Summer Schedule

The summer semester began this Monday. I was on campus Monday for most of the day; however, Monday will be the only day I’ll be on campus for the entire 8 week term. Am I teaching this summer? Yes. Am I teaching a full load (4 classes)? Yes. So how did I manage this schedule? Online classes.

I received my online certification two summers ago and from that point on, I’ve been teaching at least two online courses a semester. Online education, its pros and cons, could be an entire post on its own and I’m sure I’ll write that post later this summer. However, from a teaching point of view, I’d like to outline the basic reasons for why I chose this track for the summer semester.

Normally, I don’t like going totally online. This past spring I taught two face to face courses and two online courses and I felt like this was a good balance. However, summer term is a whole other ball game. For starters, it is only 8 weeks long. When I started as an adjunct at the same campus, summer term used to be 10 weeks long. I don’t like the 8 week term for a lot of reasons but most of my issues come from the way my institution has decided to organize this 8 week term. Most classes are in 3 hour blocks and meet twice a week. For example, last summer I taught two comp classes face to face and one met on M/W 8-11 and one met T/TH 8-11. This might not be such a problem if students were only taking one class but many times they are taking two or three or even four. This makes for a scheduling nightmare and it is exhausting. After teaching a 3 hour class, the last thing you want to do is turn around and teach another one and that is what many instructors are forced to do.

Also, it is not a particularly effective way to learn. Students feel pressured and if they get behind for some reason, there is virtually no room for them to move. The grading is completely insane, especially if students are writing papers all semester. It’s basically a marathon and it is dreaded by most faculty in my division.

Now, online classes are not easier by any means. They are not easier to teach or grade or set up and they are not easier to take (from the students perspective). However, you can work at home, which eliminates the dreaded three hour blocks. Also, I feel already, and we’re only three days in, that my feedback is much better because I’m not overtired from teaching six hours of class. I also feel like I use my time better. This morning I got up, ate breakfast, went to the gym and then came home and worked on my classes for about three and half hours. This is normal no matter if you’re teaching face to face or online but because I was home alone (well, Kwe and Nimbus were here but sleeping) and had minimum distraction, I was able to move through my work relatively quickly and thoughtfully.

Would I teach an entire load online for Fall or Spring semesters? Probably not. A 16 week term doesn’t give me nearly the headache and again, I like the face to face contact with students. However, I think that the flexibility of online classes also works well for our students during the summer. Students in all my online classes have to post an introduction on the discussion board and I’ve lost count of how many work 2nd shift, have children or grand children at home, have two jobs, don’t live in town, etc. This option allows them to complete a class without actually having to come to campus.

Our CSA started this week. Aren’t they just beautiful? Kale, kholrabi, turnips & bok choy. We also got salad mix and pea shoots. I love summer.

Tuesday (Kohlrabi) Musings

This is why I love my CSA. Today’s goody box included carrots, scallions, cucumber, salad, beet greens, snow peas, cilantro, Kale, and something called Kohlrabi. I’d never heard of Kohlrabi before, but apparently it is German in descent and is related to cabbage, beets, and broccoli. It is best eaten raw on salads or as a sliced up into chips for a snack. I cut some up tonight to include in my salad for dinner. It has the texture of a water chestnut and has a nice crunch. In this picture, the Kohlrabi is the bulb looking vegetable on the left.

Wednesday (CSA) Musings

Our CSA started last week and I’m already in love with it. This week we got salad mix, swiss chard, carrots, snap peas, and cucumbers. I’m eating a salad right now made from all of the above and it is yummy. I’m really excited to see what goodies we get as the summer progresses.

I’m feeling less tired this week, so (fingers crossed) I figure I must finally be getting back into the swing of things. I’m looking forward to the weekend. We have a few fun things planned and Ashley may be coming to visit.

I received another “good” rejection email from Newport Review. They encouraged me to submit again, so I probably will. I still have quite a few poems out in the universe, so we’ll see.

kitchenette building

We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan,
Grayed in, and gray. “Dream” makes a giddy sound, not strong
Like “rent,” “feeding a wife,” “satisfying a man.”

But could dream send up through onion fumes
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes
And yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall,
Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms

Even if we were willing to let it in,
Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,
Anticipate a message, let it begin?

We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!
Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,
We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Saturday (Overextended) Musings

I woke up this morning at 7:45. For a weekend, that’s pretty darn early. I had made a commitment, but when my alarm went off I was reminded why my weekends are so sacred to me. This week has been a killer. I feel like I’ve been just barely keeping up, and while next week promises to be better, I really needed this weekend to regroup.

I think it is important to know your limits in terms of scheduling. I’m very conscious of this because I learned a long time ago (when I was in middle school) that when I over commit myself, I start to get over tired and when I start to get over tired, well everything falls apart. I like being involved in a variety of things that revolve around my career and my personal life, but I think there comes a point when you just have to make time for yourself. I got over feeling guilty about this along time ago. What prompted me to think about it was a comment that a colleague made on Friday during our cooking class. Basically this woman said she felt guilty for taking three hours out to come and do something that wasn’t relate to work. I think this is how a lot of people feel, and I think it’s sad. You shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Everything gets done one way or the other.

I stayed up late last night baking two loaves of whole wheat bread for RJ to take home to various people. I’m officially in love with my bread machine. I’m making honey banana bread tomorrow. I’m also making this recipe that we learned in my cooking class on Friday:

Power Spheres

3/4 cup dried apricots
3/4 cup of dried apples
4 brown rice cakes
1 cup of unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup of sesame seeds
1 cup of rolled oats
1 1/4 cups of fruit sweetener
1/2 cup of natural peanut butter, slightly warmed

1. In food processor, pulse the apricots, apples and rice cakes to a fine mixture. Transfer to large bowl and set aside.

2. Next, pulse the coconut, seeds and oats to roughly combine. Add the fruit mixture. Also add the fruit sweetener and peanut butter.

3. Mix and combine. Chill for one hour.

4. Roll the dough into about 2 oz. balls. Roll in sesame seeds to combine. Serve or wrap in plastic and refrigerate.

*These make excellent healthy snacks.

RJ and I have decided to join a CSA (community supported agriculture). The name of the farm is Seldom Seen Farm and they’ve agreed to arrange a drop point at school, which is awesome. I’m going to put a link to their site under my “Worthy of a Look Section.” Check it out.