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Overcommitment (late summer 2017)

Summer is supposed to be easier for faculty and in many ways it is. But I seem to overcommit as much in summer as I do during the academic year. So, classes start in about a month. What do I have to do in that month? I have both scheduled and unscheduled activities. Let’s start with the scheduled activities.

This week (July 24 to July 28), I’m helping my students run a code camp that we’ve entitled Data Science for Social Good. We’re basically there from 8am to 6pm each day, although my days are a bit freer than the students’. They present and help the campers; I sit in the back and provide occasional advice. I also participate in the daily debriefs and sometimes take the lead. For example, today when they found that they had a gap, I suggested an activity and helped prepare it.

Next week (July 31 to August 4), I’m in two workshops. Each morning (9 a.m. until noon), I’m participating in a workshop on using our letterpress and the support for digitally designing plates. The workshop follows on one from two years ago, when we thought broadly about the use of letterpress at Grinnell as part of planning for purchasing one. This followup was supposed to happen last summer, but the materials weren’t ready in time. I’m really looking forward to an opportunity to combine two of my passions [1] and I think of it more as a break than a burden. Plus, I get paid for participating!

Each afternoon (1 p.m. until 4 p.m.) I’m running a CS department workshop. It’s time for us to think about a wide variety of issues, from the interaction of different courses to pair programming strategies in the department to planning for the future. We’re also preparing for our decennial review and welcoming our newest faculty member. And, of course, we need to discuss our exit interviews, both because we regularly do so and because they feed into the review [2]. These kinds of discussions are one of my favorite aspects of the job [3], and it’s nice to get paid for them, too [4]. I need to write a report on that workshop over the weekend of the 5th.

The first half of the following week (August 7 to August 9), I’m in another two workshops [5]. In the mornings (9 a.m. to noon), I’m attending a workshop on Incorporating Cognitive Science Principles into Instruction and Advising. There’s a great group of colleagues in that workshop, and it’s being led by two people I respect greatly. In the afternoons (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.), I’m in a workshop on Data Science. I think I’m even expected to present at it. Again, it will be a great group of people to work with.

And then the Grinnell Science Project starts. I’m one of the five co-directors [6]. We’ll spend Thursday and Friday August 10th and 11th with the SAs [7] getting everything set up and then run GSP from Saturday, August 12th through Thursday, August 17th. GSP requires some work on both weekends [8] and evenings.

Amazingly, I currently have nothing formal scheduled on Friday, August 18th or Saturday, August 19th. But I think I need to be available to discuss CS placement on Sunday, August 20th, and Tuesday, August 22nd. On Monday, August 21st, I plan to drive to Missouri to watch the Eclipse [9]. On Wednesday, August 23rd, I have a faculty meeting and need to represent the department at the Harris madhouse. And then classes start on Thursday, August 24th. Whee!

In addition to those scheduled activities, I have a number of other tasks that should be done. As I’ve mentioned before, I need to write readings and labs for CSC 151. I think approximately two per weekday day is my plan. I need to set up the new syllabi and Web sites for for CSC 301, 321, and 322. Each of those will take a day or two. I’m in charge of placements for CS, Mathematics, and Statistics. I get the data to analyze on Friday, July 28th. I’ll probably meet with the chair of Mathematics and Statistics on Monday the 31st to go over the tentative placements.

Then there’s some writing. I have a long-delayed recommendation to write. I have a long-delayed review to write. My students may want to write a paper for The University of Chicago Data Science for Social Good Conference. I know that our project doesn’t quite fit, but I think it might also be a topic that interests the organizers. I should also get some things ready for SIGCSE, perhaps an extended version of last year’s poster, perhaps something about this summer’s code camps. Unfortunately, we were not able to complete a planned representation study. Maybe I can convince one of the students to finish the data collection in time to get a paper written. I also have a proposal to write for a Digital Humanities fellowship.

What else? I need to work with my colleagues to move materials back into our store rooms [11]. I need to select students for scholarships for various conferences. I probably need to look for more funding for those scholarships. And there’s the usual stuff that always comes up.

I should also reserve time for my daily musings.

Let the fun begin! At least I now have an advisory committee that I use whenever I’m tempted to commit to something new.

[1] CS and Art, for those not paying attention.

[2] That reminds me, I need to collate those.

[3] Working with colleagues is great. Working with students is better.

[4] A big focus of those discussions is the second year experience, so we’re getting small stipends from the College’s HHMI grant.

[5] Unfortunately, I don’t get paid for those workshops.

[6] I’m so fortunate to be able to work with my co-directors Minna Mahlab, Elaine Marluff, Cori Ortiz, and Joyce Stern. I’m equally fortunate to work with the great set of Student Assistants.

[7] Student Assistants.

[8] Clearly.

[9] I should read David Baron’s American Eclipse beforehand. I’d planned to earlier this summer, but still haven’t gotten around to reading anything of length [10].

[10] I also want to read Alissa Nutting’s Made for Love before the end of summer.

[11] We converted a store room into an office and a printer room in to a store room. All the accumulated materials from the old store room need to move to the new store room or to one of our second-floor store rooms. They also need to be organized [12].

[12] They eventually need to be cataloged and re-cataloged, but that’s a job for another semester and another person.

Version 1.0 of 2017-07-24.