Monday, January 4, 2016

Proffie resolutions

Stop destroying
the compound's furniture.
1. Value my family more and my students less.
2. Learn some new things, both for work and not.
3. Read a book that is not for work at least once a month.
4. Exercise at least some.
5. Despite my growing cynicism at the world, make being nice the default option.

Anyone else want to share?

Dr. Amelia


  1. As I resist heading back to the grind this morning (yes, we had less than 2 weeks between the great holiday known as "Grades Due" and the official kick off to the semester, "Workshop Days"), here are some:

    -Find creative time. Doesn't have to be productive, just find some damn time to do things for ME
    -Be more decisive
    -Have more control over my professional life
    -Resist the pressure to sacrifice more and more to my institution - which has no similar feelings of loyalty towards me, and is facing the 3rd massive budget crisis in 6 years.

    1. *side note*

      Workshop days used to run W-F, then Tu-F more recently. This year, it's M-F. Two times in the last week I ran into colleagues out shopping and they both specifically mentioned coming back to work starting on Tuesday. I'm good little drone, so I suspect that campus will be pretty damn barren today.

  2. Echoing the ideas above, I resolve to spend more time doing the things that I value, including
    - meaningful time with family and friends
    - exploring, reading, and playing with ideas in my discipline
    - creatively re-engaging and re-imagining my classes
    - maybe even doing some scholarship
    and spending significantly less time being a loyal drone, caring less about irrelevancies like
    - my chair, my dean, my president
    - annoying, grade-focused students
    - assessment
    all while trying not to be bothered by the bad decisions, top-down management and the death of shared government.

    If I achieve 30% of this, I'll be much happier :)

  3. Ralph the Romance ProfJanuary 4, 2016 at 1:46 PM

    Value my students more. They are the lifeblood of our profession.

    Do scholarship because it is a part of my job and I don't think stealing from the university is moral.

    Read books that pertain to my profession and leave fun for other times.

    Exercise my right to show colleagues who teach casually and frivolously that they are wrong and are robbing our students.

    Let being a respected professor who is serious punctual and dedicated be my default setting, and not act like a whiny baby who probably should have gotten more than an MA or MEd.

    1. Yeah, you're a lot of fun. You might be looking for the Crampicle.

    2. For me, it's:

      - Try to resist the temptation to taunt humanities proffies who try to suppress opinions I respect, particularly when they come from other humanities proffies since the science proffies are too busy for CM with their burgeoning class enrollments.

      Oh, darn.

      Welcome, Ralph the Romance Prof!

    3. Welcome, Ralph!

      I know Internet-based communications aren't always the best for identifying the intent behind the words, so I am sure you are a genial individual who isn't in fact, calling me a whiny baby, because that would just be hurtful. And no respected professor has time for that.

      I hope you'll continue to be involved in the community here. We all learn from each other.

      Dr. A

    4. "Read books that pertain to my profession and leave fun for other times"? Being a professor isn't a monastic commitment. Like any other adult citizens of a free country, academics are free to read whatever the heck we want and have as much fun as we want when we are not in the classroom or holding paid office hours. Am I obligated to restrict my sex life to weekends only, too?
      I work my rear off teaching year-round, averaging 12-14 sections of writing intensive classes a year for less than $30K annually, so it seems more likely that the university is stealing from me than the other way around.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Here, too, I'm mostly just tempted to steal yours, Amelia.

    I don't really want to value my students less, but I'm with Arthur on performing triage: trying to find a way to give less energy to those who are demanding in unfruitful ways (e.g. overly grade-focused, and/or generally anxious and needy, though it's hard not to spend time calming the latter group down, especially since it isn't really all that hard, but it does take energy, and time, that perhaps might be better, or at least more fairly, spent elsewhere) and more to those who are focused on learning (especially the ones who are quietly doing their best; those, I fear, are the ones who slip between the cracks, or at least don't get their fair share of attention, in the chaos that is a 4/4 load of writing-intensive classes populated by students with vastly different levels of preparation).

    But all of the above is in tension with what I suspect is behind your "value my students less": the need to keep life in balance, and especially to apply the oxygen-mask principle (you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others, including students) and/or the marathon principle (a teaching career is long, and one can't do everything one could possibly do every semester, at least not if one also has to keep up with other areas of life and work, and perhaps teach in the summer, and if sabbaticals seem unlikely, as does retirement before it becomes absolutely, physically necessary. Not to mention that planning a semester that way is a sure recipe for disaster, because weather, human frailty -- your own and/or the students' -- life in general, etc., etc. always intervenes). So I'll continue to remind myself that I can only try one or two new things each semester, and maybe not even that some semesters, and that that's okay. And yes, I, too, would really like to spend more time and energy on family, friends, and even myself -- and think that I'd be a better teacher for it.

    For me, too, that also means more exercise, and more time spent cooking meals at home(I'm actually pretty good at producing healthy homemade meals, and quite happy eating them, but, for whatever reason, that happened all too infrequently this fall).

    I'd like to get back to research, but recently I've been focusing instead on trying to get my physical and financial house in better order, with slow but steady progress, but at the price of doing very little writing and research recently. Apparently, at least in my present situation, it really is one or the other (or a very, very little bit of each).

    And yes, yes to #5, though perhaps I might say "kind" instead (I read this, which went mildly viral, over the break, and the Vonnegut quote at the end has been ringing in my head ever since; the points above are pretty good as well). Whichever word one chooses, it's worth noting that it may actually be easier to keep this resolution if one applies the oxygen-mask principle, and thus isn't constantly on one's last nerve.

    P.S. Are we even bothering to move the furniture? It's in pretty bad shape.

    1. Totally down with the 1 or 2 new things a semester principle - thanks Cassandra! When it comes to the value, I think I mean in terms of time. Tucking the grade schooler in tonight might need to take preference over answering the anxiety e-mail as soon as received - I get to it first thing in the morning, I promise!

    2. And sometimes (often) if you leave the email overnight, they solve the problem themselves (perhaps even by reading the syllabus/assignment). It's a pedagogical technique! (Actually, really, it is -- teaches the independence and problem-solving that employers say they want).

  5. What Cassandra said, especially with regard to the oxygen mask principle. I can't give my best to students, colleagues, taxpayers, etc. unless I'm in good working condition myself.

  6. Ralph the Romance ProfJanuary 5, 2016 at 8:20 AM

    For a group famous for bashing others, you sure are a sensitive lot. This and other hate sites about higher ed make me sick to my stomach. Disgraceful.

    My comment revealed my character.

    And your diary entries reveal yours. I can live with myself. Can you?

    1. I'll add my welcome, Ralph. I have to admit your character, as revealed in your comment, strikes me as more than a bit self-satisfied, and probably unaware of various kinds of privilege. But I could be wrong; maybe you'll improve on acquaintance. Or maybe, since the place nauseates you, you'll go away; that would also be a sensible decision.

      If you stick around, I think you'll find it's more of a love/hate site, with the love directed at our disciplines, and our students (especially the ones who are genuinely trying, however much they may struggle in the process), and what we believe the whole process of teaching and learning can and should be, and the hate directed at all the systemic/contextual/ancillary stuff that seems to keep us ever farther from that ideal. It's a place that works well for people who see shades of gray (no; not those shades of gray, though we do occasionally allude to naked emperors), perhaps not so well for those given to more black-and-white thinking. As Reg points out, there are plenty of sites out there for those who survive by wearing rose-colored glasses (though wearing them when looking in the mirror is chancy, I think). For those of us who need to blow off steam now and then -- and confirm that it's not just us who thinks there might be a problem or two in higher ed that we can't solve through positive thinking, or working still harder for still less money/security/voice -- before heading back into the fray, there's this place.

  7. " sure are a sensitive lot.
    ...make me sick to my stomach. "
    Hope it's not logic you're teaching.

    "I can live with myself. "
    As long as we don't have to


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