Monday is the first day of school for the public schools here; we have our convocation on Tuesday and then classes start Wednesday. This remains one of my favorite times of the year. Besides a new semester with new classes and groups of students, there is also the energy of an incoming freshman class, starting out their college career, most of them away from home for the first time. I’ll get to know some very well and work closely with them; I especially enjoy the first year seminars and introductory classes.
There are also new faculty members joining the staff, bringing in new ideas and fresh energy. One thing about being at the same institution for 15 years, the “ideas” I brought in from grad school and my other part time teaching stints is old. When I came to UMF we still used overhead projectors, chalk boards and e-mail was something that only some students and faculty used. Web based research was sketchy, Wikipedia untrustworthy (if it even existed yet) and “google” was not yet a common verb. Cell phones never went off in class, and “texting” was something done in lit crit classes.
That means, of course, that it’s easy to get set in my ways, and even as I adapt to a new version of “Blackboard,” electronic submissions, integrating mass media into power point, and ideas like student blogs or virtual classrooms, it’s still always good to hear about what’s worked elsewhere. I also take seriously too the idea of trying to stay at least alongside students in terms of their media use (though I’ve given up on trying to stay current on the music scene). So I’m on facebook, try to keep track with how they’re using resources, and resist any effort to let a “kids these days and their crazy gadgets” idea come into my head. In fact, I would prefer not to have the word “gadget” in my thoughts!
This summer was fantastic — the trip to South Dakota, my on line course, summer experience, camping at various state parks, my seven year old mastering both his new 21 speed 20″ mountain bike and swimming in the lakes. Today we had an awesome summer day — family trip to the beach, and two hours in 55 degree water because the waves were simply incredible. My feet were discolored for awhile due to cold water, but it was grand. Add a DQ blizzard, and well, that’s what’s summer is all about!
So now we slip into fall. School is about to start, and life is good. I’ll also get back to blogging regularly, and paying at least some attention to politics. (And, of course, I’ll keep posting bits from my “Quantum Life” user manual I found). So a grand summer ends, the hectic pace is about to begin, and frankly, it has me invigorated and excited. I love this time of year!