As Alice has reminded us, the theme for this month’s Scientiae is “transitions.” Seems like a totally appropriate thing to be contemplating as I gear up for the next academic year. A few months ago, I reflected on my lessons learned as a first year faculty member. I felt like I’d learned a lot but still had a ways to go before I really felt up to speed. Maybe it’s optimism generated by a few months away from the classroom, but now I’m feeling much more comfortable in my role as a not-quite-so-new member of the department.
For one thing, classes start in about a month, and I actually know what I’m teaching this semester! Last year was plagued by classes not making their required minimum enrollments and last minute switches in my schedule. This fall, one of my classes is still a bit low in numbers, but I know how to make the case that it be offered anyway (another class is over-enrolled and students will be urged to take mine instead). And, even if that class doesn’t “make,” I’ll just end up teaching the intro class for the third time.
For another thing, I’ve actually got research projects going that are not my PhD-work. Some are still in their infancy, but other grants are pending or in the revise-and-resubmit stage. I have someplace between 2 and 4 graduate students working with me (or soon to begin), and I have a project idea that I am just itching to do on my own. (There’s even a perfect session for it at a winter conference – I’ve just got to gather some data before the abstract deadline!)
For a third thing, the horribly unbloggable academic politics mess that embroiled my first year seems to be settling down thanks to a firm hand from higher in the administration. We’ve got a new chair and a new sense of departmental mission. I’m hopeful that
everyonemost people can go back to playing nicely with one another (we’re talking about a cool collaborative grant proposal) and leave behind the egos and hurt feelings of last year. (Hmmm…maybe I am too optimistic on this point).
Finally, Minnow is more independent
every daymost days. Her increasingly impressive vocabulary makes it a lot easier to communicate with her and we’ve finally got the sleeping thing somewhat under control. (maybe) This academic year will probably also see the weaning and potty training processes begin, so, when complete, those will be nice accomplishments.
Right now I’m really looking forward to the next year and I hope I can the momentum and optimism I feel right now through the weeks and months ahead. ‘Cause otherwise it’s a long time ’til next May.