Obi wan Kenobi

Readers may have noted my absence for a week- I was out of town for a workshop last weekend, and when I returned there was a big pile of reports to grade, plus a number of pressing deadlines. I had to hunker down and plow through them- not yet done, but feeling better now.

Most people, and particularly academics, are familiar with this ebb and flow of work load. How many times we shake our heads and mutter, “Why am I doing this to myself?” Answers are of course manyfold, and luckily most of us do enjoy what we do. Then of course, there are some bonuses.

Yesterday was one of those days that my brain did not seem to work right. I overslept, causing some stress in the morning heading to a meeting, and as the day advanced, I was aware that my mental processes were sluggish.

On the other hand…

  • I was in a meeting discussing the possibility to host a Small World Initiative training at our campus. It was a pure logistics meeting (cost of lodging, catering, possible dates, transportation). I was stuck in the model of previous training workshops. The facilities director asked: “Can we make it a regional workshop to cater to instructors who live close-by and can drive?” Funnily enough, this was an option that had come up before, but somehow got lost in later email threads. As an option, it would be for sure simpler to arrange.
  • Another colleague and I are going through some serious number crunching to look at the effect of an intervention in a non-majors biology class. As it was my original idea, I had a set of parameters I wanted to look at. She suggested to look also at the number of W students (withdrawals) as a proxy of retention.
  • Thanks to a small internal grant, I am now in practice the administrator of resources, a fact that makes me nervous. Have been looking at ways to make it as transparent and clear as possible to prevent any doubts of what is the $ used for. As the project involves the use of a consultant, I have been thinking of some kind of document to reflect expectations, deliverables, and deadlines. My faculty mentor, whom I jokingly call Obi wan Kenobi, pointed out to me that there is indeed an official form for contracts at the university and explained the instructions to its use.

The common denominator of these three examples was my reaction: “Genius!” I exclaimed all three times, as the simple solutions just moved the process along. And yes, I may have arrived to the same solution by myself…but on a day like yesterday, it was wonderful to feel the power of teamwork.

Happy weekend to you all!