Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Unreal Times

There is an element of unreality that invades your world when you’ve had several snow days in a row.

Of course they’re not snow days this time.  They’re wind chill days.  For the second time this month the air temperatures have gotten down around -20F here in Our Little Town, which is unusually cold but not unheard of in this part of the world.  But the winds have been high as well, and we had several inches if light fluffy snow over the weekend – snow just begging to be blown into a whiteout haze – and when you add those things together it’s just better for everyone to stay home, drink warm beverages, and hunker down. 

The semester was supposed to have started this week down at Home Campus.  It started last week for my online course. 

For the online class I’m just administering someone else’s design – that’s how those classes work.  There’s a Lead Professor, who designs the class – most of the work in an online class happens before the students ever show up – and then the online folks open up a bunch of sections to handle the enrollment.  The Lead Professor gets one, and they farm out the rest to other professors.  We go in, customize things a bit to our liking, and then handle the day-to-day work for the class.  I’ve taught this class in two different versions, and I have to say I really like the one that’s up now.  It’s well designed and thought out, and if it requires a fair amount of grading and feedback for my students from me, well, that’s what good classes do.

For my own class, I’m rewriting the last third of it this semester.  Any class whose title ends with “…to the present” needs to be tinkered with every year, and after a few years of tinkering it gets to be unwieldy and you have to rewrite the thing from the ground up, especially if – as is the case with my US2 class – my thinking about how the last fifty years or so of American politics works has changed since the last rewrite.  Squeezing the old material into the new framework has gotten harder and harder to do, so it’s time to pull it apart and build it anew.

So I’ve got a lot to do.

But everything’s on hold.

The online class is in its opening bit, before I have any real grading to do.  I just have to monitor it for now.  And the weather has been so bad across the state that my own class has yet to meet.  Meanwhile the local schools are rightly closed, which means my children are home (or at least are not in school – Lauren has been shuttling from friend’s house to friend’s house the last few days for sleepovers), and not many people really want to hold meetings or if they do they’re okay with phone meetings, so Kim has mostly been home as well.

It feels like semester break still.

Except it isn’t.

There’s all sorts of work to be done.  The clock is ticking on the semester. 

And here I sit.

It’s been a strange winter.


Beatrice Desper said...

You can send some of that cold over here. It's been 50F for the past two weeks. Grey and rainy. Ugh!

David said...

Beware of what you wish for! It was 70 degrees F cooler here Tuesday morning, which is hard on things.

Still better than the August heat, though.