Tomorrow

Nov. 20th, 2011 10:52 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
I'm meeting with my boss tomorrow for a whole host of reasons, though the big one is the online teaching seminar

I am thinking about refusing to do the stupid two month long project. If that means quitting the seminar, I can live with that. I have enough of a tech background to do a hybrid class without them.

Besides, the seminar is wasting two months on that dumb ass project. It's not like it's spending that time having us develop lesson plans and bounce those ideas off of each other.

I mean, that would be useful.
oxymoron67: (Default)
By and large, I've enjoyed the online teaching seminar.

Until today.

Today, we ended up learning how to do wikis and inquiry-based learning.

Seminar leader: You need to use wikis for group work.
Me: What if you don't do group work?
SL: Everyone does group work.
Me: Not me. Group work favors the lazy and unmotivated at the expense of the students who give a damn. I refuse to play into that.
SL: Oh.. that's right. You have issues with group work.

Still, the discussion on wikis was fine: it was interesting and on point.

Then came the Inquiry based learning. Or as I like to refer to it, Hell.

For the inquiry based learning part, we were split into three groups. My group was given three pages of directions in block paragraphs of doom and eight point font.

The first thing we were told to do was READ THE DIRECTIONS ALOUD. See, the directions are so complicated, that we have to read them aloud so that everyone can understand them, because if different group members interpret the directions differently, this all falls apart.

My thoughts? I'm not in fucking second grade. And given how this was explained a SECOND time, while the discussion leader was staring directly at me, my reaction was probably written all over my face. Further if the directions are THAT complex and THAT up for interpretation,. someone did not do their job when they wrote them.

Also, anyone who has done the research on reading aloud in a classroom situation knows that no comprehension actually happens during these exercises. The person reading is too busy focusing on the reading to worry about comprehension and the other people are all not paying attention because they;re worried about when they're going to have to read. Reading aloud in class is useless.

Since I was the "speech person" in my group, I was chosen to read the document. So I did. Including all the abundant typos.

First, my group had to look at two photos. These photos were of Native Americans, some in traditional garb, some in Western garb. Both photos were taken in perhaps the saddest portrait studio I've ever seen. Honestly, it looked like a repurposed kitchen.

The shot with the traditionally garbed Native Americans? In the center of the shot, there was this... thing. A sack? An oddly positioned desk? A sadly deformed desk? The other shot had three (I assumed) brothers dressed in identical outfits while a fern and mirrors were in the background. For all the world, it looked like they were in a barbershop.

We were supposed to write a reaction to these photos. This reaction could be a poem, a story or a brief essay. My group members all wrote observations in essay format. I decided to do mine entirely in haiku. Mostly because it was the only way to keep myself interested in this bullshit assignment.

See after this, we're supposed to brainstorm something, then get back together and answer a bunch of stupid questions, then we split up again and answer another bunch of idiotic questions (for reflection!) then write up a bunch of crap to be put on the wiki.

The way I've described this is much more straightforward than the assignment itself.

This isn't going to help me. I'm not going to write up a poorly conceived, badly proofwritten, needlessly convoluted, two month long group work assignment. That's painful for everyone, with absolutely no upside.

If this is what inquiry based learning is, it needs to be taken out back and shot, like Old Yeller.

And it will continue to be a colossal waste of my time until Jan. 20th. I don't appreciate that. My time is valuable.

Now, if they had given us the theory for inquiry based learning and said "come up with something for your discipline"? Maybe that would have worked. But not this. This is utter fucking bullshit.
oxymoron67: (roll eye)
I'm updating this journal from my computer! In my office!

After over three weeks!

And six Not Much Help Desk tickets!

Why over three weeks?

Simple. Due to budget cuts, the Not Much Help Desk now only deals with computers in computer labs or the library. If the computer is in an office or not a computer that students use? No their responsibility.

When was this decision made? No one knows. It just apparently came into force, without anyone at IT telling anyone.

I'll admit, it's a great way to limit workload: refuse to help people because of a never-published change in policy. This way, the Not Much Help Desk can just delete all the office complaints. Since the folks dealing with the malfunctioning office computers were not given anyone else to contact, IT can say that, to their knowledge, the office computers are working fine.

After all, someone would have let them know if office computers were malfunctioning, right?

It's devious.

OR

It's stupid and ill-thought out.

Your choice.

Meantime, I'll be showing my students how to put together the pictures for their States Projects today. We use Winodws Movie Maker to assemble the project. I'm always a little scared* by this process: will they listen? Or will I have an entire class of projects that include the further adventures of the Sux (Sioux) Indians as they hunt the Bee-joan (bison) in the weed fields of Kansas and attackt their mortal enemies, the Apashays (Apaches) in the vast pine forests of Arizona, which are ideal for family hiking, what with their huge inland lakes.

*I originally typed "scarred" here. It's appropriate, too.

We'll also have a quiz about -ed and -s endings. The student who has been absent the midterm and all but one quiz? Will she show up? Ooo... the tension!
oxymoron67: (Default)
I still don't have internet access in my office at work. The Not Much Help Desk first said it was the connection, so we swapped the wires. No luck, Then they said it was the computer, because they got they;re laptop to work on the connection.

They, however, did not take the computer to fix it, nor did they try to diagnose exactly what was wrong. They just left. According tot hem, they solved the problem on the Help Desk Ticket (though they hadn't), so I have to fill out ANOTHER one (the fourth, for those keeping track) to get them to look at the computer.

I was in a meeting in another building at the time or I would have raised Hell.

Hey, if they want to play this game, I will play it. I will stalk them. I will make them miserable. This seems to be the only way to get things done with them, which, frankly, I don't understand, but whatever.

This has lead to other problems. All the reservations for the Speech Center are done online. I do not accept requests over the phone. It's been my experience that this policy reduces the number of miscommunications.

Also, a great deal of my class is online. My students submit their homework online, normally through Blackboard, occasionally via e-mail.

So, right now, I can either be in office or doing my job. Not both.

On a happier note, our five new digital camcorders came in yesterday. We'll be giving them all test runs next week.

Next week, I will be judging the preliminary round of the Speech Contest. This is cool. I kind of enjoy it, actually.

Work

Oct. 21st, 2010 10:57 am
oxymoron67: (Default)
Sometimes I hate my workplace. This is especially true after departmental meeting day, which was yesterday. We'll get to that in a later post.

But first, let's talk about Spirit Day on my campus. Yesterday, you know, they day when we were supposed to wear purple to show our support for the LGBT community?

Well, here is an e-mail about this from my college:

The Health Services Center invites everyone to show their support in ending domestic violence by wearing Purple on Wednesday October 20th!


Where I am (in a community college in freaking NYC), we can't just devote a day to the GLBT youth. Nope. It had to be about something else. The GLBT folks just aren't worthy of having an entire day to themselves.

Am I saying that domestic violence isn't an important issue? Of course not. I just think it interesting that someone, somewhere decided to co-opt the day.

I admit to having mixed feelings about the whole "Purple is for GLBT!" thing, but to just shove that aside is remarkably insensitive.
oxymoron67: (Default)
But this got to me today.

One of our new professors made a reservation to use the speech lab. Normally. this would be fine, even good. However....

This professor is going to be in Kuwait for a week for a conference. She has been looking for substitutes for her classes... however, she doesn't think she needs to pay anyone for this and the department won't.

As a result, no one is willing to substitute. I was asked, I said no. Well, almost no one... a first term adjunct was pretty much coerced into doing it, as well as one another adjunct who seems to be incapable of saying "no."

This new professor? She was also the one who spent the first day of classes IN HER OFFICE... not you know, teaching her classes.

She's clearly a keeper.

Anyway, I will not babysit her students. She needs to get a substitute. Why?

1) She is paid to teach her students... I and my staff are not.

2) It sets a dangerous precedent. I've had arguments with professors who would just walk in and start playing on-line, thinking that my staff and I would do everything, and they could just there with there thumbs up their asses. I've informed them that it's still their class, their responsibility.

Tomorrow should be fun.
oxymoron67: (Default)
... and I'm already annoyed.

Okay, this isn't the fault of this job. Well, not totally. It started yesterday.

First off, like many, I forgot Daylight Savings Time started yesterday*. So, I got up late for the SAT skills class that started on Sunday. (I also teach one on Saturday, as well as working a full time job AND teaching an extra class there. Free time? Who needs it?)

Fortunately, my Sunday class is an afternoon class, so I wasn't late.

A parent showed up and promptly bitched me out because the class is being held in Forest Hills, not in the neighborhood where she lives. She interrupted the class, as she (and her daughter) was late. I was very... um... short with her. Why? You don;t burst into a room where something is going on and start shrieking. Really. Manners.

Then I dealt with the class itself. The students were saying that the SAT made them "learn vocabulary that they'll never use."

I went off on them, pointing out that a lack of vocabulary will kill them in English classes. (Also, when did words like "augment" or "ambivalent" become difficult?)

Then, this morning the new term started. Welcome to chaos.

*Honestly this is just as well. Since today is the first day of classes here and daylight savings time had already started, I can avoid the following conversation:
Me: You're over a half hour late.
Student: Well, daylight savings time...
Me: That was two weeks ago.
Student: It confused me.
Me: Also, this class starts at 8:05 IN THE EVENING.
(Yes, I've had this conversation.)
oxymoron67: (Default)
I started a new SAT class on St. John's campus yesterday.
Weird ass day. )
oxymoron67: (Default)
One of my colleagues (and another junior faculty member) received a death threat from one his students via e-mail.

Our campus security did NOT A FUCKING THING.

Student isn't suspended/warned/tranquilized and sent to a mental hospital/nothing.

Said student shows up in class(!) and pulls what looks like a gun out of her purse, and points it at the instructor.

It turns out to be a toy, but still: why wasn't campus security making this prof, I don't know, secure?

The entire thing is being swept under the carpet, and the professor is afraid to say/do anything because if he does, he thinks they may not give him tenure.

Exactly how many different ways is this wrong? Beyond the whole "What kind of asshole would deliver a death threat and then show up with a toy gun?" issue, we've got the "what kind of campus security refuses to eliminate someone who made a documented threat against a professor" issue and, of course, "what kind of administration threatens people to silence it?" issue

(In the administration's defense, they may not have made such a threat, but I wouldn't put it past them. )
oxymoron67: (no bear)
This is long. )

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