College Math Teaching

September 29, 2013

Post Sabbatical Post

Filed under: academia — Tags: , — collegemathteaching @ 1:09 am

The American Mathematical Society blog had a post about post-sabbatical life:

Even though it’s only been a month since I moved back to Maine, pre-tenure leave seems like a distant memory. I expected that the change would be abrupt, especially since I was traveling and trying to do research pretty much until the day I got in my car in Austin, Texas to drive back to Portland. But I did not expect to feel this busy and overwhelmed. In this post, I share a few thoughts on the return to my regular life after my magical sabbatical.

When I was thinking about writing a blog post about my rude post-sabbatical awakening, there were a couple of things causing me writer’s block. The first, ironically enough, is that I felt overwhelmed and it’s very hard to write when your mind is thinking of all the things you need to do. The second was that I didn’t really see a point in writing a post where I complain without offering anything to the reader (I like my rants to be useful, to some extent). So I needed to think about why I wanted to write about being stressed out after sabbatical. Why do I feel this way, and what lesson can be learned from all this?

Ok, I am not in the same situation. I am NOT young, my job is a 11-12 hour teaching load job (101 students total this semester) and my sabbatical was “full pay for one semester”, which, of course, is better than zero.

On sabbatical, I spent some time merely getting up to enough speed (reviewing technical stuff) to be able to write a paper, which was submitted. I also worked on an already accepted paper that needed revisions.

But this article was about coming back.

Challenges? Well, I left having had taught older, more mature students.

Back: I have an “off semester” calculus II course which consists of some very talented students who placed out of calculus I, some who just got to calculus II because they needed a year of remedial work and some who have flunked one (or more) of their previous calculus courses. So I have a mix of students including some sharp ones and some who literally cannot compute \int e^{3x} dx

Then in differential equations: some highly talented students, some motivated students, and one case that I talked about earlier. One often doesn’t think about having to “manage” a classroom at the college level, but that can be reality in the days of “mainstreaming special needs students” and not a challenge that I anticipated.

Then there is the usual committee work; some of it important.

BUT: I had a sabbatical and that is a luxury. And I have a job.

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