So this nightmare of a semester is finally over.
Teaching online is…not enjoyable. I miss actually getting to see and interact with my students. I feel so disconnected from them and I feel like I’ve been absolute crap at my job this semester, even though I’m really trying to do the best I can given the garbage circumstances.
It’s so demotivating, and now is not the time to become demotivated. It’s also SUPER FREAKING FRUSTRATING that the first “real” (non-spring/summer) semester of my tenure-track position has been marred by online nonsense, and it’s even more SUPER FREAKING FRUSTRATING that my first actual course coordinating assignment (next semester’s STAT 213) will be during an online semester rather than a “normal” one. I feel like no matter what I do, I won’t get to show my true ability to coordinate effectively, especially since everyone is new to online teaching and there are so many things that can go wrong.
But the main thing? I miss my students. I miss actually teaching them in person and feeling like I’m making a difference in their learning. I’m definitely not getting that vibe this semester and it’s destroying my soul.
So very demotivating.
And just for clarification, I’m not blaming the U of C for any of this. They (at least the Math/Stats Department) did the smart thing by making all the courses online this semester and next, especially with how Alberta’s crashing and burning COVID-wise right now. It just…sucks.
AAAAAAAAAAA SUMMER CLASSES START TODAY AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
This will be my first full semester online. It will also be the first time I’ve taught two classes in a short semester since I taught STAT 213 and STAT 217 a few springs ago.
Hopefully it will all go okay. My two classes are back-to-back, though, which means I’ll be talking for four hours straight on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays…not sure how my voice is going to handle that. I guess we’ll see.
SHORT BLOG SORRY BYE
What up, NERDS?!?!?!?
So today, let’s do something that – for whatever reason – I’ve never done before: let’s make a semester class schedule for U of C rather than UI!
And just for funsies, I’m going to do one for last semester (Winter 2020) rather than the upcoming fall semester, since COVID botched up everything and the vast majority of classes will be online in the fall. I want to make a fake schedule where I have to actually plan out the course meeting times as well.
Because that’s how I roll with these things.
CPSC 491: Techniques for Numerical Computation (9:00 – 9:50)
STAT 533: Survival Methods (10:00 – 10:50)
HIST 361: The United States Since 1877 (14:00 – 14:50)
CPSC 491: Techniques for Numerical Computation Tutorial (13:00 – 13:50)
GEOG 310: Landforms and Soils Lab (13:00 – 13:50)
ENGL 594: Studies in Creative Writing: Prose Fiction (18:00 – 20:45)
STAT 533: Survival Methods Tutorial (16:00 – 16:50)
GEOG 310: Landforms and Soils (9:30 – 10:45)
ART 341: Drawing the Figure (11:15 – 12:30)
ART 341: Drawing the Figure Lab (12:30 – 13:45)
DRAM 413: Directing I (15:30 – 17:20)
We can technically contact our supervisors if we “can’t or don’t” want to work from home, but I don’t want to be that guy who goes against the “let’s get this under control” rules just for the sake of convenience.
So I guess tomorrow I’ll haul all my nonsense home and hope that I’ll be able to concentrate well enough here to actually work.
(I might also try running outside tomorrow, since we’re finally getting a day where the weather is no longer in Super Winter mode.)
I submit to you some very creepy photos of the University of Calgary without students.
It’s…it’s weird in here.
So MATH 249, SCIE 301, and STAT 323 have now been frantically converted to online format!
Classes have been cancelled today, too, because it sounds like they realized that asking instructors to completely readjust their courses with less than 48 hours’ notice was a little rough.
Which is good for me, since it’ll put my video lecture recordings two days ahead of when they need to be posted rather than just one. Buffers are good.
BLAH SORRY too busy to blog.
(Also, I will never tire of referring to the internet as a series of tubes. Never.)
Yup, I was right. We got the email today that we’re supposed to use this weekend to convert our classes to some sort of format that can be delivered online; students will not be coming back to campus for the foreseeable future.
Converting to an online format won’t be too hard for my courses, but I imagine there are a lot of profs who are in a bit of a panic right now. Two days is not a lot of time to make this transition…
So classes were cancelled today.
Classes are never cancelled here.
It can be -40 degrees with ice covering every inch of every road and the U of C will still be like “lol campus beckons, children.”
From what I’ve heard, the last time classes were cancelled was during the 2013 floods.
I suspect they’re going to have us move to some sort of online format. When? Who knows. It wouldn’t surprise me if we have to do it over the weekend, even though as I’m writing this it’s 5 PM and we haven’t gotten any information yet other than that classes are closed today and are supposed to resume “in some format” on Monday.
So fun times.
Edit: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BASEBALL IS BEING POSTPONED
HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO L I V E
OH MY GOD YOU GUYS.
OH MY GOD.
Let me tell you about my day today.
So as I’m sure you’re all aware (if you read my blog, at least), I am currently in a limited-term contract at the U of C, which I just got last August after being a sessional (semester-by-semester) instructor since 2016. This limited-term contract is good through this coming August (2020).
I’m sure you’re also all aware that my dream is to have this job as my career for the rest of my life, so I’ve been really trying to let the higher-ups know that I would basically do anything to keep teaching here.
Anyway, Alberta just made some huge cuts to education, which will affect the U of C in some sort of negative way. We’re not sure how bad it will be yet as the University has not yet released its new budget, but we know it will be a cut from what we’ve got going on so far.
So you can imagine that when our department head emailed me and said he wanted to talk to me today, I was immediately like “oh fuck, here we go, he’s going to tell me they can’t renew/extend my limited-term contract after August and he’s just giving me a heads up.”
That’s not what happened.
Want to know what happened instead?
He said that they’re going to be converting my limited-term position into a tenure-track position.
Do you know what that means? That means that I’ll be able to go up for a tenure review and possibly become a tenured professor. Tenure is basically the supreme job security level.
Tenure is permanence.
And they feel like I’ve earned the right to apply for it.
W H A T .
I don’t think I’ve completely wrapped my head around this yet. This is a huge step towards what I’ve been wanting ever since I started teaching back in 2012. This is the university basically saying “we like you and need you and have confidence in your abilities.”
This is a huge, huge deal to me.
I’m so freaking excited.
I’ve been super vague on this blog regarding this topic ‘cause I didn’t know what the outcome would be and didn’t want to jinx it, but here we go.
Back in June, there was a job posting for an instructor position in the math/stats department here at U of C. I was encouraged to apply for it, which I readily did. Last week I had my interview (it was just myself and some other dude who got to that point).
And today? I got the news that the job is mine!
Starting September 1st, I will be a limited-term instructor with a guaranteed one year contract. That might not sound like much, but that’s a big step in the right direction. I currently am a sessional instructor, which means that I’ve just been hired on a semester-by-semester basis. Zero job security, lots of panic near the ends of semesters, and way too much insecurity for a control freak like myself.
But now? I’m guaranteed work through next August. I have a set amount of classes to teach per semester (three in the fall, three in the winter, one in either the spring or summer). I get a semester off (either spring or summer, whichever one I’m not teaching). I’m getting paid a lot more. I get benefits and a pension.
But most importantly, I am one step closer in making this job a permanent, long term thing. I am one step closer to being able to say that I get to work my dream job for the rest of my working life. And I can finally (at least until next July or so, haha) stop spending so much of my energy on freaking out about job security and re-direct it towards teaching.
Because that’s what I love. That’s what I want.
So this week has sucked royal nuts for various reasons. But today I got an email from Jim saying that STAT 213 in the spring was suddenly available and that it could be mine if I wanted it.
And I had to very calmly reply “yes plz give” without actually being like “YES PLZ GIVE!”
So yeah. I get two classes this spring: STAT 213 and STAT 217. I’ll hopefully be getting STAT 217 in the summer, too.
(And, you know, more classes in later semesters as well.)
So I was in the mail room at school printing some stuff, and I saw this guy:
How…how have I not noticed him before? He’s awesome. He looks cool and calm and all…until you zoom in.
Reduce, reuse, recycle…
So there are two main reasons why I should not be allowed to go anywhere on campus other than the math building.
- I’ll get lost.*
- I’ll want to get a degree in whatever random program I happen to witness.
Example: I wanted to hold a review session for my second midterm, so I had to get a room booked that was big enough to hold at most 120 students. Because of the fact that the time of day of this review was still when a lot of classes were going on, my regular room wouldn’t work and I had to get a room over in the engineering complex.
As I was walking to the room, I saw a whole bunch of engineering students working on various projects/gadgets/equations/etc. which all looked super intriguing and made me do the thing I do where I just pick up a major because why the hell not.
So yeah. Math building only.
*I’m not kidding. When I first moved up here and started going to school, it took me an hour to find the campus rec center because I knew you could get there without going outside but I still couldn’t find it and I was freaking out because I had no idea where anything was or how to get back to my building. I think there’s something wrong with me.
So I’m trying to make this Calgary vs. Ottawa decision as objectively as possible, but I’m still having a lot of trouble with it. You might be thinking, “hey, you idiot, it’s not that hard of a decision.”
Well, it is for me, okay?
So let me look at the pros and cons for both choices and see if that helps me decide.
- University of Calgary is a research university and it’s ranked fairly high in Canada.
- I’m already in love with the city, even after just watching some walking tours on YouTube.
- I’d be about the same distance away from Moscow as I was in Vancouver, which was a pretty ideal distance.
- The move up there won’t be too expensive and will only take a day (or two).
- Mayor Nenshi!
- Monthly rent is approximately the same as in Vancouver (i.e., expensive).
- Since my original supervisor is leaving, I’m basically going to get stuck with someone who didn’t originally want me. That’s really stressful to me, especially given my last supervisor/student relationship and how horrible that whole thing was.
- I’m scared of the city flooding as badly as it did last summer.
- My supervisor who’s moving there seems like a really nice and genuine person and really wants me to work with him.
- I’d get more money there, especially if I decided to be a TA.
- Lower cost of living than Calgary.
- It’s the capital of Canada! How cool?
- Carleton University (where my supervisor’s headed) has a math department that does a lot of things jointly with the University of Ottawa, which means a more diverse offering of classes.
- I’d have to move all the freaking way across the continent again. Expensive and time-consuming and stressful.
- I’m not “feeling” the city of Ottawa the same way as Calgary.
- Carleton isn’t a research university. It’s actually the level below a true university, which is a bit concerning to me (it’s on the same level as Simon-Fraser University, which is a “comprehensive university” and not a research university).
- I already have my study permit for Calgary; I’d have to get that changed if I go to a different school. PLUS I’d have to get all sorts of new paperwork showing that Carleton “accepted” me.
- If I end up going for a PhD, one of the requirements that must be fulfilled is that I’d have to be fluent in another language enough so that I could read and comprehend a mathematical paper in said other language. While that’s a good skill to have, obviously, I am about as unilingual as a person can get and I don’t know if I even have the capacity to learn another language. Y’know, ‘cause I’m an idiot.
- I’m scared of Quebec.
THAT DIDN’T HELP AT ALL.
So guess where my crazy life adventures are taking me next?
I got accepted by the University of Calgary will be starting my Masters in statistics in September.
I am SUPER FREAKING EXCITED!
Here are some facts about Calgary/U of C:
- Population: 1,096,833 (third highest in Canada after Toronto and Montreal)
- Hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1988 (Jamaican bobsled team!)
- It’s one of the sunniest cities in Canada, with about 332 days of sun every year.
- U of C has about 25,000 undergraduates and 6,000 postgraduates
- U of C is ranked as one of the best universities in Canada (6th – 8th, depending on the ranking)
- The university library is the sixth largest library in the country.
- YOU CAN TAKE PROFESSIONAL SPEED SKATING LESSONS AT THE OLYMPIC OVAL ON CAMPUS I AM SO DOING THAT
I reiterate: I am SUPER FREAKING EXCITED!