Conference Politics

I forgot how uncomfortable the presentation of Republicans and half the nation as anti-intellectuals who were evil becomes when you are at a conference.

The speakers assume that everyone is a strongly left liberal. They use “we” and “our” in response to hate of Gingrich and Palin. All about how stupid the people are who believe these things, also including the mainstream media (what are they reading?), it is very frustrating.

It really frustrates me when I am trying to listen to something that has nothing to do with politics.

Sour Grapes

One of the schools I used to adjunct for just put up two full-time positions, with four descriptions. Two of them match me perfectly. But after their bizarre changes in management, I am not sure I would want to return there. Also, though I qualify, I think this is one of those times they would probably not want someone they know.

And, really, I have a job that, while it doesn’t pay great, doesn’t leave me wondering when the ax will fall from managment, even with a one-year “we can fire you any time we have an exigency at all” contract. Unlike the other school which decides willy nilly to change their faculty and lets most of them go. They went from having eight faculty to having two and hiring the provost’s best friend. They let the other six go.

Now they are finding they can’t staff a full English department with those numbers of faculty, even when their 35% tuition hikes have run off a significant portion (1/3) of their students.

They pay well for adjuncts, though. Too bad they don’t have something they need me to teach. Tuesday-Thursday afternoon would give me something to do.

Education for the Poor

Joanne Jacobs says:

We know how to teach black kids – and other disadvantaged students — but we don’t do it, writes John McWhorter in The Root.

Starting in 1968, a huge federal study called Project Follow Through compared different methods of teaching at-risk K-3 children: Direct Instruction (DI), a scripted phonics program using repetition and student participation, worked much better than anything else for all students, but especially low-income black students. DI has continued to work where ever it’s been used, McWhorter writes.

But DI defies the conventional wisdom of education schools, which “keep alive the canard that teaching poor kids to read is an elusive, complex affair requiring a peculiarly intense form of superhuman dedication and an ineffable brand of personal connection with young people,” McWhorter writes. “In a better America, schools that do not use DI to teach kids from poor households should be seen as vaguely criminal. People should point them out as they drive by them, like crack houses.”

Cheating Students

I am never particularly happy about cheating students, but this paragraph from a “shadow scholar, a ghostwriter” of college (undergrad and graduate) work really frustrates me:

I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America’s moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked.

from a Chronicle of Higher Ed article on paying for original papers

Chemistry Books to Read with M

Dr. Joe Schwarcz has written a number of books that are a lot of fun-
The Genie in the Bottle
That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles
Science, Sense, and Nonsense,
and many others.

I’ve used all three in my classes with good success. I’ve also used Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks but some students don’t like the way the footnotes are done in the book and state that it makes it difficult to read (I love the book!).

from the Chronicle of Higher Ed forum

How My Colleagues Think of Christians

In the eyes of some, August fits stereotypical images such as the comic-strip character Zippy the Pinhead. Yet likening my son, and other people who have microcephalic heads, to Zippy is about as relevant as likening African-Americans to blackface caricatures. In the eyes of others, August resembles Terri Schiavo, who, for the secular-educated, triggers the fearful response of “better off dead than disabled.” Many such well-meaning people would like to put an end to August’s suffering, but they do not stop to consider whether he actually is suffering. At times he is uncomfortable, yes, but the only real pain here seems to be the pain of those who cannot bear the thought that people like August exist. For many of those folks, someone with August’s caliber of cognitive and physical disability raises the question of where humanity leaves off and animality begins. But that animal-human divide is spurious, a faulty either-or.

And then there are the Christians, who see in August a child of God. Given the educated alternative I just sketched out, that response seems a relief. Here in the South, they come up and say “God bless!,” to which, depending on the occasion and the person, I sometimes respond, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Do you see what he said? Christians are the opposite of educated.

It’s clear, but generally unstated.

from A Life Beyond Reason

Shaming Teachers Into Good Behavior

Right on the Left Coast talks of the LA Times “identifying good and bad teachers by name.”


RotLC says that if shaming the teachers gets them to make changes, it’s all to the good.

Yes. It is.

But maybe the reason they are looking at making changes is because this is the first time anyone has told them that their students are not doing as well in their classes as other students are doing in other classes.

I didn’t see that the teachers who were called out in a negative way were trying to shift blame. That’s good. I also saw that they were looking for ways to be better. That’s good.

Maybe they just didn’t know there was a problem.

Been there myself.

Not as Good as I Thought

I received my averages for classes for the last three years, as compared to the full-time faculty and the other adjuncts. It is not quite accurate because I have been teaching a new version of the course that whole time and yet the advisors kept letting students who did not belong in.

Despite that caveat, it is still depressing.

I have a lower success rate by 22% than the ft faculty. I have a +.8 GPA in my classes though. How does that work?

Can We Really Tell What Young People Will Be?

I am in Switzerland and at dinner we have discussed the Swiss system, which chooses in the sixth grade whether you will go to college or not. One of the teachers of my friends’ children said that he can tell in kindergarten which class they will be in. BigArmWoman says that Americans can tell in the third grade.

If you want to be enlightened and depressed, go read it.

(For those of you who didn’t go read it, 3rd grade exams are used to predict the need for prison beds.)

Reading Helps Reading: Give Students Books

This is incredibly important for low socioeconomic students.

When low-income students are given books to read during the summer, they read more, a Florida study found. This summer a large-scale study in seven states will look at whether book giveaways can stem the usual “summer slide” in reading skills. USA Today’s Greg Toppo asks: “Can a $50 stack of paperback books do as much for a child’s academic fortunes as a $3,000 stint in summer school?”

Low-income students have few books at home. Walking to a public library may be dangerous. The result is a “summer slide” in academic skills that may account for 80 percent of the achievement gap by sixth grade, says Richard Allington, a reading researcher at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Researchers note that low-income students lose about three months of ground each summer to middle-class peers.

“You do that across nine or 10 summers, and the next thing you know, you’ve got almost three years’ reading growth lost,” Allington says.

For three summers, students in 17 high-poverty elementary schools in Florida got 12 books on the last day of school. After three years, book recipients had “significantly higher” reading scores, showed less of a summer slide and read more on their own than classmates who didn’t get free books, Allington and colleagues reported.

Found via Joanne Jacobs

The USA Today story.

Remember the Failing School with the Obstreperous Faculty?

Here are two views on the same situation by respected academic writers. (Well, I respect them. They’re on my personal blogroll.)

Threatened with the mass lay-off — and knowing 800 applications have come in for the school’s 93 jobs – the union agreed to “Gallo’s initial requests, including two weeks (rather than one) of summer professional development at her preferred rate,” Hess writes.

from Joanne Jacobs

What’s lacking here is any indication or evidence that the proposed changes will elicit the desired results. Let’s look at the proposals.

from Right on the Left Coast

What you tell your children matters.

Dweck and her collaborators have demonstrated that praising children for their intelligence can backfire. When young people’s sense of self-worth is bound up in the idea that they are smart—a quality they come to understand as a genetic blessing from the sky—at least three bad things can happen. Some students become lazy, figuring that their smarts will bail them out in a pinch. Others conclude that the people who praise their intelligence are simply wrong, and decide that it isn’t worth investing effort in homework. Still others might care intensely about school but withdraw from difficult tasks or tie themselves in knots of perfectionism. (To understand this third group, think of the Puritans: They did not believe they had any control over whether they were among God’s elect, but they nonetheless searched endlessly for ways to display that they had been chosen, and they were terrified of any evidence that they were not.)

It is much wiser, Dweck says, to praise children for work and persistence. People nearly always perform better if they focus on things they can control, such as their effort, rather than things they cannot.

from The Chronicle

References Called

Today I found out that two (at least) of my references have been called for a job at SN. I am thrilled. I really like the school and I enjoyed teaching there.

I don’t know if they will really call and do a phone interview, though they did tell CM that they were planning to. In fact, after hearing that, I thought I might have a call on my answering machine when I got home. But I didn’t.

One great thing about it is that I didn’t find out until I had already turned down the so-called VAP. So I didn’t turn it down for a maybe. I turned it down because it wasn’t right.

I hope the SN job turns out to be right… Which is a little odd. I had almost decided I didn’t want to teach at a two-year college. Maybe I need to rethink that.

Turning Jobs Down

I resigned from English, because I don’t think I can do six classes a semester anymore.

Originally they offered me a VAP with adjunct pay and benefits. They told me I would only have one prep, so I could teach for business, too. That would have given me more money.

Now, though, I have at least two preps and probably three for English. That means I would not be able to teach for business.

So, finally, after hemming and hawing for three days and wondering how and what to say, I turned them down. I feel relieved, so I know it was the right thing to do.

Job Search Status

I’m having nightmares about the interview process. At least I think that is the problem.

I dreamed I was at a presentation and there was going to be a great publisher publication of a book on X (moccasins?) and they were inviting anyone in the society to write a chapter. I thought it would be a great way to get a publication from a reputable publisher, so I went up to look at the moccasins and a guy came up behind me and was pressing against me. I told him he needed to back away and then I realized he was feeling me up and wouldn’t let go. I was screaming and trying to poke his eyeballs out and, even though I got my fingers into his eyes, nothing was happening and no one would come help me. That was horrible. I woke up screaming and R held me for quite a while till I quit crying.

I didn’t make it to the third interview at CF. I really wanted that job. Of course, I remember a mistake I made in the interview and I think that’s why I didn’t get it. It might not have been that at all.

I had a second interview at T. I had to grade an essay and write an essay. That was different. As I was walking out of the interview, they told me they don’t teach modes anymore–they only do research. I didn’t answer that well, though I could have. I do the c/c as research and the def/ill has research in it.

I don’t think CF developmental is going to go to the second interview, so… I’m done until SJ starts interviewing, if they interview me.

I am freaking out. Is there something wrong with me? Am I really that bad? What is going on?

And now, since I’m not going to have a full-time job somewhere else, I have got to work on how to get my 6 load to a reasonable level. I think that it means I will have to do the social sciences classes in the fall (since I said I would), but I will tell them I can’t do them in the spring. Or maybe I need to tell them now I can’t do them in the fall, that it is just too much.

Do you think they would hire me full-time if they didn’t have me working for them? Yeah, I don’t think so either. So I guess, I should do what is best for me and get rid of that problem. I love teaching those classes, but I just cannot do this much work again continually when I don’t have to.

I also need to rethink my priorities, again, and make sure I know what I want to do and spend this next year trying to improve my CV for those positions.

HD would be great. AC would be great. HB writing would be great. So I need to work on doing things that get me into that mode, being productive for those areas. And I need to decide whether I want to continue working in a two-year school or not.

My Poem

I have been working for three or so hours each over the last two days to create audio and a video of a poem I wrote for National Poetry Month. TYCA is having a contest, which was supposed to be finished. But they did not get sufficient entries, so they solicited more. I hope that I get mine in before they have enough.

It looks amazing, even if it’s me who says it. I used iMovie to put the pictures together. It was different, trying to learn it. It didn’t take much time, but I don’t think it is really intuitive.

I am THRILLED with how my poem ended up looking and sounding. I bought pictures from to make the video. I think that one or two more pictures would have made it better, but it is, in fact, amazing as it is.

Thanks to my wonderful techie husband who was so patient with me while I was learning to use it.