Saturday, January 9, 2010

Spring 2010: First Week in Review

I hope your first days of class--Wednesday, Thursday, or today--went well.

We finally got the schedule finished Friday the 1st, so thanks to everyone for your continued patience and willingness to accommodate an unusual number of shifting needs for full time faculty as this term came into focus during December.

A couple of notes as we get started:

1. I know that for many of you the logistics of your schedule are less than ideal. As a reminder, the master schedule is produced by articulating class size to room size, with little to no consideration of other factors (like pedagogical needs), so our classes pay for smaller size with smaller (and typically less desirable) rooms.

Second, like many of you, full time faculty members have also been scheduled to rush too far across campus in too little time. I've also spent my first couple of class days figuring out how to get from Trades to LA in 10 minutes; it may take a couple more days, but I think we can all figure out ways to make it work.

Third, there's also the challenge of having to deal with unpredictable resources in the classrooms--like going from a fully wired room in LA to one with a chalkboard and overhead only in Trades. Again, this is a situation that's shared by full time faculty as well (myself included), and we simply have to make do. Please do though try to take advantage of media resources available for checkout in Trades and other more remote campus locations. You can get a key card for the media closet on the 6th floor of Trades from the circulation desk in the library.

2. We were unable to assign any part time instructors to fourth sections. Not only were some of you hoping for that possibility, I was as well, since it's an option that's been instrumental to our successfully completing the schedule in past terms. This change has been burdensome all around, and I hope to see the fourth class option return in future terms.

3. For the time being, we will not be able to offer monthly professional development meetings. I'll be working to get those reinstated some time in the semester though, since I enjoy being able to see you all and I believe the meetings are an essential part of a successful program. In the meantime, we'll use the listserv and blog to distribute information, and I hope more of you will become contributors to the blog. More online participation will help us at least to use that resource to share successes and share strategies for addressing challenges.

4. Please provide Meredith ( with electronic copies of your syllabi as soon as you can--let's say by the end of the second week of classes. We have to increase the rate of participation, so you'll probably see me more aggressively pursuing you to turn in your materials earlier in the term than in the past.

On that note, the same goes for portfolios. Thanks to those of you who did turn in portfolios from fall 09, and I'm sure that more of you will be able to get your in now that we're all back on campus (there's a drop box on Meredith's desk). We are committed to building a successful assessment instrument for our program, and as Gae Lyn showed last year, the portfolio is, according to the field's best practices, the way to get this started. Please ensure that you will be able to provide end-of-term portfolios for all of your first year writing courses for all students randomly selected. If you need a reminder on required portfolio elements, let me know.

5. Finally, we're expanding the piloting of two possible texts for Engl 2010/2020. We'll keep you informed of the progress of the pilot and the plan for shifting to a new text in the coming academic year.

That's probably enough information for now. My thanks to each of you for all of your work and contributions to the program and the university. See you in the halls.