When you’re sick…

…it’s really hard to start a new semester.  Fall semester ended in a very intense few weeks of reviewing student manuscripts followed by wonderful (but intense) focus on holiday-related activities followed by a week away in the mountains.  Coming back from the mountains (where access to the Internet, TV, & news of the outside world was limited) turned out to be quite jarring.  Focusing on developing a new semester plan, finalizing the course schedules, creating my writing schedule, adjusting to new work schedules for both Bill and me all served to remind me that each semester is a time of renewal and was as reorganizing.  Much like others who work shifts, our academic schedules change about every 15 weeks.  What I learned this semester is that with both of us teaching now, both of our schedules shift which will require more attention and planning as we move forward.

Suffice it to say, my body reacted by grabbing on to a cold virus.  By Thursday of the first week I was pretty sick and tempted to cancel class.  In the end, I opted for a short class where I could meet the students, review the syllabus and get everyone started.  Then I went home and hibernated for four days.  I rested, drank lots of fluids, ate a lot of soup, and took a fair bit of cough & cold medicines.  I’m not 100% yet, but maybe about 80%. My takeaway from this: slowing down when you’re sick actually helps you get better faster.

Yesterday and today I started reading some of the blogs students are writing for classes.  Their writing inspires me.  Their writing enerWord Cloud_Jan142013gizes me.  Their writing challenges me to bring my best to classes. Their writing also reminds me of the myriad experiences, hopes, and dreams they bring to our learning communities.  Their writing also reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to engage with them and facilitate our learning communities.  I’m excited to create ways for all of us to be at our best, to bring our best thinking to our class sessions, and to challenge each of us to grow in new, unexpected ways.

A new year, a new semester

Another new semester begins!  I only posted once in Fall 2012, yet that post summed up my focus for the semester: Creating a solid semester plan.  This included setting semester, monthly, and weekly goals.  I’m excited to say that the semester was one of my most productive in all areas of my faculty work: teaching, research, and service.  I taught two courses — one I’ve taught before (Applied Inquiry II) and one that was new for me (Applied Inquiry IV).  Both classes focus on supporting students in the development of their research skills.  It’s very gratifying to work with students who might be new to educational research and witness the ways their skills develop throughout their doctoral studies.  In terms of my own research I had two proposals accepted for conference presentations (yay!), I had an article accepted for publication (woohoo!), and I had an article published in New Directions in Community Colleges.  My service on Pacific’s institutional review board continued and I had a new, unexpected opportunity for service when I was asked to chair the program review community for the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. Because I stuck to my semester plan, I was able to incorporate the unexpected service opportunity without negatively impacting my other goals; in fact, I had met my semester goals when the service opportunity appeared.

Even so, I’m mystified that I didn’t blog more.  What I like about blogging is the opportunity to reflect and share those reflections.  I *love* reading others’ blogs — especially those created by students as they reflect on our class experiences. Reading others’ blog energizes and inspires me.  I’m amazed at how creative others are with their blogs, which also leads me to ask, “How could I do that?”  This morning, for example, I noticed that a student had created a page on her blog that links to her Pinterest page … I immediately thought that I wanted to do this, too. Pinterest is fun; it’s like visual blogging … and then here’s what happened … I discovered one reason why I may not have blogged more last semester: It takes me forever to complete a post.  I’ve been working on this post for about an hour and am only this far along … Why is that, you might ask?  I wondered that myself.  The sentence “Speaking of Pinterest…” took me down a rabbit hole as I went to create the hyperlink for Pinterest, decided to log in to Pinterest using Facebook, got sidetracked by posts on Facebook – including one where I had to find a link to a previous show on This American Life – and well, so it goes…

One of the tips to good time management is identifying how long a task takes.  So a more detailed goal might be necessary if I really want to get serious about blogging this semester: (1)  Set a realistic goal for blogging (i.e., number of posts per week), (2) schedule specific times on the weekly calendar for blogging, (2) time myself, (3) stop writing when I get to the end of the time, (4) come back to the blog at the next schedule time to continue, (5) realize when enough is enough.

Enough.