Tag: Humble Brags

Progress is Impossible Without Change

Wow.  Yeah, so as you (all 2 of you…maybe) reading this can see, I absolutely suck at writing this blog when I am not in school.  This is my stress relief, and when I reach this magical point at the end of the semester where I’m mostly done, I no longer need some sort of creative outlet.

I finished my first year of grad school – with a 4.0.  I was commended for my hard work.  I was assigned to an ungodly number of projects.  I had plans to work my face off all Summer (despite knowing damn well that would never happen with all 5 kids in the house).  I also had plans to take it easy my second year.

No one else in my department had those plans for me.

I was informed over the summer that I was changing offices.  I would now be on another floor (with the anthropology department!) and I was worried.  Was I a pariah?  Did I anger my office-mates?  Was I now the bastard child of my department?  Thankfully, the answer was no.  I later found out that I was actually being promoted to lab manager.  I am now co-manager of the behavior lab and our big fancy physiology lab.  That’s pretty awesome.  I really like my co-manager, and we now share an office.  It’s a nice office too.  It has its own refrigerator, microwave, and toaster oven.  I feel that the toaster oven is a bit overkill, but I’m not going to complain.  I can have toasted something whenever the hell I want, and I can lord it over the plebeians from my ivory tower.  Or not.  I’m so not that kind of person.

My sweet new digs are really quite nice.  I’m 3 floors higher, have a MUCH better view, and it is a lot quieter.  Maybe I will get more work done this way.

I also received my TA (Teaching Assistant) assignment – I will be working with one of the big guys in the department (the same one from Spring).  I’m pretty excited about that.  I’ll be honest – I am in way over my head with this (or at least I feel like I am).  Because we actually teach at my university, I am going to be teaching about the genetic basis for ideology.  I’ve read several articles, studied it a bit, but I’m not certain in my material.  I am basically praying for some sort of miracle – only I’m not actually religious so I’m not sure how that’s working out for me.

This semester I have 3 classes to take, a class to teach with 120 students, I’m a co-lab manager, I’m on 6 research projects, and I’m going to spend my semester working on my dissertation.  Oh, and I have my own undergrad RA (Research Assistant) to train and supervise.  What am I doing with my life?!?

But really – I am really excited for the many opportunities that have opened themselves up for me.  I am thankful for such an amazing department.  I hear about (and saw the fallout from) these horror stories from some departments, and I am so lucky that mine is a solid, congenial, positive department.  I am so glad I chose to come to this random state that I had never ever considered living in before.  I am glad that I chose the university, not based on ranking, but on who I wanted to work with and how I felt about the people.  I am glad that I had such amazing mentors who prepared me for grad school (or at least prepared me the best that they could).   I am honored to have the friends I have – those that support me and make going through grad school such an amazing experience.

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I’m a Big Bear

Today was a very abnormal day.  Instead of having class, I had an on-campus conference to attend.  The Journalism department hosted a really great event on political communication (which is right up my alley).  We even had a professor from the department presenting late in the day.  An even bigger surprise was that a professor from a really great university in a neighboring state was closing out the conference.

This is simply not just any professor.  This guy is a badass in his own right.  He used to teach at my university but went on to greener pastures.  He has been published numerous times, and he knows my undergrad advisor, mentor, friend.  They publish a lot together.  They do a lot of projects together, and now I met him.  I met this really great guy.  At first I was sad because it seemed like he didn’t give 2 craps about meeting me (despite my saying that I was a student of ____).  Here I was – hoping to make a connection that may lead to research glory, but it didn’t seem like it was meant to be.

Apparently at some point during that beautiful 9 hour long conference, he had inquired about me to another professor in the department (one I don’t know well because she has been called up on high (administration)).  She admitted that she didn’t know me very well but that she has heard great things about me.  This was enough.

Following the conference, I found myself in the company of him, the chair of the department, the graduate chair, and a couple professors.  We were chit-chatting.  The visiting professor asked me about my interests and whether or not I knew R (the statistical programming language/software) and I was able to say yes.  I told him that I had been well trained and was interested in political communication.

I was then asked by the chair of the department to go out to dinner with everyone.  I said that I could but that it wasn’t necessary to extend the offer because I felt like I would be intruding.  He dismissed my concern and we all went to dinner.  We went to a fancy restaurant.  I ordered $15 chicken (which yes, I realize isnt all that fancy but in this state and at grad student pay, that’s expensive).  It was simply delicious and the most amazing thing I have ever eaten.  We had great conversation and laughed.  It was fantastic to be around these people.  I felt like I belonged.

I was asked to keep in touch with the visiting professor as we parted ways.  I hope that this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship that yields research glory.  In any event, I went out with professors as the lone grad student who was invited.  I AM A BIG BEAR!

Apparently, I’m hott.

Ever google yourself?  We all do, I’m sure.  It had been a little while for me, but I had finally gotten my act together and put up my info and picture on the graduate student directory of my university.  I’m official.  Because I felt like I was somebody, I felt like I should now google myself to see how cool I am.

I did.  And it was awkward AF.

Apparently a student decided that they needed to let a secret out in the world of the web-based app Whisper.  That secret was that “The grad assistant (insert name and university) is hott.”

I don’t really know how to feel about this new-found information.  I don’t know who would have written that.  It is very strange and weird.  I’m older (mid-30’s) and most of my students are 18-21 years old.

Until that moment of discovery, I had always thought I would want a chili pepper on Rate My Professor; however, I now understand just how awkward that validation of hotness is.

Student Evaluations

Student Evals came in on Thursday.  I was waiting for this moment all winter break.  It was finally time to see what my students thought of me.

I’m going to interrupt my excitement to bring you a public service announcement.  IF you ever find yourself in the unique position of reading your student evaluations right before you run off to meet your new set of students for the new semester – DO NOT READ THEM.  Put them down and walk away.

Yeah, so I didn’t have anyone to tell me that.

I read them.  I must say that I was very pleased, for the most part.  They were asked what I did well and what I could improve upon.  Simple.  More than half of the evaluations actually wrote that there was nothing I could improve upon.  I had some students write “She was great” or “she was amazing” in that section.  I had a few who left that part blank, which I suppose I could have counted in the no improvement needed section, but for some reason I feel uncomfortable assuming that a blank space means I didn’t need to improve to that student.

Other places where I needed to improve were:  I should have told whether I was liberal or conservative.  That student couldn’t tell and it drove her nuts.  (I would say I won the day on that one!!)  Another suggested that I should use more hot button issues (I honestly have no idea how I could have included more without getting fired but ok).  I had several say that they wish I had given them more feedback on the writing assignments (I had been told by the professor in charge of me that I was not to do that unless they asked for it individually, so totally a pass on that one), a few said they didn’t understand the grading system.  And 6 students said that they felt I treated them like they were children.  (Insert sobbing)

I felt terrible!   I think I know who those students were because they were all lumped together and said the same thing (word for word) – and that was my bad class.  They weren’t bad, but they were just that one class that was hard to get anything out of, and they were moody and I had to drag them along every single week.  But really, I felt like crap.  I would never ever want my students to feel like they were being talked down to – ever.  They all had something good to say about me too, but it was just hard hearing that.  It affected me entirely.

The worst comment is that one of my students said that she felt that I was so knowledgeable that she felt like she couldn’t come ask me questions because she would feel stupid.  That broke my heart.  I couldn’t work the AV equipment half of the time, so I don’t know how I appeared to be this unapproachable person who had their crap together.  I said dumb things, I ran into stuff, I struggled with technology.  It just made me sad that she felt that way.

Okay….now to the good.  I had about 40% mention that I was knowledgeable.  Actually, one said that I knew everything about the subject.  Ha.  Approachable = 6; Caring = 5; Respectful of everyone’s views = 13; Energetic and Enthusiastic = 21; Passionate = 5; Prepared = 6; Encouraged Full Participation = 18; Made Class Fun = 21; Good sense of humor = 10; Open Minded = 7

One said that he appreciated that I never yielded to the class when no one would answer my questions.  Another said that I “made it worth coming to class instead of lecture.  Learned more here.  Enjoyed my time in here.”  So yeah – that one said he/she learned more from my class than from the lecture (by a real professor).  That one made me cringe because I don’t want a target on my back – yet it was still pretty awesome.  I had a lot of great feedback.  I am definitely taking the negative things to heart and will try to change them for this semester, and I hope I will have great feedback at the end of this semester as well.