those sessions give me nightmares.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Having accepted a full-time position I am currently going through orientation (Yay!). So far it has been good, but we have not had any Kool-Aid forced on us yet. I am so grateful that my new institution is not using any of the wording found in the Early Thirsty above. Of course I am about done mentally with training as I want to prepare my classes, but then I have no textbooks yet.

    Title IX training is upcoming. So many parts of Title IX are just.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations. Enjoy this time, before the horrors of your new job become apparent.

      Delete
  12. Thankfully, veteran faculty at my joint are not required to attend orientation. This may be because it would be too hard for them not to giggle at the torrent of edu-babble gushed at these events.

    At my orientation, years ago, I got introduced to how administration interact with faculty. When I asked our Provost how reliable our students were when assigned work, he dodged the question. He could have outright lied and said they were conscientious about their educations, but someone would have giggled.

    ReplyDelete
  13. When I was hired in at LD3C, all but one of my cohort had taught previously, and I'd had nearly 20 years of teaching experience, yet we were required to attend a session on how to construct a syllabus from start to finish, as though we'd never seen one before. It was really useful to the one guy who'd never taught before ...

    ReplyDelete