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2007-02-19 - 5:37 p.m.

...meetings, anyone?....

I just got into my office today and noticed that there are coat hooks on the wall. Isn't progress amazing? I have a place to hang my coat now.

I've actually just gotten back to my office because I've been in meetings since 10:30 this morning. On the one hand, it's been extremely tiring. On the other hand, I've collected some great information.

I started the morning with a coffee with Emma, who has been in this department for five years. It was incredibly useful, because it helped evaporate the sense that I am 'the neglected faculty member.' My problems are unique to my situation (my office location, etc.), but hearing about her experience somehow reassured me that the way in which my problems are being handled is NOT unique. She described an extremely similar isolation during her first semester. It really really helped me to hear that (a) I'm not the only one, and (b) that it is possible to go on to achieve and be very successful, in spite of the glitches I am experiencing.

I moved on from having a coffee with Emma to having lunch with Susan. Susan is in social science discipline, and is part time. And her teaching style gets some very good reviews. It was another useful and supportive meeting where I was able to share some of my frustrations with teaching, and then get her input and suggestions. And for some reason it just makes me feel better to learn that the grand 'wet sponge' dynamic of these students is not solely my problem. Susan had some great insights.

Because our lunch discussion was so intriguing, we were both late to the faculty meeting - which followed the usual path of a faculty meeting. (see past references to tin foil and teeth).

I then had the extremely useful opportunity to observe how one of my colleagues teaches a course. He was excellent - able to engage the students, and able to incorporate both policy, toxicity, and chemistry. (Actually his technique was very tricky - he talked about chemicals without introducing any chemistry. I didn't think it was possible.)

So afterwards I was able to continue my investigation into 'how they do it." He was also very kind and supportive. And was the third person to tell me that no one helped him, either. He suggested that I talk to yet another faculty member about how he adjusted. This will be another coffee, clearly.

I guess that my point is that I had the sense today that I achieved several goals. Yes, I complained in frustration. But mostly I devoted the time to asking them how they do things. How have they adjusted. How have they dealt with limitations. I am not certain if these meetings will solve my problem in the long run - I will still be out of sight and mostly out of mind, and I've gathered that the mode of operation in this department hasn't changed for a loonnnngggg time. But I feel like I've started to put myself on their radar screens. They know that I'm interested in engaging with them, and they know that I'm trying to deal with some difficulties. And I just hope that the response remains positive...

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