Friday, December 19, 2008

End of the Semester Assessment

I turned in final grades on Wednesday, officially bringing my first t-t semester to a close. It is the best feeling in the world!!! With 120 students, the grading was brutal all semester and the sudden addition of committees, advising and prepping 4 classes had me on my toes since August. Going to APSA and Northeastern did not help because I had to prepare two (very sub-par) papers. So, I am planning to take a much needed break.

Unfortunately, the break will not be total. First, I need to prepare a syllabus for Contemporary Political Thought – a class I am teaching for the first time in the spring. I will also make some changes in my Intro to Political Theory and Intro to American Govt. courses.

Second, I have to work on a reflective statement for my application for re-appointment. Millersville has a strange system where each t-t faculty has to apply for re-appointment each year. Though the outcome is never really in doubt, it requires a ton of paperwork including an assessment of what the faculty member has done throughout their year towards course development, students evals, scholarship and service. It also requires peer evaluations which means THREE IN-CLASS evaluations per semester of your teaching. While this is great when you go up for tenure (having conducted such stringent evaluations five times, they are hardly likely to throw you out then), it is a really time-consuming process each year.

Third, of course, I still need to work on the big D(issertation). I am hoping to get a draft of the whole thing to my committee by the end of the spring semester.

Last, I need to clean my office and our house. The office is a mess with papers, exams, quizzes and even unanswered mail everywhere. The house is worse and needs a good cleaning on top of that.


In Other News:

Car: Finally, we got a new car (that is a story in itself which I will recount later). It is a red 2007 Toyota Camry. As a preview to the story, let me just say that Gregg and I were on completely different sides of this purchase. Gregg thought we should buy an American car and be supportive of the American auto industry. I fought for the Toyota – putting so much money into the purchase, I did not feel comfortable buying American especially with the bailout still on the line.

Cheating: I have two sets of students who have clearly plagiarized some parts of their papers from each other. In the first set, the two students use different language but every paragraph is the same for both – including the mistakes. Some of the language is the same but not a lot. I am more charitably disposed to this pair. But the second pair have submitted papers which are word-for-word the same as each other for the first 3 pages. How lazy – and stupid – can you be?

Conferences: In the interests of both money and due to sheer exhaustion, I have withdrawn from both the Southern and Western conferences. I got accepted to both but Southern is in New Orleans and Western in Vancouver and I am too tired to write 2 more papers and travel that far. Maybe this was a stupid decision – after all, t-t faculty have to do as much professional stuff as possible – but I have already done 2 conferences this year and I thought 4 is too much.

Celebratory Menu: To celebrate my first real day off, I am making a Middle-Eastern-Indian inspired mutton stew with a Mediterranean couscous.