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Stack of Books
Posted on Tuesday 26 January 2010 at 10:10 am

Here we come...

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After a year and a half of just working on my dissertation (and not getting anywhere), I have to work for my money this semester. I'm a Teaching Assistant for a Global History class. For this particular class, this means sitting through lectures every Monday and Wednesday and about 1/3 of the Fridays of the semester. The other 2/3 of the Fridays, I have to lead discussion sections. Each discussion section has about 12 students in it and I have four of them, all back-to-back. Needless to say, by the end of the day on those Fridays, I will be exhausted. Since it is the same material for all discussions, there is only one set of prep, but talking about it all four times in a row is going to be so draining. The first discussion section is this Friday and I'm not looking forward to it. We're discussing firearms and nomads in China, Russia, and the Mid East in the 1300s to 1500s. Care to guess how much a colonial American historian like me has studied this?

In addition to leading the discussion sections, I have to do all the grading for my approximately 50 students. This will be five two-page papers, two worksheets, and three tests per student. According to the people who have TAed this class before, it is the grading that is the worst part. They say it is extremely time consuming and you are lucky if you can get it all done in 60 hours and you won't get anything done on your dissertation all semester. This just isn't acceptable to me. I'm going to try very hard to be on campus all day Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and get all the class stuff done on those days, work on the dissertation Tuesdays, Thursdays, and one weekend day each week, and have the other weekend day free for things like groceries, laundry, and just maybe fun. We'll see if this works out. I'm also hoping that on weeks when I don't have as much grading I'll be able to use the time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to start prepping a syllabus for the class I'll be teaching in the fall. If I can get some work done on that now, then I'll be able to focus on the dissertation all summer rather than dividing the summer between class prep and dissertation, which would be nice.

A few other quick tidbits before I leave you to go about your day (or go to bed or whatever depending on what time it is where you are when you see this):
  • I wanted to get both seasons of the Monkees on DVD. I could find season 2, but after much internet searching I could only find season 1 online for $150-$200. I finally tracked down a copy at a store in Houston. Unfortunately it was on the wrong side of Houston and about 30 miles from my parents'. They spent their Saturday morning this past weekend making the 60 mile round trip just to get me season 1 of the Monkees. Aren't they cool?

  • I really want to learn to play the harmonica. There is a possibility I could do it through the school, but I think I'd have to wait 'til the fall to start and I don't want to do that so I'm looking for other options.

  • I'm trying to use Windows Live Sync to keep my two computers in sync so I don't have to manually move files or remember which copy was the most recently updated or whatever. It worked beautifully when I first set it up when I had both computers at home. I want to keep one laptop on campus, but the firewall on the campus wifi network is causing problems. Sometimes the sync can go through and sometimes it is blocked. I'm still hopeful I can get this to work, but we'll see.

  • Apparently my sister's brother-in-law, Kyle, has started dating a woman he knows from work. I might make a full post about this later, but for now I'll just say I think everyone is treating Kyle pretty shittily over this just because the woman happens to be black (I think this is the real problem for most of the people involved) and the mother of four (everyone claims this and their fears of the way society would treat an interracial couple rather than their own underlying race prejudices are the reasons they have problems but the actions don't match the words and I don't see the deal breaker problem even if what they are saying is true).


train_lindz at 3:46 pm on 26 January 2010 (UTC) (Link)
I feel like I haven't seen you around for so long!

Can you mark while you are sitting through the lectures?

Personally, I'd be more concerned about the 4 kids purely for the fact that kids can be scary and four kids are a lot to become an insta!parent to :)
bratty_jedi at 2:05 am on 27 January 2010 (UTC) (Link)
I've been reading the flist, but I've been terrible about posting or commenting. I'll try to do better!

I'm not sure. My fellow TA and I sit in the very back, so no fear of anyone looking over our shoulders or the prof paying much attention to us, but we don't have desks / a table so it might be difficult to maneuver. I'll certainly give it a shot.

I think the kids are definitely something he should consider and something that those closest to him may want to say "Hey, have you considered how you're going to handle this?" and "If you ever need to talk about this, I'm here for you." I just don't understand how any of it is ground for anybody else to say "Well, clearly you should end the relationship with her immediately and clearly you don't know what's best for you and can't manage your own life so I'm going to tell you what to do or go behind your back and tell other people things you don't want them to know so they'll tell you what to do," which is basically what has happened.
labellerose at 3:52 pm on 26 January 2010 (UTC) (Link)
Have fun being a TA! It was certainly one of the most surreal (but rewarding) experiences of my checkered career.
Gratuitous piece of advice-Rubrics are your new best friend.
bratty_jedi at 2:06 am on 27 January 2010 (UTC) (Link)
I've TAed discussion sections of large classes before, though it was several years ago at this point and this time I have twice as many sections / students as I did before.
littlepixiechic at 4:27 pm on 30 January 2010 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, sounds like you're in for a busy semester! Firearms and nomads from the 1300s to 1500s don't sound that fun to me, either. I also think you should post a new glow worm picture (if you haven't already, apparently I'm bad at keeping up on lj).

bratty_jedi at 9:40 pm on 02 February 2010 (UTC) (Link)
Whoops. I did forget to post the new glo worm pic when I got back from the grandparents. I'll try to get on that later today.

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