Tag: teaching

Day in the Life of a Professor/Student/Father/Husband/Son

So it’s been over a month since I posted. I have had stuff I thought to post, but never quite got around to it. To help show why, here’s a run down of yesterday. It was a bit busier, but not too far from a typical day. Also, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a complaint. Even if it feels like a semester long marathon, it still beats sitting in an office in a career I really don’t like.

  • Midnight – still up reading articles out of my business ethics textbooks finalizing what to lecture on
  • 1:30am – unwind by reading a couple chapters in a fun novel to help settle before bed
  • 2:00 am – sleep
  • 7:15 am – alarm goes off
  • 7:20 am – get out of bed, and start waking up kids. Samantha chastises me for not waking her up earlier. 😉
  • 7:30-8:20 am – help get kids ready for school, make lunches, and get them out the door more or less on time
  • 8:30 am – get clothes in the dryer so I have something to wear
  • 8:40 am – eat breakfast, check email, play a silly Facebook game
  • 9:00 am – continue business ethics reading
  • 11:00 am – little more silly Facebook game, shower
  • 11:30 am – wash a couple pots and pans, get some lunch, download Jane Austen’s Emma on audiobook to listen to on the drive (although I like Jane Austen, it’s not my top pick for driving, but I need to read it for one of my classes)
  • noon – drop off confidentiality form with my advisor for a ethics debriefing at a local hospital this evening, chat for a few minutes
  • 12:10 pm – start heading to the highway to drive up to Alma
  • 12:20 pm – realize I forgot all my books, turn around
  • 12:30 pm – get my books, make a couple Law & Order jokes since Diana is watching Svu (pronounced svoo)
  • 12:40 pm – drive to Alma, remember that I haven’t talked to my family in weeks and decide I really need to call them soon
  • 1:40 pm – get to office hours a little late, but no one shows anyway, which is alright since I still need to type my PowerPoint presentation (Keynote on iPad actually, simple but very effective)
  • 2:30 pm – Business Ethics. Talk about Relativism, discuss some international business issues.
  • 3:30 pm – end class a little early since discussion was winding down and I need to get back to Lansing for the Ethics Debrief (ended a little earlier than I wanted to, which I don’t like, but I’ll try to pack Thursday’s class more to make up for it, and I really don’t want to be late.)
  • 4:40 pm – Get down to the hospital, start looking around for the 8S conference room. When I ask at the Information desk, they reply “Uh… I guess that is 8th floor in the South Wing, I suppose.” and points me to the proper elevators. I’m not reassured.
  • 4:55 pm – After being unsure of just walking onto one of the hospital floors among the patient rooms I ask where this conference room is and find out I’m standing 5 feet from it. (It is labeled “The Conference Room” on a whiteboard that is half erased.)
  • 5:10 pm – The nurses  arrive and my advisor leads an interesting ethics debrief about pain management stemming from an issue they had recently with a patient. Ends with coming up with some recommendations that my advisor will pass along to their Ethics Board and the nursing supervisor will start pushing with her superiors.
  • 6:20 pm – Get home. Check on Diana (who is feeling sick and is lying in bed).
  • 6:30 pm – Heat up some leftovers for myself and a make a quesadilla for Samantha (her favorite make-it-real-quick meal)
  • 6:50 pm – Take Samantha and her friend to girl scouts. Break the news to the other troop co-leader that Diana is sick in bed. Find out no other parents look like they are staying, so I might need to skip class to help out (which I’m not sure I mind since I haven’t finished the reading for tonight anyway)
  • 7:00 pm – Another mom shows up and plans on staying, so I am told to go to class.
  • 7:15 pm – Get to class right behind my professor who is thankfully running late (he let us know earlier, so I knew I had some extra time tonight)
  • 8:55 pm – Have a break and call home to see how everyone is feeling and make sure Samantha got home from girl scouts ok, see an email from my Dad and feel bad that I still haven’t called them for weeks
  • 10:00 pm – Get out of class and head home
  • 10:30 pm – Get settled in and decide to read for fun and leave school reading for tomorrow
  • Midnight – After reading the same page 5 times and still having no idea what it says, decide to get to bed early.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my long days since I have both Alma teaching and seminars at night, but Mondays and Wednesdays are usually pretty full with reading as well. It was also a bit busier because Diana was sick.

She had a long night last night since she was up until 2am working on Owen’s costume for “dress like your favorite book character” day, and then slept on the couch* until 5am when Ella came downstairs and started puking. So she hasn’t had it easy either.

Ah the joys of trying to balance all the roles in life. Still haven’t balanced it out very well, but we’re managing. And I really will call my family soon.

* Note: Diana was just sleeping on the couch to not wake me up coming to bed. But I was sleeping so deep, I didn’t even know she wasn’t there.

Easiest dissertation ever!

On Thursday when I got to my office up in Alma, I had a bit of a surprise. They not only had a nameplate for the office, but apparently they awarded me an honorary doctorate!!

Dr Ken Marable??
Guess I don't need to go to class this week.

Woohoo, go me!

The Start of Teaching

Three weeks down and I can finally get around to taking stock of how it has been. Technically, I started taking stock last week, but this week I can finally get around to writing about it. 😉

A lot of my focus has obviously been the class I am teaching on my own up at Alma. However, I need to watch out and maintain a balance with the class I am assisting with here at MSU. It’s all too easy to shift my attention too much in one direction.

With the Alma course, two things surprised me the most right from the start. Number 1 – planning a course is a heck of a lot of work!! I mean A LOT. I knew going in that it would take quite a bit of effort, but it is one of those areas that the deeper you go, the more you realize really needs to be done. I definitely understand why some professors like to teach the same class again, because a lot of the prep work is already done.

Second thing to surprise me was my comfort. The first day I was in a panic about having to fill 90 minutes twice a week and having a clue what I was doing. So far, however, I have regularly been either covering my material within a few minutes of the end of class, or having a couple small bits left when time runs out. My plans have been fitting with the timing just fine.

Now, I’m certainly not an awesome teacher by any stretch of the imagination, but I was worried I would be starting off much worse. Thankfully, right from the start I’m comfortable enough not to freak out (but worried enough not to coast), and am actually able to start “meta-thinking” during and between classes. In other words, not just trying to teach the material, but looking at my teaching itself and how to do it better. Am I addressing all of the students? Am I holding interest? Are there better ways to present this material? etc. I figured I wouldn’t be able to reflect on my teaching (especially while teaching) until later on. Since I can do it from the start, hopefully I can improve things quickly and make the class worthwhile.

One fun story is from when Samantha gave me some teaching advice. I mentioned after one class that I asked the students about the first article they were supposed to read, and a lot of people chimed in with comments. But when I asked about the second and third… crickets chirped. So it felt like they mostly read the first article and skipped the rest. Samantha suggested that maybe I should give them planners so that they can track their reading and make sure they do it all.

Her other piece of advice was not to turn around and look at the board too much. “That’s when they pass notes,” she said. I told her that I hope she doesn’t know that from personal experience, but I would certainly keep it in mind. Now when next I teach, I will try to add in amongst the other tips I try to keep track of to make sure not to turn my back too much so they can pass notes. If nothing else, I’ll think of her teaching advice and then I won’t need to remember the tip to keep smiling.

Professor Marable

I received my first email from a student addressed to “Professor Marable”. She wanted to know if she could be added the course (it filled up on the second day of registration) so that she can fit in a Philosophy minor.

I said no in the meanest way, of course.

Just kidding, I said it was fine, but had to consult with Diana on how to sign the email. Signing it “Prof. Marable” seemed pretentious and weird. My usual “-Ken” is too informal. I don’t have an actual signature (never had much interest, plus my email account is used for too many different purposes to have a single sig that is appropriate). We decided on just “Ken Marable”.

These are the important issues you face when becoming a college professor.