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Fall 2016

Monday: April 24, 2017

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Phew! I had only intro courses (cultural and physical), and I rocked it. There were ups and downs as always, but I was able to finally get a sense of what teaching looks like down the road: when you aren’t swamped by preparing for new classes at every turn but instead free to hone the courses you’ve already taught.

I updated all my lectures, but also modified them a little to include some teaching philosophy changes. For instance, at the end of every lecture I had a slide with “Before moving forward, be able to:” and a list of items like “compare and contrast gracile vs. robust australopiths” or “summarize the development of anthropological thought” – basically, the main theme for that day’s work.

I incorporated two-minute quizzes for pretty much each class day. This was a single question drawn from the previous day’s reading that was not covered in lecture (and they knew that). It forced them to read, and overall the student evaluations (and scores!) suggested it was a good idea. Students always appreciate “easy points” and some admitted they needed that incentive to do the homework.

In my cultural course, I included discussions regularly. I was a wee bit nervous at first, but I intentionally paired them together with someone different from themselves. I started it with the discussion on race, so before we went into that whole bit, I had everyone self-identify. While they watched a short video, I made a list to pair different races and did my best to also pair opposite sexes (though that is difficult at my university since almost all my students are female) as well as separate people who clearly knew each other. They kept this pairing for the rest of the semester, and if time allowed, I had them group up into larger groups after a short time in just pairs. The student evals spoke volumes on this: it was by far their favorite activity because they learned so much, and it became a reason many listed my course as their favorite. I know from walking around and checking in with each pair that their eyes were definitely getting opened to other people’s experiences and perspectives. To think I was nervous about that, ha!

In my human origins course, I went back to teaching like I did when I was a supplemental instruction leader as an undergrad: I focused on helping them learn how to learn rather than what to learn (that was given in lecture and reading materials, so my performance is what got shifted). I told them personal stories about how I learned (or failed to learn) as an undergrad in the same course, and hounded them about confirmation bias. In almost every lecture, I was able to tie in how confirmation bias is a nasty and devious little thing, and how it is constantly working against them. I pointed out the mishaps students have made in my experience over the last few years. I gave them rhyming and acronym tips, I gave them drawings of charts, I gave them silly jokes – all the things that I had used when I was taking the class, or that other students have shared with me. Again, my evals rolled in and students loved it – in just doing that, I really feel that I was able to add aid to the growing issues of critical thinking and media literacy (as in #fake_news and #alternative_facts).

Overall, I was no longer overwhelmed, and I decided that I could probably pursue the teaching thing. Remember, I never wanted to be a teacher, and I do still find it to be a cosmic joke – especially since I appear to be quite good at it. I was not sold on the idea (administrative issues, as well as super lame things like people who clearly plagiarize and then are quite upset that I fail them, et cetera), but I was no longer fighting against it. [That said, there will be more about my future in teaching coming up.]

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“Missing out”

Friday: January 18, 2013

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I got stopped in the food court area today by a former student. She mentioned that her friends were taking cultural anthropology and asked if they had me. Then she learned I wasn’t teaching it this semester, so she told them that they were “missing out on a great professor.”

It was just a little something to brighten my day, so I wanted to gloat about it;)

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End of 3rd Semester Update

Thursday: December 13, 2012

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Well, well, has it been another semester already?

I realize that this blog cannot have the priority I wish it could until my work at school is done. Which is ok, considering I am doing so much and it’s thrilling, but I feel like I have so much to say!

Over break, I will try to update some, but no promises. Here are some pics to hold you over:

Pirate me burning GRE study material.

My husband, housemate, and I throw an annual Halloween party. As hosts, the three of us dress similar, and this year we were pirates, arg. My friend Jaclyn and I burned her GRE study materials. It was therapeutic.

My undergrad gang, mascot included.

I think the photobomber was friends with the dude who took the pic, but I am not sure. My cohorter Anna calls these three my “posse” because we hang out a lot, but really I am more like their rescued and adopted stray animal because they are experts at UIndy stuff, and I am always asking them where to go, who to talk to, and what things mean. My husband teases me that I can get along so well with people literally 10 years younger than me, but I can just as easily get along with people 10 years older, so I don’t take offense. Maybe I am an ageless spirit.

Enjoying dinner and drinks at Shallow's.

Minus faculty, the bio department, and about 2 others, the above group is pretty much all the people I hang around with at school. It is a mix of grads and undergrads. It was to celebrate the end of our Theory of Archaeology class, though not everyone in the photo took it; some were there to celebrate Zach’s 21st birthday too. And Amy is graduating this semester. It was just a good time to finally get together and celebrate.

In the trench, cleaning up.

Those of us who have been involved with excavations at the Lew Wallace Study were invited to a private sushi dinner hosted by the new owners of Lew Wallace’s house. It was a pretty cool experience – not only to see his house, or to have a personal chef preparing food, but the owners were very friendly. The tornado that blew through and left us in a hail storm? I could have done without that. Anyway, when I got there, Anne told me people had mistaken my photograph for hers. I wasn’t sure what she meant until I saw it on the table: I was in the newspaper. Here is a link to the article: History Beneath Us Returns to Study.

Site survey in a field.

This photo was taken in northern Indiana. While there isn’t much to look at, it captures how unexciting some aspects of archaeology is. Dr. M is using the total station, sighting in the prism that is being held by someone at the copse of trees, far enough away you cannot see them. The purpose was to lock in on the backsight, so that the tripod could record points accurately on a grid created in previous work. We then walked the majority of this field, all the way back to the horizon line of the field, then returning to the street, then moving over a couple feet to return back to the horizon line. We flagged every significant item: broken ceramic pieces, unusual rocks (possible tools), historic brick pieces (there was a brick factory here once), and modern day trash (to do research on how garbage moves across the landscape). Then we went back to each and every flag with the prism, while someone sighted in the points. It was hot and unexciting except for the humor in company. Yet, I would always choose this type of work over my previous job (sorry chicas!).

I have much to share, but alas, I still have responsibilities. Tonight, I will be grading my students’ finals, reading some late submitted papers, and submitting final grades.

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Adjunct Professor

Thursday: September 6, 2012

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I haven’t posted because all summer I have been working diligently to design a course for Cultural Anthropology when not scanning teeth. When the opportunity came up to teach this semester, I did not take it lightly. I am still working as a Research Associate, and it is getting to be crunch time for my thesis. The addition of teaching (not one, but two classes!) on top of that is a heavy task.

This semester will prove to be the busiest yet. Aside from teaching and DENTALWEAR work, I am enrolled in Archaeological Theory and Medical Anthropology. But of course, my utter despise of free time (what?) has coerced me into auditing a Comparative Osteology class as well. Plus there is still that whole commute thing on the weekends to see my husband and cats.

Oh and I moved to my own apartment literally right next to campus – I can walk! However, there are roaches, and I may be forced to move again if the landlord doesn’t get it under control. Soon.

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