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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Asking teh internets for help

Okay, so I have two big projects I am working on: a book review and preparing to teach. I am asking teh internets for help on both front.

1. Teh Book Review.
How do you write a book review? I'm curious as to others' processes in tackling this. Do you read the whole book first and then write it? Do you write parts of it as you read the book - like a chapter, then write, chapter, then write? Do you take copious notes as you read and then write it from that? Do you read it more than once? How much do you worry if you hate the book?

I've written one before, and I made notes as I read, then wrote a draft, then read the book again and then completed the review. I can't bear to read this book twice. It is also dense with stuff that chaps my hide, so I feel like I should write the review as I go - but then I worry I will get too caught up in the minutiae that annoy me that my review will be nitpicky and too focused on details.

2. Teh teaching.
So, I start teaching a completely new-to-me class at a new-to-me university next week! NEXT WEEK! The book has already been chosen, but I don't have a copy yet. I am replacing someone who got sick and who backed out at the last minute - and who is unavailable. We are hoping to get a copy of a syllabus from one of her students ... but that person isn't replying. The room has no yet been assigned, and I don't know if I will be able to use powerpoint or not - and won't until maybe the DAY BEFORE I TEACH. And we don't know if I have a TA or not - but I have over 50 students, and some of those are grad students (eek).

No, I'm not panicking yet - I tend to do everything last minute. But, I would really like some of the above settled so it is just me putting things off. But, I wanted to ask teh internets to help me create a to-do list of things to do to prepare to teach. Or, does anyone have one already? Like, what else do I need to do (in no particular order):

1. get an office
2. determine office hours
3. get a mailbox
4. get/choose textbook and/or articles
5. make syllabus
6. determine assignments
7. determine due dates for assignments and readings
8. make exams (if needed)
9. get syllabus copied
10. get rosters
11. make excel spreadsheet
12. blackboard (?)
13. write some lectures
14. find good nearby coffee shop in which to grade
15. find many many films
16. make sure you have technology with which to show films
17. arrange guest speakers for days you don't have films
18. Decide if you want to get good evals or not, then create your policies.
19. reconsider the assignments afer you find out whether or not you have a TA (note: TAs are super helpful when one is teaching at a brand new school!!!).

what else am I forgetting?



At 12:36 AM, Blogger Grad007 said...

I don't have much teaching experience, but here are my 2 cents:

1. Can you not leave making exams until the end of the semester, so things are not so hectic now?

2. Perhaps you could start writing your lectures in powerpoint anyway; If you find the room doesn't have the facilities for powerpoint, you could print your overheads and use an overhead projector. They must have one somewhere that could be brought into the room if need be.

At 2:31 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

I think you could always go back and make the review less detail-oriented after you'd written a draft, so maybe it would be better to write as you go so that you don't miss any details you do end up wanting to include.
I don't have any ideas about teaching, sorry, but good luck!

At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

am I missing something? what's with the "teh"s?

At 11:19 PM, Blogger dr four eyes said...

Re: teh teaching. Think about how you're going to explain the last-minute switch to students. Might be that they don't notice it (depending on the class, how much they pay attention to prof names, etc). But, just in case they do, consider carefully how you explain it.

Here's why I say that: I once got a last-minute teaching gig, so last minute that I had to miss the 1st class. Not only was I scrambling all semester to keep up with lesson plans, assignments, reading the book chosen for the class, etc, but I think being a last-minute replacement really hurt my credibility w/ students. I had way more challenges to authority and grade challenges than I'd ever had before. I think the way I presented the situation to students made a difficult situation worse--I was off-balance, new to the university, and communicated that to students, some of whom took the ball and ran with it. (All of this ties into research about how students respond to young, female profs/adjuncts; a male adjunct in the same situation probably would have been fine--rewarded for thinking on his feet, etc--not punished for being disorganized).

You've got a bit more time to prepare, so you should be fine...but it's just one more issue (granted, a small one) to consider as you prep for the semester. I'd only mention it if asked, and, then, I'd be fairly matter of fact and brief about it.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I've put myself in similar situations... here is what I would do.

1) focus on the content of the syllabus -- you can probably go on-line to get the table of contents for the book so you can write a draft. Don't make the syllabus too specific -- just a basic schedule of topics and assignments. That way you can make adjustments as you go.

Fill in the necessary details about office etc -- before you copy it, or leave blanks for them to fill in.

I think it is excellent advise to think about how you'll explain the change. Don't make a big deal of it and make sure your first class is nicely planned out and you'll be fine. Students are very sensitive to your attitude -- so go in with a good one an everything will be fine!

At 8:01 PM, Anonymous K. L. Smith said...

Hello--I wandered over here from one of the many Top Design blogs, as you were intriguing, and your blog has certainly fulfilled that expectation. About the book review--although you probably are well nigh done or totally through with that now, I found this link has helped me a great deal:


Hope you get notified about this very late comment, as I don't know exactly that system works for blogspot.


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