Wearing Many Hats

It’s that time of the year where anyone who works in any type of academic support capacity really feels the crush of the impending fall semester bearing down. At Penn State, we are just under a week away from the first day of classes, and our students have been moving in all week. Our sleepy town is about to wake up for the next 35-ish weeks!

This is where a new position in this field starts to get interesting. I’ve had all summer to prepare, and yet I still don’t seem to feel prepared enough to get things rolling! In the past, I’ve only been reponsible for a specific set of courses each semester. They were courses that I developed and was very familiar with and I could get things launched well ahead of schedule with a cooperating faculty member. I’m missing that level of comfort right now as I swim against the current of new courses, different tools and programs, and new colleagues to work with. I know it will all get done (it has to, since the semester starts whether you’re ready or not!), and I’m documenting things along the way to make this process easier next time around.

Compounding my professional stress is another layer - I’m starting classes this fall toward my doctoral degree, and this time I’m doing it for real. I’ve had serveral false starts at this and spent a ton of money already on courses, but I have a supportive advisor who seems to feel that everything will be okay this time around. Knowing some of her past advisees is really helpful too, especially since they are coworkers who did their degrees while staying employed full time. Working with folks who’ve accomplished it makes it feel slightly more achievable.

I have two classes this semester, Adult Ed. 550 and LDT 576. Both are research oriented courses (from what I understand), and research is one area that I feel I really need to develop in order to round out my professional capabilities. Throughout my work cycles I feel like I am missing many opportunities to study techniques and interventions at deeper levels, but I don’t know what I don’t know. Hopefully that will start to change after this semester!

On top of taking classes, I’m teaching a section of first year seminar once again. This class runs like a well-oiled machine at this point, which is lucky given the additional stress I’m feeling. I am looking forward to meeting a new class of Penn State first years and guiding them through their first semester of college. Perhaps I can channel some of my stress into productive fodder for the course. Guess I’ll find out soon enough. I have my first class on Tuesday, I teach on Wednesday morning, and then I have my second class Wednesday nights. It’s shaping up to be a really busy fall for this instructional designer/instructor/student!