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January 14, 2007

Where will we be next year?

Of the dozen 2007-08 teaching jobs I've applied fo, the only development so far is that one search has been canceled.

Frankly, I don't have high hopes for any of these applications. Since I don't yet have my Ph.D. (coming in April!), my applications are going into "Pile B," to be referred to only if there is no suitable and available candidate in "Pile A." I have applied at colleges and universities in various (mostly small) cities across the easteren half of the United States, including the Rose Hlulme Institute of Science and Technology in Terra Haute and the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.

Assuming I don't get a pleasant surprise from one of these institutions, my goal will be to get an anjunct job as close as possible to Kansas City, where Terry is living and working. A couple of months ago, I met with the heads of the history departments at Washburn University in Topkea and Benedictine College in Atchison. Both more or less told me I would be welcome to teach as an adjunct for the 2007-08 academic year. Over the next couple of months, I will try to confirm one position or the other.

The other thing I will be doing is presenting a paper at the Missouri Valley History Conference in Omaha at the beginning of March. My friend Rich Schneirov suggested networking at regional conferences, and this one presents the most convenient opportuntiy.

-- Norty

chapter 5!

To my great relief, I hit my schedule target for completing Chapter Five of my dissertation.

During semester break, I went to Kansas City, where I was happy to spend three weeks with Terry -- and to see 4-month-old grandson Drew several times. (Terry and I went to Tucson over Thanksgiving, and we enjoyed seeing one-year-old and just-starting-to-walk grandson Elliott.) Terry's one-bedroom apartment is twice as big as my Sioux City efficiency -- which meant (as Terry quickly observed) that I had plenty of room to spread out all my documents for my dissertation as well as for preparing my two spring semester syllabi.

By the time I headed back to Sioux City on January 8 (with a day of visiting Harlan customers in Columbus, Nebraska along the way), I had only about five hours work remaining on the first draft. As usual, I got critical feedback from my advisor, Norm Yetman. Then, this weekend, I made the required revisions. Earlier this evening, I e-mailed the revised chapter to Norm and also to the other two core members of my committee, Xiao-huang Yin and Ted Wilson. (The other two commitee members don't have to do any reading until I am finished with the enitre dissertation.)

My next schedule milestone is Chapter Six, the final chapter. My target is to complete the first draft by the end of February. I have tentatively set April 23 as a defense date. Besides writing first and second drafts of Chapter Six, I'll need to do the same for the Conclusion (which will be a mini-chapter, if I have time).

-- Norty

first semester!

It was a hectic four months, but I survived the first semester as an adjunct instructor.

As in doing anything for the first time, there was quite a learning curve. I had to read everything the students had to read, prepare class plans (with little frame of reference), and grade lots of papers. For the first six weeks, I was working until an average of midnight six nights a week. A third of the students dropped out of my World History class -- probably in part because I was having trouble organizing coherent classes, in part because it was an early (8:00 am) class, and in part simply because the class is difficult at best. By the end of September, though, I was hitting my stride. I felt confident in the classroom, I established pretty good rapport with the students -- and they stopped dropping my class. My U.S. History class was definitely easier for me to teach the first semester, but the students who stuck it out for World History all did well. I am teaching the same two classes for spring semester, and I am curious to see how similar or different my experiences will be.

Terry spent two months with my in Sioux City, reading lots of mysteries and trying to find an interesting jobs. She had one interview for a worthwhile job, which she didn't get, and otherwise found lots and lots of ads for call center work -- a booming industry in Greater Siouxland (which includes North Sioux City, SD and South Sioux City, NE). Finally, she got two offers in Kansas City in her former industry -- pharmaceutical research -- and took the better one. She is not only doing project administration, as she was before we went to China, but also has a chance to use her long-dormant legal skills. So, we'll have a "commuter marriage" until early May.

I've received my first student evaluation forms, including a computer-generated summary -- with computer-generated recommendations for maintaining and improving specific techniques, no less! Now, I just need to meet with Patrick, my department chair, and find out what the reports mean.

-- Norty