Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's resolutions

Happy new year, folks! As I write this it's already 2009 in 11/24 of the world, with just a few hours left in 2008 for me and mine in North Carolina.

I'm not overly eager to see 2008 go, as it's been a pretty decent year for me (economic downturn notwithstanding). I am looking forward to 2009, though, as I've got a number of irons warming in the fire that should be nice and hot before the new year is up.

What's gone on this past year? What's to come in the year that begins tomorrow?

2008 Teaching Highlights (in no particular order)

1. I'm still high from my work with this past year's crop of REU students. They were smart, quick, and immensely talented. I truly felt humbled by some of the work they put out this summer.

2. I received my third nomination by my students for a university-wide teaching award. I. Am. Honored. My thanks go out to all of the wonderful students who make this job such a pleasure to perform.

3. I'm very proud of having survived my first-ever teaching of Precalculus. It presented new challenges to me, ones that I feel I met rather well. I'm incredibly grateful to my Precalc students for their seemingly limitless patience and cooperation; they taught me innumerable tricks and techniques. I've learned much from them.

4. My first full calendar year of service on the Writing Intensive Committee has taught me boatloads about the many manifestations of academic writing. In attending my first two writing-related conferences, I've learned what a welcoming and supportive bunch the composition/rhetoric community is. I look forward to developing further ties with many of that community's members.

5. I've been intrigued and excited by the possibilities I've begun to study for interplay between math and poetry. What I've seen so far, I'm sure, is little more than the tip of the iceberg. What will the coming year bring?

2009 Coming Attractions (in no particular order)

1. Spring 2009 will be my first ever semester with four preps. However, I've taught every one of these classes before, so none of them are new preps, and I've already got the structure of two of them pretty much completely worked out. Is it going to kick my ass? We'll see.

2. In the coming semester my Super Saturday class will be on-line for the first time since I've been leading it. Now that I've got a solid curriculum and a number of good resources to back it up, I'm more confident than ever as I go into my sixth semester with the program. If things go well, I'm thinking of using the course materials as the basis for a children's book on hands-on advanced mathematics.

3. I'm excited to find out how the LaTeX module is going to work out in our Foundations course. It'll be difficult to assess the overall impact of this move right away, but I hope that by introducing the students to the software early in their careers it'll make them stronger expositors of mathematics down the road.

4. I'll be submitting several non-mathematics articles this coming year, comprising a few on the scholarship of teaching and learning in various settings. I'm eager to see how these are received.

5. The third summer of the REU is fast approaching, and with six of our past two years' alumni presenting at JMM, I'm wondering how we're going to top our past successes. I hope we can come through, though, as by June 5th I'm going to have to submit my application for continued funding from the NSF.

All that and more. But I'll leave it for tomorrow. For now, it's off to the celebration!

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