The Old College Try: Preparing for a New School and Students


I’m on vacation right now–my first full day down in Vero Beach, Florida.  I simply love this place.  Warm air, bright sunshine, and a cool breeze flowing off the ocean not more than 50 yards away.  I sent Lisa off to the masseuse, and I’m sitting in the hallways while Noah take a much needed nap.  A still-hot cup of hazelnut coffee by my side, and I know I’m “home.”

Of course, after another day or so, I’ll begin to do what I do best:  work while on vacation.  It’s a compulsion (or illness) I’ve had since… well, for as long as I’ve been married and vacationed.  But it’s also enjoyable knowing that I’m getting ahead in my work and making my life easier for the upcoming school year.  Some of my projects for this summer in preparation for my college courses this fall are:

  • Updating all of my Power Point slides so they all look uniform and are 100% free of all typos.  This should thoroughly appeal to my inner obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Still, having notes that aren’t precise doesn’t give a good impression.
  • Select initial reading and writing exercises.  The textbook is going to change and I can’t sure which reading selections will remain and which will be changed, so no point in selecting readings at this time.  The fact my department builds and publishes its own textbook though is a nice bonus when I get to help select some readings for it in a few years when we update it again.
  • Continue polishing the course outline and schedule.  I recently found out some additional guidelines which will give me even more freedom to develop the course the way I think will best serve the students.  Cool in that who doesn’t like autonomy; Challenging in that you don’t want to leave students high and dry.
  • Developing a standardized vocabulary.  Ok… this is a project I’ve wanted to put into practice for a long time now and was nearly put in charge of this when I was adjuncting–only I left the part-time college position for a full-time one at a different school.  Creating a common vocabulary is really important to helping students successfully navigate later level of education so this is something I want to get moving on… but it’ll take some time to filter out what’s important from what isn’t.

So that’s the plan for vacation.  Thoroughly ambitious and I’ll be thrilled to get half of it done.  With less than one full day here at the Disney Vero Beach Resort, I’m learning that 75% of our time is spent with “Noah, stay out of that!  Noah, come over here.  Noah, let’s play with this toy instead of that hairdryer in the tub full of water” etc, etc, etc.

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About fhelvie

I live in CT with my wife and two sons. I am also writing my doctoral dissertation, which is focused on the relationship between American literature and comic book superheroes. I have served as a panelist at a number of conferences discussing my research in comics, medieval literature, and pedagogy. Most recently, I had the good fortune to present at the New York Comic Con. In addition to my work in comics scholarship, I'm also a full-time professor of developmental English.
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