Monthly Archives: April 2006

End of term

I am now at the end of the term, the end of my intense teaching term. Probably a good time to relect back on what I learned this time.

First, I just cannot stop from overcommiting; refereeing, travelling, helping students with projects, seminars, administration, and so on. The problem is that teaching imposes the hard deadline, so that all that other stuff does not get done the way that I plan when I say yes. I need to be more realistic about what I say yes and no to during my teaching time period.

Second, teaching goes better the more relaxed I am about it. I don’t mean being unprepared, but I mean less lecturing and more like a discussion. That’s hard for me, since I am a nervous type and often over-prepare. Stop it.

Third, I like spring teaching. As we move from the cold, dreary weather to the beautiful spring weather, everyone—me included—is much cheerier about life. So class and life are much more fun.

Finally, I have gone to a lot of conferences this semester (probably too many). Now I really notice the importance of the networking and ‘clubbing’ aspect of all this is. And really how important the informal information flows are relative to the formal information flows. As one conference, someone told me that a picture I used in my discussion has been used in a few recent discussions. We are all pushing someone’s (good) paper. Even though that person was not at these conferences, notice is being paid. I guess it’s academic word of mouth. Just like bands (for example, how Clap Your Hands Say Yeah became so popular because of myspace ) have being doing well because of word of mouth, research and researchers can get the same effect. I am going to be much more clear about when I do and I don’t do that in the future.

Testing

Playing with ecto. So far, so good.

Now we are almost at the end of the semester. Time to prepare for testing. Students taking tests constantly amaze me; I sometimes watch them in exams, writing the correct answers, but then thinking that it must be more complicated than that. They therefore add more redundant material to hedge themselves, or worse of all, do a core dump.

The never believe me when I tell them:  If it seems easy, it's because it is. 

Why storytelling and teaching are not the same

How to tell a great story:
Storytelling is a great way to get your message across, but it takes practice to become a good storyteller. In this Ode magazine article about storytelling from marketing guru Seth Godin we learn some great tips on how to tell a better story.

The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.

from Lifehacker.

ABC meme (why the hell not?)

Accent: beauty, eh?
Booze: Yup. I like it.
Chore I Hate: filling in forms.
Dog or Cat: meow
Essential Electronics: Laptop. iPod.
Cologne(s): Most give me a headache.
Gold or Silver: Silver.
Hometown: nope.
Insomnia:Somtimes
Job Title: Associate professor
Kids: Yes
Living arrangements: House.
Most admirable trait: curious (could be a negative, though).
Number of sexual partners: enough.
Overnight hospital stays: none.
Phobias: heights. Don’t put me on a balcony.
Quote: “Wherever you go, there you are.” Buckaroo Bonzai
Religion: not really
Siblings: 3.
Time I wake up: 7:30
Unusual talent or skill: Skating.
Vegetable I refuse to eat: asparagus (tastes green to me.)
Worst habit: Procrastination
X-rays: Shoulder
Yummy foods I make: steak, risotto
Zodiac sign: Aries.

Sad, but I cannot think about what else to write today.

Number two!

Best Jobs from Money Magazine

I am not the only one who likes my job, I see.

Simplicity

The longer I teach, the less I cover in each class. It is not just making the powerpoints simpler. Nor is it going slower. But instead it is looking the students in the eyes after I explain something and trying to see the spark of understanding. That takes time, and in the old days, I found the silence uncomfortable. Not now.

Why? I think that now being in front of the class is much more like being on stage than it was before. I tell jokes, try physical humor, and so on. Even though I am really shy off-stage, and generally don't like being the center of attention in social situations

When I first started teaching, I would often think to myself: I have 60 people paying attention. What the heck do I have to tell them that is so important.  It seemed frightening, and sometimes I would listen to myself and it did not sound real.  In those days, I would stay up all night before class replaying the lecture in my head. No more.

Is there a rss reader

as good as ‘Net News Wire’ for windows?

Bloglines seems clunky to me.