Let it Begin (again)

Posted By Pamela on Aug 25, 2008 | 5 comments

Monday is the first day of a new semester. I’ll be teaching just one class this semester (the rest of my time is going to IYA), second semester calculus based physics for Scientists and Engineers. This will be my first time teaching this course, although I’ve taught the algebra-based version several times. At this stage I have my syllabus written and photocopied, I have MasteringPhysics setup and the first homework posted, and all I really have left to do is configure BlackBoard, but since I forgot to request a login until today, that one is going to have to wait. I’m thinking I might also give these students a copy of the final I wrote for the first semester version of this class so they’ll know what I expect them to know. I’m in the odd situation of teaching the second semester of a class I didn’t teach the first semester of, and I know my teaching style is radically different from those who taught the first semester (There are many different ways to teach well, and each personality type has to find what works best for them and their students.)

As I prep for classes, I also find that I need to get my schedule under control. A wonderful graduate student I work with wrote to me the other day, “Warning…when your schedule becomes complex enough it will become a “living gestalt entity” and begin to control you….BEWARE!! Oh no..maybe it’s too late….;-)” Yes, it’s too late. IYA is approaching fast and the number of different things I’m working on seems to increase in number weekly (but thankfully not daily.) Adding to the scheduling complexity, I’ve re-taken up horseback riding as a means of staying sane (It is impossible to be freaking out about work while riding a horse. If you try, the horse will remove you). Part of making everything work is going to be living a more regimented life, whether I like it or not.

I’ve decided I need to take a page from the biography of Chandrasakar. While I can never hope to come near his skill as a scientist, I am hoping I can at least achieve some semblance of his time-management skills. If you haven’t read it already, I strongly recommend reading Chandra’s Biography. At one point, while trying to manage his research, students, and being editor of the Astrophysical Journal, Chandra was renowned for dividing his day into segments dedicated to specific tasks and asking people to come back at the appropriate time, even if they only had a 1 minute request. I don’t know if I have Chandra’s will power, especially when students or friends show up at my door or in my Skype, but… I’m going to try. (And I purposely kept the times I normally gab with friends free.)

Part of regimenting my time includes setting aside time to write. It is my hope to take this blog back to being daily starting with this post. Astronomy is moving fast and furious, and I do better keeping up when I’m helping you keep up through what I write.

Tomorrow starts a new semester, a new schedule, and hopefully a new, more organized, way of getting things done.

At least, here’s to hoping.


  1. I hear what you’re saying, as my new semester starts on Tuesday. The time management thing is critical, and I still need to find time for the oh-so-often interruptions from my 5 year old! I keep thinking if I move really fast, time can slow down, and I can get more done. Maybe?

  2. Best of luck with your time management! I do hope you can keep your blogging up. I was not a science or math type in my earlier life but am coming to enjoy learning more since my husband and son are astronomy/math/engineering/science enthusiasts. Reading blogs like yours are sometimes beyond my scope but they challenge me, which I enjoy. I always look for updates to your blogs and love the twitter.

    BTW – The twitter haiku -it is a clever device – the brain works better.

    Keep up the great work and writing – I hope you find time to sleep in there 🙂

  3. Pamela,

    Please keep time fro Astronomy Cast. I love it and I’ve learned more more listening to it than I ever learned in school about space and astronomy.


  4. So Pamela, I just read this article, and its almost been a year since you wrote it. So how did the past year go?

  5. So Pamela, I just read this article, and its almost been a year since you wrote it. So how did the past year go??

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