Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Call for Advice

I have two issues:

1) What should I do with the many projects that the kids create? All the things that are "special" to them? Right now, their dressers and lamp stands are covered with homemade projects and various treasures such as weather vanes, little books, bendaroos, painted wood crafts, geodes, plastic jewels, toy fish, bugs (real and fake), easter crafts, and other various art projects. I don't know how to deal with all of these "special" things.

2) I'm trying to decide whether or not to apply for a Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment Coordinator position at my college. I did not apply during the first go-around, at which time the college was offering 60% re-assigned time (for several reasons). But nobody stepped up for the position (except for one person, who just wasn't qualified), and they might put the job out again (internally) for two people at 30% each (instead of one person at 60%). There's one other faculty member who I would be willing to work with, and if he applies, I've thought of applying. It's a two year position. (If he doesn't apply, I probably won't either.) Here are the pros and cons as I see them:

  1. I'm going to be doing some of this kind of work any way, and with the position, I can at least get reassigned time for that work.
  2. Less grading (I can drop a class).
  3. A more flexible daily schedule (b/c of fewer classes).
  4. I'm one of the best people on campus for the position (based on experience and understanding), and, really, hardly anyone else is stepping up.
  5. I might be able to do something good for the college.

  1. The politics
  2. A less predictable schedule and workload
  3. More meetings (which I could, perhaps, split with the other person who is also at 30%)
  4. Less autonomy in my daily job
  5. Being accountable for something that could affect the college in big ways--accreditation, faculty mood--and having to report to the VP for Academic Affairs and the Faculty Senate.

Okay! Let the advice roll for items one and two.


Anonymous said...

Yes, apply! Then when you get the job, you can decide if you really want it (plus, you'll have more info about it as a result of going through the interview process). How exciting!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and keep everything in problem #1.

Well, that's what I do. But my husband has decided that soon we will be having The Great Basement Emptying of 2010 pretty soon, so I'll need some advice, too. ;)

Anonymous said...

1) Get them each an "art box" where they pick the stuff they want to keep and if stuff doesn't fit in the box, then they can donate it or recycle it.

2) Less grading you say? APPLY! I don't know how those kinds of positions work, is there a term limit?

courtney said...

1. take 1 thing a week while they're sleeping and throw it out! i bet they won't notice. wait, now that i think about it, your kids are super smart, so they might realize. try it once and see what happens.
2. really think about #5. also, it seems to me that 30% really means 90%.

Gaga said...

Re #1: I know that I cause much of the clutter at your house!!! That's why I send it home with the kids:)I cant' handle it all here. Soooo sorry! I was just looking over some of what remains - trying to decide what to save.

There is no way even a small fraction of the boy's stuff would fit into an art box! A storage building out back, maybe.

The Thirty-Something Bride said...

The only advice I can give (because I'm not what the position means) is to remind you of something. I remember a position (perhaps it was volunteer?) you had long ago that involved extra, non-spcified time and campus politics. I remember at the end of it all, you weren't very happy having to deal with all of that.

Perhaps enough time has passed since then and this position is different enough that you won't come out the other end unhappy.My concern when I read this was that the less predictable schedule could be much tougher now with all the bugs and kiddie poos and PhD writing stuff.

My 2 cents!

However, please note that this is coming from a woman who is trying to blog as a business, start my own bridal accessories company, sell her house, buy a new one and oh yeah, do my day job too.

Oh, and as for all the kid's stuff - can you get his/her bins to save them in so it's not all spread around all the time? Maybe you can plan time to open and peruse - explain it's for safe keeping? I dunno.

Momma said...

1. How about a photograph album of their special things? Let them choose which ones to photograph (and then discard), keeping only recent acquisitions/creations. Do this periodically to keep things at a level you can manage.
2. Make a more definitive pro/con list. Whichever list is longest "wins".

--ginger. said...

Frankly, any part of the job that includes Pros #2 (Less grading) I say pursue like you are chasing a train you need to catch that's leaving the station. You can handle the politics. And I, frankly, love the idea of you (in particular) having impact on where the college is going. There are so many important forces in this discussion right now that need to be spanked and sent home.

Also--on the more important front: I have some shelves in my guys' room for all the "special stuff" and then about every 3 months I go through and sort of cull it all with them. But seriously, every surface in their room is covered, so I'm not a great help on this front. Honestly, sometimes I secretely just THROW. STUFF. AWAY.

TKW said...

#1: Do you hear crickets chirping? Me, too. 'Cause I got nothin.' I need help in that area--badly.

#2: Apply, *if* you get to split the meetings with the other 30%er. Meetings blow.

baxie said...

re job stuff:
heck if I know!

re kid stuff:

keep the stuff you think is awesome, toss the rest, in keeping with the axiom that you know art when you see it. I like the idea of taking pictures of everything, a digital archive of the less bitchin' stuff should more than do it justice.

This Ro(a)mantic Life said...

On #1: I'm voting for the digital archive too, for the stuff that doesn't make the super-special cut. But I'd say don't do it all for the kids -- maybe try to involve them in that vetting process so they'll eventually gain the skills to avoid clutter on their own? Maybe a once-a-month (more or less frequent as you see fit) session of looking at the cool things they've made and having them decide what's really worth keeping? Don't know if you need to explain to them that there is only so much space in the house for everyone to live comfortably, so it's important to share that and respect it by not accumulating so much that it begins to take over other people's space? Kind of makes me think about the critter limit you recently posted about. Stuff needs to be cared for too, like pets.

(This might fly with older kids, but not sure if younger ones will be able to accept it. Then again, yours are precocious.)

As for #2 ... I'm guessing this position is permanent and not a year-long thing. Therefore, a potential life-changing sort of thing to which you can't say, "Well, it's up in x months and I'm never doing THAT again ..." if it turns out you're not crazy about it.

So, I have to say less grading sounds pretty awesome. Learning Outcomes and Assessment Coordination sounds very research-y. Correct me if these aren't part of the job description, but do you like crunching data? Staring at raw statistics and trying to draw conclusions from them? I liked doing this to assess my students' growth, but it was on a much smaller scale (a few sections). Does the size of the population you'll be examining/advocating for matter to you? The time factor for meetings is also something I'd weigh for myself, but in the evening, after a long day on campus, which would you prefer to have to give up time to: grading plus data crunching and reporting on your findings or grading that larger stack of papers?

Hope the questions haven't made the decision harder, but these are things I'd ask myself.

Anonymous said...

When I was little and had too many projects going on, my mom would let us know it was cleaning time and we can pick 3 things to keep. It was hard to part with my other projects, but then I got over it :)

Not sure what to do about #2, but it sounds like a good idea. Besides, how long is the commitment if it does turn out disastrous?

Caz said...

#1. DON'T throw anything out - through my experience, they'll notice at some stage and then you'll feel extremely bad. The "art box" idea sounds good to me.

#2. If you're not 100% sure - don't do it. Two years is a long time!

Caz said...

#2. (cont.)Two years is a long time... and can seem like forever - in a job you don't particularly enjoy!!!

Good Enough Woman said...

1. We have some "methods" (sort of) for storing drawings since the Boy is a prolific artist. It's the bulky projects we've struggled with. I like all of your suggestions about paring down, and Momma's suggestion (aka Auntie Em) about taking the photos is great!

2. You guys sound just like the voices in my head! Just shows how smart you all are (tee hee). The position is a two-year contract that leads up to an accreditation deadline. I will carefully review your feedback over and over again (as I listen to similar voices in my head), and I'm going to contact my colleague to see if he's going to put his hat in the ring for 30%. I think I should also find out what meetings I would have to attend.

Merci Buttercups!

baxie said...

also somewhat apropos, one of the essays in Chabon's latest Manhood for Amateurs deals with this same dilemma.

Good Enough Woman said...

Bax, Maybe I should get that one from the library!

loveskidlit said...

Photograph the projects, and scan the scannable art work. I usually either write on the project who did it and when, or put a piece of paper beside the project saying that when I photograph it. I then file stuff I can't bear to part with in a box that lives in the garage.

As for the other, I don't know. I'll try for something wise sounding later!

Cathy Reaves said...

I sift through the special stuff every so often. Anything that seems worthy of keeping, I put in a box - one for each kid - and label it with the name and "special stuff". I figure when they move out and go to college, they can take the box with them and decide what to do with it. I might have to review first though to see if there is anything I want!

I keep some really cute outfits that have fond memories, art work, special stuffed animals or blankies, and even their report cards! I think they'll enjoy reviewing their report cards when they're older.

Good Enough Woman said...

LKL and Cathy, You guys are organized! And I need to get organized, too. Although my past history doesn't suggest future success, I'm determined to make good use of RubberMaid bins. Thanks for the tips! I see big summer projects in the works . . .