Start-of-semester mad dash.

Well, summer sure ended quickly (although suddenly the weather is downright summery -- thanks, irony!). Less than 48 hours from the beginning of classes, my to-do list looks something like this:

  • Update syllabus for the "Philosophy of Science" class I've taught for several semesters.
  • Update web pages for that "Philosophy of Science" class.
  • Set up materials in Desire2Learn* shells for the two sections of that "Philosophy of Science" class that I'm teaching this term.
  • Finish writing syllabus for the "Logic and Critical Reasoning" course I'm teaching for the first time this semester.
  • Create web pages for "Logic and Critical Reasoning".
  • Set up materials in Desire2Learn shell for my section of "Logic and Critical Reasoning."
  • Update my homepage (primarily to reflect/link to courses I'm teaching this term and to list my current office hours).
  • Find out what the heck my college's official policy on add codes is this semester, the better to inform the throngs of people turning up wanting to add my courses what (if anything) I can do for them.
  • Verify that textbooks are actually available in the campus book store (and not mislabeled and/or mis-shelved).
  • Verify that necessary classroom equipment is functional in my classrooms.
  • For each of my courses, create 1-page handout giving overview of course requirements and URLs for detailed syllabi, assignments, etc.
  • Make offerings to the deity that controls department photocopier in order that I may successfully photocopy the 1-page handout for each of my courses.
  • Put in request for the courses I'd like to teach spring semester.
  • Try really, really hard to dodge any new committee assignments.
  • Brace self for inevitable unpleasantness of the details about what else needs to be cut this semester in light of the fact that the budget assumed a 10% increase in student fees** and that student fees actually only increased by 5%.***
  • Bring a sweatshirt to office, which seems at present to be a full 30 oF colder than the ambient temperature outside. (Bring thermometer to office, to track meat-locker-like temperatures in which it seems I'm expected to work.)

By the way, these are just the items requiring the most urgent attention -- the full to-do list is much longer.

We'll see what I can get done before the last minute has passed.
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*Desire2Learn is a course management system, like Blackboard or WebCT (which Blackboard bought and assimilated). My university adopted it because it seems to do better on accessibility issues (like making content easy to navigate for students with visual impairments with a screen reader).

**In the California State University system, of which my university is a part, "student fees" is the euphemism for tuition. Tuition is spoken of euphemistically because until the early 1990s there wasn't any. Now there is, and it seems to increase substantially every term.

***That 5% increase, however, is enough to make life really hard for a lot of our students.

4 responses so far

  • Jason G. Goldman says:

    I consider you lucky that your office is 30 degrees colder than outside. My office is only about 10 degrees cooler, which means its still ~85 degrees in here. Gross!

  • becca says:

    perhaps you can suggest the central A/C for your building go up a few degrees to save on cooling costs.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    The arctic temperatures in our department offices (whose thermostats are, of course, controlled by someone in another building on campus) have been a constant site of struggle. Neither economic arguments nor arguments on the basis that academics need offices warm enough for their brain enzymes to work properly have so far been successful.

    At this point, the path of least resistance is keeping a sweatshirt (and possibly a pair of wool socks) in the office.

  • This term I found at the last minute that the bookstore ordered a different edition of a book for my Ethics survey than had actually been on the list; all the page numbers on everything now have to be changed to accommodate the fact that half my class, going on the original syllabus, has one edition, and half the class, going on what was in the bookstore, has a different edition with different page numbers. But, to my great relief, both editions have all the readings that I'll actually be using. I'm not sure how this happens; there is an approved book list that limits possible texts for the course, and the other edition was not on the approved book list when I ordered, so there's no way I could have ordered it by accident.