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The Last Semester

Tuesday: January 15, 2013

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Today I began my last semester at UIndy. I am enrolled in Mortuary Archaeology, Applied Statistics, and some Thesis Writing hours. I am also auditing Soil Morphology and teaching Monkeys, Apes, and Humans (an anthropology class cross-listed as a biology class). I have two teaching assistants to help with the labs and grading.

This will be a new teaching experience for me in several regards. First, the room is not optimal. It is very, very cramped, with a projector not a tv, and the layout is awkward. Second, I am to mirror my advisor’s class, so essentially I am using his power points (though I made them more visually appealing, in my opinion). At first, I thought this would be much easier than starting from scratch like I did with Cultural, but I failed to realize that I am a linear thinker, which maybe is not how anyone would describe him (at least, not myself). It will be interesting to see how I can work with the materials provided. Third, I have obviously never worked with teaching assistants before. I know them personally, so I know there shouldn’t be any issues, and just the idea that they can do the grading for me is exciting! Fourth, this class has a lab component. Essentially, this should not be all that different than from when I TA’d a year ago, except that more will be expected from me as I travel throughout the room. I am the teacher, I ought to know everything, right?

My husband has a bet that I should drop Soil Morphology. I have until the end of this week to decide for a full refund. I want to keep it (auditing Comparative was so awesome because I got to do my favorite thing – learn – but without the stress of turning in assignments or being assessed on a grading scale), but the reality is that I do not want to repeat what I did to myself last semester.

I am experiencing different thoughts this semester than in the past. I am not sure if it is from being burnt out last semester, being pushed to the edge but surviving and growing from last semester, or a wee bit of impatience to be done and get back to my life up north. Likely a combination of all and then some. But I am in a good place right now, and I hope this semester will not be as trying personally for me as last time.

It is my last semester though, which gives me a bit of melancholy. Now, I do still have a field school requirement to meet this summer and finish my thesis project, but essentially, I am almost done!

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Conferences and Classes

Thursday: May 3, 2012

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Anthropologists meet at several events annually, depending on area of study and travel expenses, of course. The American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) was held in Portland this year. I did not attend, but my advisor and cohort did. Instead, I ran two sections of Monkeys, Apes, and Humans alone, and then helped guide the undergraduate Dental class with the bio graduates. I don’t like talking in front of groups, so I was happy that all classes were lab exercises (not lecturing), but it is something I need to get over soon (I will get to that…)

The Society for American Anthropology (SAA) was held the following week in Memphis. My advisor was the only one of us who had a chance to go. My Peru field school assistant and now friend Keith presented on the sample I helped collect data from. If you click on the image, it will take you to his site and you can see a larger version.

Another Possible Complication for the use of Harris Lines as an Indicator of Growth Disruption by Keith Chan

I am bummed I did not make it to either since I missed out on meeting some mentors in the field, but there is always next time, right? Next year, I hear that the AAPA will be in Tennessee and the SAA in Hawaii. I am not sure if I can make it to either one, but it is satisfying to know that I picked a field of study that involves traveling :)

And I may not have gotten to go to the meetings, but I was approached by the department Chair and asked if I was interested in teaching Cultural Anthropology. At the time, I was not sure what he meant (I had thought he meant that night). Long story short, I am being given the opportunity to teach a class this fall. Cultural anthropology has not been my area of focus, but it is a 100 level class, and I have been given notes and presentations from others who have taught it. Jeremy has even offered to let me sit in his class over the summer for a refresher, which I haven’t decided on yet. I haven’t decided yet about actually accepting the opportunity either (although my inner voice is screaming “Yes you have! You are doing it!”). If I am going to teach, I do not want it to be a blunder – I want to be able to focus on it. If I am going to have another semester of grad studies, I do not want it to blunder, either – I have to be wary of my stress level and time management. Aside from those two large issues, there is nothing but positives: I get paid, which roughly will cancel out my school costs; I get the experience of teaching; I get something for my CV; I help the department out when they are in a pinch; etc etc.

I really shouldn’t kid myself – I am going to do it. How could I not? I enjoyed SI-ing during my undergrad life. And Boy put it to me like this: I get to spread the good word of anthropology to newbs. It freaks me out, to have to present 50 minutes two or three times a week, instead of 15 minutes three times a year at a conference, but I just need to get over that. While I had never defined myself as a person who wanted to teach, I think I have to agree with others that it may suit me. I might as well find that out now, so I can begin pursuing that career when I graduate, rather than guessing that is what I ought to be doing when I find myself without a job. Right?

Oh, but the most ridiculous awesome part is that I have academic freedom to design the class myself, down to picking out the very book the students will be using. To say I am shocked is an understatement. To say I am ready for that responsibility is slightly bending the truth. But I have good people to refer to and help me out, so it will work out in the end.

Seriously, though…Me? A teacher?  C R E E P Y .

Oh, and one of my teachers puts together a newsletter for the department. They are huge files so it may take some time to load, but you can catch up with Volume 1 Issue 1 (details the Sapelo Island field school), Volume 1 Issue 2 (Lew Wallace excavations and a little bit about the DENTALWEAR Project), and Volume 2 Issue 1 (where there is a blurb about my research associate job with DENTALWEAR – this one isn’t posted yet at UIndy so I uploaded it for you).

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Cash in my pockets

Thursday: March 8, 2012

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Delightful trivia: I am still alive and well, in case you are wondering.

Also, I found out yesterday that my TA position is a paid position! So today I filled out all the paperwork and shall actually have an “income” again. Minimum wage at 7 hours a week, but hey, that’s just about enough to pay my weekly gas bill so I’ll take it!

My TA position involves grading stacks of papers. Stacks of papers without names or staples or legible handwriting or right answers or turned in on time or picked up on time. I have learned a lot from this: I really was an upstanding undergraduate. Who knew?

Stack of lab assignments to grade.

A lot has happened, is happening, and will happen. Sometimes I ask myself, “Who’s idea was this anyway?” and sometimes I wouldn’t do it any other way, and most of the time my brain is too overwhelmed to process anything but the direct task in front of me. I’ll share when free time comes ’round again.

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Semester II

Monday: January 23, 2012

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After I get situated with all the new assignments, I will begin posting class notes again.

Aside from my cohort, I share classes with some undergrads I already know which is cool. We also share classes with some biology grad students (mostly focused in forensic anthropology). At first that seemed daunting: perhaps because their program is not new but well established, or perhaps because there are so many of them. I am not sure, but I felt like it would be hard to keep up, that they must be more advanced than me, something. Silly of course, because they wouldn’t be taking the same classes if that were the case! They all seem cool so I look forward to getting to know them.

I did get the TA position for undergrad Monkeys, Apes, & Humans (all three of us were fortunate for a position) – two classes back to back with two different teachers. I am also sitting in on the undergrad Human Evolution class to refresh myself and hear perhaps other perspectives as well as updated discoveries. I will be working on a project for the Indiana Academy of Science coming up in March, traveling to Portland for the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in April, and writing up a report on my own research by the end of the semester for Archaeology of Eastern North America (with the possibility of publishing). I’ll also have had to decide what my thesis will be, write a paper in Molecular Anthropology, and do fun things with teeth in Dental Anthropology. My job as the Research Associate is going much smoother this semester too, I feel like I have the system down and will really get to make a dent in the project.

This semester will cut me deep to my core, though: I have a class at 8:30am. Since that aligns with a lot of businesses, I give myself about an hour for traffic, with an hour before to wake up and get ready, and with winter upon us, an extra half hour just in case. Meaning that I wake up at 6am. For the last half of my life, I have been on a night schedule, waking roughly by 1pm (last semester I averaged 9AM and that was rough). Going to sleep at 9pm makes me feel silly but hopefully I will get the hang of it quickly (why yes, I need 9 hours of sleep). You must keep in mind that as you scoff at my hardship, if most people wake up by say even 7am, imagine trying to wake up by midnight. Exactly. Add to that, my school is in another time zone, an hour ahead of what I am use to. Having a home and husband on Central Time prevents me from fully switching to Eastern so I feel caught oddly between. Oh, and need I even bother mentioning I am not a morning person?

Overall, I feel busier than ever. I’ve had one week and it really feels more like a whole month!

Here’s a quick sketch for a dental lab assignment. I do not have Aperture reloaded yet so forgive the crummy quality, I used the print-screen option to resize the image.

sketch of a mandible

Quick sketch of a mandible, highlighting key features.

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World Map World Map
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