I'm working at home today, writing up lecture notes, commenting on students' lesson plans, and trying to get calc exams graded. Michelle is taking care of Carter for 5 hours today, and there is no way I would be able to get any work done without her here.

I'm upstairs in the office, and when Carter woke up from his nap I could hear him and Michelle talking, and I wanted so badly to run down there and hug him and talk to him too. It sounded like she fed him a snack, and then they went to the park to go play. I'm grateful that he has such a wonderful nanny who does with him the things I would do if I weren't working, but sometimes I feel incredibly guilty that it isn't me doing those things with him.

Even though two days a week, it IS me. Heck, I took him to his swimming lesson this morning, and then we went to Stay n' Play (Austin area moms, check it out, because it's really awesome!), where we played with 3-foot-tall Easter bunnies for a while before Michelle came, at which point I left them to play while I went home to get some work done. Again, *sigh*, Mommy guilt.

But you know, it's not guilt so much as jealousy, really. I love my job, and I love that I can work part time and bring in a little money and keep active in my field and still have 2.5 days a week to be a SAHM and be with Carter. But I still find myself jealous of full time SAHMs. I think about how cool it would be to be able to spend every day with Carter, to just wake up every morning and say, "What should we do today?" It would be cool to be able to take him to playgroups and local parenting meetups that happen on days other than Monday or Friday (which most don't -- it's all Tuesday and Thursday, it seems). It would be nice to be able to relax on the days he doesn't take a nap because I don't have several hours of work hanging over my head, that will now have to be done late at night. Hell, I might even be able to knit again! Or keep up with blogging. Or write that novel...

Any full-time working moms reading this are probably rolling their eyes right now, heh. I suppose the grass is always greener, eh?

Now I'd better get back to those vector calc lecture notes...
This is a post I've been mulling over for a while, and I think I'm finally ready to write it out.

In May 2002 I received my PhD in mathematics from the University of Arizona, and subsequently accepted a tenure track position in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. That was about as good a job as I could have possibly hoped to get coming out of grad school, and the future seemed wide open. We had always planned to start trying to have a baby as soon as I graduated, with the idea that we would have two kids early in my tenure years, leaving me the last few years (when those kids were pre-school aged) to push hard for tenure. I imagined myself as a tenured professor, a successful researcher in my field and providing a example of a strong career woman to my children, who would be enrolled in the best preschool around.

But as most of us know, plans don't always work out the way you expect them to. )
jenn_unplugged: (teacher)
I've been either a teacher or a student for as long as I can remember. I barely remember anything before pre-school, and with the exception of the year I was in Up With People, my life has centered around the academic calendar. So when the "back-to-school" commercials start up in late summer, I start to feel the excitement of a new school year beginning.

I'm so used to time being measured out in academic years that I often forget what it must be like for people whose lives aren't organized around semesters and summers. I can't fathom not having 2-3 weeks at Christmas and 2-3 months in the summer to get things done. School terms are intense and stressful, and I love having that time to step back and reflect on what was accomplished, and then plan for the next go round. I get to do my job in a fairly autonomous way; within certain guidelines and expectations, I'm free to structure my courses as I see fit. I don't have a supervisor telling me what I should be doing at any particular time. It's up to me how all of it happens, and I like that. With the exception of scheduled course and committee meetings, I set my own hours. I can do a lot of my work from home if I want. My non-teaching (and non-committee) time is fairly open, so I can do whatever I want. I can think about lots of cool things, read interesting articles, and do my own research. I get to use my time to try to make a difference in the way mathematics is taught, and I do understand how much of a privelege that is. (And how I bought that privelege in blood, sweat, and tears for five years in grad school...)

But one of the things I have come to realize is especially interesting about being in education is the fact that every year, I start over. If there are students who are driving me nuts, I only have to deal with them for about four months, and then they're gone. If I didn't like the way things turned out in a course, I get to improve it and try again the next year. I am almost guaranteed that I will only get better at my job as time goes on.

And you know, that's pretty damn cool. :-)

Ergh.

Aug. 10th, 2006 01:00 pm
jenn_unplugged: (Resistance is futile)
Do you ever wonder what the heck you're working so hard at something for? I mean, academic freedom is great and all, but after a few years of working towards improving a course, it's a bit frustrating that someone new can come in and say, "No, I think what you've been doing is crap and I'm going to do it my own way, with no good reason other than that I want to."

I know that's how it's supposed to work to an extent (and hey, isn't that what J and I did when we redesigned the course anyway?), but it's still frustrating. And it makes me just want to close my office door and do my own thing even more than I already do, which is really not how I want to spend my career. Have I created this isolation at work for myself, or would it have gone that way no matter what, given the people and the environment?

*sigh*
I meant to post about this earlier, but this week has gotten away from me.  So I'm in Portland for the next two weeks, teaching a two-week math course for teachers in the Masters' program at Portland State University.  It's a variation of a course I teach at UT every spring, called "An Advanced Perspective on School Algebra".

Anyway, I showed up Monday morning to find that I have four students in my class.  Four.  Wow.  Well, they pay me the same if it's four or twenty-four, and this way the grading sure is easy.  It's more like a little seminar or study group than a class.  The students are amazing, though, and were completely willing to jump in and work hard and talk about mathematical ideas.  Either that, or the size of the class means no one can hide or zone out.  Either way, it makes for a great experience for all of us, I think.

I'm living in a little one-bedroom apartment in downtown Portland, about a half a mile from the university.  The ground floor of the building has a Starbucks and a bakery and a convenience store and a couple of restaurants, so everything I need is just outside.  I live over a Starbucks!!!  Hee.  

Lack of AC, emergency doctor visits, and a wine bar )
First, something funny:

Yet more proof of global warming )

I'm at the OC Airport, about to head back to Texas for a few days. This has been a really great week, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to come and help teach this workshop. It was an amazing amount of fun, much more than I was expecting it to be. The participants were mostly all young professors who were truly interested in improving their teaching, and they worked hard all week. We had a lot of fun along the way, of course, and I'm really looking forward to seeing some of them again. :-)

More about the week and LA in general )
A week ago today, I woke up in Rome and flew to London. Two days ago, I woke up in Austin and flew to North Carolina. This morning, I woke up in Mount Airy, NC and I'm now in Los Angeles. I can't believe I was at my cousin's wedding last night on the east coast and now I'm on the west coast! Of course, Doug is on his way to Israel at the moment, so that's even weirder.

I talked to him a couple of hours ago, and he confirmed that the security for El-Al (the Israeli national airline) is truly insane.  He was required to check in three hours early for his flight from JFK to Tel Aviv, and in addition to the normal screening procedures, he had to go through two lengthy interviews and they took his carry-on bags for TWO HOURS to check through them.  He was left with only his wallet, passport, and boarding pass.  And before he got on the plane, he was wanded completely and his wallet was gone through, and THEN he was randomly selected for additional screening!  They certainly don't take any chances.

I'm still a little freaked about about his going to Israel, but there's nothing to be done about it.  He dropped me off at the airport in Greensboro this morning (he was flying out of Raleigh) and I actually clung to him and cried for a few minutes.  I could never be a military wife.  I have no idea how you watch your partner go off to a war zone with the very real possibility that they won't come back.

And wow, back in California!  I drove past two Del Tacos and an In-N-Out Burger on the way to the hotel!!!  Is it weird that one of the things I miss about living in the west is the fast food?  :-P  The workshop starts bright and early tomorrow morning, and I'm not quite ready for it -- so I'll be doing some serious work on that tonight.  But for now, I'm off to the welcome reception.  :-) 
I'm in New York at the moment, and I'll post about the weekend and the Tony experience tomorrow. It's on CBS tonight at 8:00/7:00!

Last of the pictures )
It's been a while since I've had a chance to get online long enough to post! I've been really busy this week and I've done so much that it seems like it must have been two weeks by now.

Wednesday: Freezing my ass off )

Thursday: Les enfants )

Friday: Loooong day, but a good one )

And Saturday )
I had a long and interesting day yesterday, and no time to get online at all. I'll try to summarize the trip so far to give you a sense of what I'm doing here.

Monday )

Tuesday )

I have to go to a meeting now, even though I have much more I could say. I will try to post more soon, though I'm not sure when. :-)
I don't have much time to be online this week, but I just wanted to post to say that I'm here in Grenoble. I'm staying with a colleague who has a large (4 bedroom!) flat in the heart of the city, within easy walking distance to everywhere I need to be this week. I spent today observing math and English classes in the French equivalent of a high school, which was very interesting.

I'm learning a lot of French as well. A couple of months ago I could barely say more than hello, and I can follow quite a bit of conversation now and even manage to say things here and there. I have a lot to learn, obviously, but I think I probably will after a week of having to get around in French!

That's all I have time for at the moment - I have to go meet everyone for a tram ride and dinner. I'll try to post more later. :-)

WTF???

May. 10th, 2006 07:38 pm
jenn_unplugged: (Resistance is futile)
I just got an email from a colleague I'll be seeing at a conference this weekend here in town. We're working on a project together, and he said, why don't we get together after your talk on Friday? And I was like, I'm giving a talk?

I pulled up the schedule, and sure enough, I'm on it! I'm scheduled to give an untitled talk on Friday from 12:45-1:30. They NEVER told me anything about this! No one from the conference organizing committee asked me. No one even mentioned it. I just went through my emails, and there is NOTHING from them between the announcement of the conference and the final schedule that got sent out a week ago. And I hadn't looked closely at the schedule, either -- I've been out of town and crazy busy, and I was just going to pop in when I could.

I have no idea what I'm going to do.

*snerk*

May. 1st, 2006 03:06 pm
A colleague and I are working this week towards putting in an NSF proposal titled "Developing Interdisciplinary Content Knowledge through Lesson Study". It will be really cool because we're pairing up inservice and preservice teachers and college math and science faculty to develop innovative lessons and study how to teach them. Someone who was reviewing the proposal asked us if we had a catchy acronym for our project, so I stared at the title and said, "Well, we could call it D-I-C-K-Le-S..."

And everyone burst out laughing.

So our project is now unofficially called the "Dickless Project". Which is somewhat fitting, as there are no men involved. But I doubt NSF will find our title amusing, so we're going to insert Math/Science in there somewhere to break it up.

See how my mind works? ;-)

Argh.

Jan. 23rd, 2006 03:02 pm
jenn_unplugged: (Resistance is futile)
I despise reading over copy-edited text, because I invariably disagree with the choices the copy-editor made regarding punctuation. Here are two examples from the first page of my chapter:

"Mathematics educators and mathematicians have recently begun to reconsider the university mathematics preparation of teachers, paying careful attention to the development of knowledge of mathematics for teaching; an understanding of the underlying processes and structures of concepts, relationships between different areas of mathematics, and knowledge of students' ways of thinking and mathematical backgrounds."

They replaced the colon I put there with that red semi-colon, but that doesn't make sense because the text after the semi-colon cannot stand on its own. That text is intended to be a definition of the term "knowledge of mathematics for teaching". WTF?

Here's another: "It may be that carefully guided experiences in novel and unfamiliar contexts such as those afforded by elementary number theory, can help pre-service teachers develop a more sophisticated mathematical perspective, as well as a deeper understanding of the mathematics they will be teaching."

The red comma was added, which makes no sense. It either needs to be deleted or a matching comma should be added at the beginning of the "marked off" text, after the word "contexts".

It makes me look like a bad writer when they insist on using incorrect punctuation, you know?

*headdesk*

ETA: I just noticed that the header on the odd pages reads "11. RIVISITING ALGEBRA" instead of Revisiting Algebra. OMG, who are these people?

ETA 2: On the other hand, I wrote crap like this: "When the class was working on a problem, about half of the students were typically listening intently, offering suggestions, while the other half, bent over their notebooks and calculators, worked on the problem on their own." *winces* Comma happy, Jenn?
jenn_unplugged: (teacher)
What seems like years ago, I submitted a chapter to a book. It's finally coming out! It's even in LEA's catalog now, yay! You can see its lovely retro-looking cover here: Number Theory in Mathematics Education. Click on the "Table of Contents" and you'll see me in there. :-)
We went downtown for dinner last night and swung by campus to take a picture of the lit tower. I couldn't believe how many people were there! It was insane, and everyone was in UT shirts. It was 9:00 at night, but the place was packed -- and there was nothing special happening -- people were just there to see the Tower and celebrate.

Pictures here )
I got this email this morning:

Jenn:

The UTeach Natural Sciences French exchange program is coming around
again and I wanted to check to see if you were interested in leading
the group to France this year (May 27 - June 9). Pam Powell is the
key organizer and she will need to know pretty soon. Pam can also
provide specific details such as itinerary and activities. Here is
the general format:

French Exchange Program

February 24 - March 9
French Teachers in Austin
Room and Board provided by UTeach Host

May 27 - June 9
UTeach Teachers in France
Room and Board provided by French Host

Eeee! I've wanted to get involved in this program, and it looks like I will be the "chaperone" for our undergraduates! I'm so excited!

0_0

Dec. 7th, 2005 02:25 pm
jenn_unplugged: (Beer)
UT is closed as of 2:00 today because bad weather has been forecasted. Welcome to Texas, huh?

It's 33 degrees right now, which is pretty stunning for the middle of the day here. The normal temperature would be in the mid-50s. It may even snow. And I don't know how to light the pilot light in my fireplace! This is the coldest it's been since we put in the gas logs, and I can't even start the fire.

*flails*

ETA: Success! I kept sticking the long lighter down around where I thought the pilot light for the gas logs should be and twiddling with the gas knob, and it finally lit! Yay!

28 degrees out there now...

0_o

Dec. 5th, 2005 03:25 pm
jenn_unplugged: (teacher)
I just poked my head in the admin's door to ask her a question.

Her: I have a question for you about [student name].
Me: Who?
Her: [student name]. You're listed as the supervisor for her Master's thesis.
Me: Huh? What? I don't even know who that is!
Her: Hmmm. That's not good.
Me: I can't believe I would have forgotten about a Masters student. Wouldn't I have had to sign a paper to be listed as her advisor?
Her: No, I don't think so. But I don't know why she would list you if you weren't her advisor.
Me: I just can't believe I would have forgotten about a Masters student. She certainly hasn't contacted me recently, which doesn't bode well.
Her: Yeah -- I'll send her an email.

So I'm thinking that if your Master's thesis advisor doesn't know who the hell you are right before you're supposed to graduate, you lose at grad school.
I'm reviewing proposals for a conference I'm on the program committee for, and just came across one that cites one of my papers. *grins*

It looks like the NSF grant that two professors in the math department and I applied for is going to get funded for $100,000. This is pretty amazing news, because I thought for sure we'd have to rewrite that grant and try again next round!

I have moved to the third floor, and my lovely view of the courtyard and nesting pigeons has been replaced by an alley. Waah! I miss my pigeons. And the alley is kind of loud.

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