Tuesday, January 8, 2013

First Semester Reflections Part 1

I am on the train from Alexandria to Cairo (although obviously when you read this I will not be), which is in a sense where this blog began, a product of fieldwork stress and too many random theoretical thoughts to keep track of. At that point I mainly blogged about the former, but I often think that it would be helpful to add in the latter. In any case, since I have now completed my dissertation, and landed a tenure track job, and the second semester has not yet started, it is time for some first semester reflections. This will be a multi part series, as there have been many, many changes going on in my life, but I am not yet sure how many parts this will be. In any case, this part will focus on my accomplishments in the areas I'm evaluated on, and my thoughts thus far.

--transferred my dissertation IRB to Andalus U (far more complicated than it seems)
--submitted an article (based on a dissertation chapter, but with considerable theoretical and data re analysis)
--provided comments on an article I'm third author on, that will be submitted soon
--deidentified part of my data
--read a lot
--organized all of my sources in bookends, including making a reading list of urgent and not so urgent ones
--presented at two conferences (well, technically one starts tomorrow, so I haven't attended it yet, but my presentation is ready)
--gotten accepted to two more conferences

Overall, I think this looks pretty good in terms of accomplishments, and I met my tenure plan goal of submitting this article. I have to admit I was a little skeptical of the whole working on writing in short chunks of time every day, but it seems to have worked. According to my charts, with few exceptions, starting in October I wrote for 25 minutes on MWF and 50 on TR. This gave me a nearly completed draft by finals week, when I upped the writing to 100 minutes for four days. Then all I had to do over Winter Break was revise, which I mostly did the past four days sitting in my favorite coffee shop watching the Mediterranean and drinking hot chocolate. Tough life, eh? Then, after all the Internet in Alexandria seemed to be down for days due to weather, I submitted. So by my estimation, this works, although we shall see what the reviewers think about this project.

--taught three classes (technically an overload, so I am only teaching one class this Spring)
--although two of these were sections of Arabic 101, which I have taught before, using the new (and much better) edition of the textbook, and actually getting to teach the way I want meant substantial revisions to the class
--supervised the TA who taught the other Arabic classes
--attended a teaching conference

In general, I was pretty satisfied with my teaching. What a difference it makes to be able to do what you want, and thus do crazy things like teach proficiency-oriented classes that address the diglossic reality of the Arabic language! I will never, ever, go back to fus7a only. It is just wrong, and no one will ever be able to force me to do it again, Mwahaha! There are of course things I will revise in the future, and there are some serious structural issues to the program that I will discuss in a separate post, but so far, so good. I got two class observations for my tenure box, which were excellent, although I do not have my student evaluations yet.

Luckily, I don't have to do much of this. I served on one committee and one advisory board. The latter only met once, so I don't have much to say about it. The former was a good fit for me, for several reasons. It is in charge of giving out grants for a particular thing that is the subject of my research, so I am quite well placed to evaluate the applications (or grumble and moan about their quality). Furthermore, I will be applying for one of these in the future, so it is useful to know how the committee operates. I wonder if in the future, as a tenured professor, it would be so enlightening serve on the IRB committee. I must remember this. In any case, this did not take up very much time (14 hours) so I don't have much to say about it.

All in all, I think it was a productive semester, and here's hoping for more inthe future!

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