Two weeks to go

I made a brilliant planning decision way back at the beginning of the semester. Bless you, Fall Term PZ!

My big course this term is EcoDevo — big ol’ textbook, lots of papers from the scientific literature, all new lectures, etc. One part of the course is that the students have to do presentations on aspects of eco devo that interest them, and I scheduled that for the last two weeks of the class, which is coming up. That means I have no new lecture prep coming up! My weekends have been frantic this year: Saturday is dedicated to reading and studying, and Sunday is spent assembling those one hour lectures and putting together lists of concept questions. But not this weekend!

My second biggest class is called BioComm, and it’s a course in which I shepherd students through the exercise of writing a formal research paper, and this term by a terrible miscalculation I have 8 students. It’s too many. Never again. The problem is that I have to personally read these long papers in multiple steps of their development, and it’s a hell of a lot of grading and criticizing and revising. And here it is, the end of the semester, and there’s a pile of 20+ page papers sitting in my in-box.

So this is where I planned brilliantly: the weekends where I don’t have to work to make content for my eco devo course, are these final weekends where I instead have to read and mark up a monstrous mountain of student writing assignments! Perfect dovetailing! Two courses meshing smoothly together to bring me to the brink of insanity, but not quite over the edge into a gibbering breakdown!

My biocomm students get another chance to address my criticisms next week, so next weekend will be similarly consumed with a returning pile of papers, but then, in two weeks…FREEDOM! Spider time! Also I get to spend the summer preparing for yet another new class in the fall, so even my relatively free months have wicked shackles holding me back.


  1. leovigild says

    I am jealous you have a mere 8. I have 20 in my class whose drafts I am working on, and my colleagues in English typically have 30-35, often leading multiple sections of that size.

  2. says

    I can’t imagine coping with 20. I spent this morning going over just one, which was pretty good. How do you find time to put much effort into the individuals with that many?

    My new class next year is a sophomore-level introduction to “History of Evolutionary Thought.” It’s also a hybrid, writing-enriched course in which half the class time is dedicated to instruction in writing essays, so I’ll have a lot of grading work that term, too.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    History of evolutionary thought – wasn’t there a gardener before both Darwin and Wallace who came upon similar ideas?
    Since you have aced planning, may I suggest a post-retirement project to work on? If Minnesota has a lot of forests, set up a ‘Mirkwood adventure park’ in one of them, with lots of animatronic spiders.
    You can even have a ‘guardian of the lake’ in a dam before the entrance, adding an animatronic cephalopod.
    (Add a booth with an animatronic Stephen Jay Gould explaining why the Flood narrative is nonsense)

  4. says

    I must stop giggling and apologize. When I read PZ saying: FREEDOM! Spider time! I couldn’t help but visualize him at the front of a classroom in a spiderman costume!

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