Saturday, August 9, 2008

I'm back

Here I am in Deep South Town. In the past week, I have gone camping in the Great Smoky Mountains, moved into the new apartment, posted the course grades for the summer class, acquired some new plants and utterly failed to assemble a bookcase, attended New Faculty Orientation and a party at my chair's house, and, rather oddly, gone out drinking with the local Chief of Police. How was everyone else's week?

I have Internet access at home, as of yesterday, but for some reason I have utterly failed in my attempts to access any work-related sites. Only fun sites. I'm not as broken up about this as I probably should be, although I guess I should do something about it. I keep getting "Sorry, we could not find this page" messages about the majority of the web pages in the state university system, and my login for WebCT doesn't seem to work. (It is remotely -- REMOTELY -- possible that all of the state university sites are down, but I suspect something more sinister is at work.)

I have been assigned a Mentor. I am starting to think this may be a mixed blessing, as she is very nice, but our approaches to pedagogy seem to be ... somewhat at odds. She said Dire Things about the students' reading and writing skills, and then finished off by saying she no longer assigns papers in her 200-level lit classes because they were so awful. Well, dude. How are they supposed to learn to write papers if they don't WRITE any? (On looking at her syllabus, it appears that the students are reading about twice as much in my 200-level Brit Lit survey as they are in hers. Perhaps this is overambitious. Then again, perhaps it will encourage the lazy students to drop, and since I have a total of ONE HUNDRED AND ONE students this semester, mass drops would be a good thing.) Anyway, I'm inclined to ignore most of the Dire Things she said about student literacy, because honesty, I had colleagues who said the same things at New SLAC, and they weren't true for the most part, and the average ACT scores here are pretty much identical to those at New SLAC.

We have had some meetings about Assessment, and Assessing the Assessment, and Assessing the Assessment of the Assessment. I felt sort of guilty for playing Buzzword Bingo in the first one, but then it turned out that everyone else was doing much the same, except for a few people who are really earnest about Assessment. Anyway, it appears that there will be a great many more meetings about this topic. I am tempted to come up with some Anti-Assessment buzzwords. ("When you assess, you make an ass out of essment"? All right, maybe not.)

Classes start on Wednesday. I'm not ready.

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