And you thought being a student was hard...

Before my time as a Communication professor at Ivy Tech, I spent many years doing corporate and organizational training. When I decided to become an instructor, I thought it couldn't be much different from what I did for companies. Boy, I couldn't be more wrong! Although I'd never tell my students, I learn more from them than they will ever learn from me!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Need to Study - Would Rather Blog!

And this is why I decided to take the GRE sooner rather than later. I always work myself up into a frenzy, stressing about how I'm going to do. I've taken a couple of practice tests, and I always test in the mid- to upper- 600s in verbal and 700s in math. I know a score in the 1300s should get me into ISU's PhD programs, especially as I already have an MA and got a 4.0, and Ivy Tech has a deal with ISU.

But. Still.

I guess I'm a worrier at heart. I know I'm a perfectionist. This time tomorrow, I'll be testing away, glad it's finally over. Glad to have this part over and done with.

So I can stress about the next part - getting admitted! ;)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I can't believe I'm going to do this

After my insiteful conversation with my husband on Tuesday, I've spent the past two days re-mapping my five year plan. (You have a five-year plan, don't you? Hmmm, I see a new blog topic...) I have decided to take advantage of Ivy Tech's "deal" with Indiana State University and get a PhD in Education Administration.

I know it might seem obvious to most people that someone who works at a college would automatically want to go and get a PhD. But they would be wrong. There are many colleages where I work very content with their job and their Master's degree with no desire to continue their education. We live, breathe, and eat education every day, and it's exhausting. Trying to get a degree while doing that is very difficult, and often takes a very long time. One or two people have gone on sabbatical to get it done, but I'm not high enough up on the food chain to even broach that topic.

My mom was a bit surprised that I wasn't getting a PhD in communication. It's true, I had been holding out on making the big decision until I knew exactly which PhD I wanted, and for a while, there, communication was in the lead. However, there are two big factors that stand in the way. One, I would have to commute to a university in Chicago that offers it (and pay out-of-state tutition, shudder) or travel down to West Lafayette on class days. It's doable, but the commuting time would be hard on my family. Two, if I got a PhD in communication, I would be setting myself on the road to teach (and/or research) communication until I retired. I love the idea of doing nothing but research, but I know I don't want to teach until I'm in my 60s or 70s. I really do want to get into administration.

Some of my biggest complaints with how our school is run stem from the fact that many of our decision-making members were never instructors. How can they possibly know what we really need if they've never been in a classroom on the other side of the desk? As I move up into administration, I will be the advocate that faculty members so badly need. We don't have a voice in a lot of decisions that affect our day-to-day job. It will make a difference to have a Provost, Vice Chancellor, Chancellor, or even Preseident who once taught. I'm not sure I would ever make it up that high the chain (or if I would even want to), but how ever high up I go, I would have the ear of those above me in hopes of influencing.

So, based on research of current job openings and the types of PhDs these types of jobs prefer, Education Administration it is. So, I'm off to study for the GRE. :\

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So Many Conferences, So Little Time

Since I feel as if I have my feet under me this semester, I have begun looking into associations and conferences within my field, communications. I joined the National Communication Association, and the local chapter, the Central States Communication Association.

Now, I'm going to admit to something that will probably make me seem like a big dork, but I love conventions. I have presented at quite a few, I've relaxed and just attended some, and every time, I've met fun people and learned something. I know a lot of my colleagues go to these because of the unwritten rule to be a part of these types of things in order to be promoted or achieve tenure. I've seen more people asleep at these things then in my most boring of classes. For me, though, it's an opportunity to meet people who know who Kenneth Burke is, or what the Social Exchange Theory means. I love my family and friends, and I wouldn't trade them in for anything, but this is a part of my life that they don't know much about - it's not their passion. I have some friends in the Comm department, sure, but we often teach classes at the same time, so we don't often get to see each other.

One things no one ever discusses is how lonely being a college instructor can be. Professors are very contradictory. We enjoy getting up in front of a group and lecturing, talking to dozens of people a day, constantly interacting. However, we also enjoy solitude. Closing that office door, bolting from the building as quickly as possible to avoid talking to another person. Maybe it's because we have to be "on" all the time, which takes a lot of energy, that we need that quiet, alone time just to recharge. Maybe I just work with a bunch of moody, antisocial people. ;)

Seriously, though, when you work in an office, you see people come and go all the time. You can stop and chat, catch up on the watercooler gossip, discuss last night's American Idol results, listen to an officemate's latest dating disaster, or anything else that reminds you that you are more than just an employee - you're a person, too. As a professor, you are a teacher, first and always, to your students. Even if you offered, most wouldn't want to know you on a personal level. It blurs the lines.

To get back to the point of my post, it is for all of these reasons that I really like and really look forward to conferences. This year, I will be attending the regional conference in Cincinnatti in April and the national convention in San Fransisco in November. I did not submit any papers or proposals for presentations, as this is my first time attending both of these conventions. Once I know what they expect, I will put something in for next year.

This year, though, I'm looking forward to racking up the airline miles and just enjoying my time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Great Debate

My lovely husband took me out for a belated lunch today up in Chicago, giving us a good hour drive time each way to chat. I brought up the topic of moving into a full-time online, work-at-home career, just to test the waters with him. I've tossed it around before, but never seriously.

He didn't even flinch. "Okay, why would you want to leave Ivy Tech, a place you obviously love to work at, for something else, be it another job else where or working from home?"

All of my reasons came flying out. "I'd be more available to the boys for things, like when they're sick or they have a field trip. I'd be around more to keep the house clean and keep you motivated in your weight loss efforts. I would be able to dedicate time to research and possibly even pursuing that PhD I want so much, and I might even be able to do more writing, which makes me happy."

His calm reply, "So, what your saying is working from home allows you more flexibility and time?"


"And how many classes, at an adjunct pay scale, would you have to work to make up what you are making full-time at Ivy Tech?"

What a good question. I hadn't really crunched the numbers, I'd just been dreaming. While I was doing the math in my head (I swear, you could smell the smoke), he piped in, "And don't forget to add an increase to our insurance premium. We'll be getting our own coverage, and I doubt it's as good as what we've got with your school." Hmm, okay, might need to add another class for that. "And," he added, "don't forget to add in extra to go into a retirement fund, as you won't be receiving a pension any more." Wow, I really hadn't thought this through.

Finally, into the silence, I said, "Well, maybe ten or so."

"And how many do you teach now?"

"My required five plus one overload, so six." He didn't say another word. The math alone showed me how difficult it would be to cover costs, and then all that "precious time" I wanted would be used up in extra classes.

I hate it when he's right.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Meanest Professor EVER

I work very hard to be considered a mean professor. Why, do you ask? Wouldn't I want my students to like me? During my first post, I mentioned not liking many of my students. Needless to say, if I don't like them, I'm not all that keen on them liking me. Looking back at that blog, I think I was being too vague. Again, it's not the students themselves that I don't like, but their bad student behaviors and attitudes I don't like. What bad behaviors and attitudes, do you ask? hehe. Let me give you a short list.

Attendance problems
Sleeping in class
Not doing work
On cell phone (calling, texting, playing games) during class
On computer (for anything not involved with note-taking) during class
Not following directions correctly
Not reading all of the directions
Blaming the instructor for bad grades
Blaming problems at home, work, school, insert other person here, for bad grades
Asking stupid questions (and in college, there are stupid questions)
Talking to other students during lectures
Asking for a copy of the instructor's notes so they don't have to take notes
Begging for extra credit

And this is the short list! Add in the specialized complaints for public speaking or online courses, and there's not enough room on the internet to list them all.

I realized last year that, if I was tough up front in my syllabus and have no give during the first few weeks, many of the worst of the offenders weeded themselves out of the class. Then I could concentrate on the students who wanted to be there and learn.

My classes are fun. I use a lot of funny stories, most at my husband's expense, and refer to a lot of pop culture references to help make the dry theory more interesting. I am a work horse. Although there are lots of assignments, all of my tests are online (i.e. open book), and the small weekly assignments shouldn't take more than 30 minutes each. They are just meant to get you thinking about communication on a regular basis. On paper, though, it can look quite over-whleming.

Now, all of my expectations are clearly posted up front. I NEVER accept late work for any reason, I don't have excused or unexcused absences, after four absences, it's an automatic F (although I let the student who went into labor a few hours before class started have a freebie!), and if you engage in an disrespectful behavior, many of which are listed above, you will be asked to leave and will receive an absence for the day. A few small verbal corrections when the class starts to get disruptive, and it seems to be enough.

I've heard, form the students who do like me, that they had heard from students who failed or dropped my class that I was a bitch and should be avoided. These students who liked me, though, said that they saw, so long as they followed basic, and what should be obvious, class rules, I'm actually, dare I say it, easy! Four weeks into the semester, and my full to capicity classes are down 25% each, but those who have stayed are almost all getting As and Bs. It pays to be a bitch, even if it doesn't always feel natural.

Or, to paraphrase a famous frog, it's not easy being mean.