Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tales from the first week

Overall the first week has been going smoothly: no technology failures, my lectures have been going well, and the students are great. However, one of my labs is still severely underenrolled, and now the decision regarding whether to run the lab or not is becoming very political. The students in this lab are all second-semester biology majors who are almost ready to transfer; they need this lab to transfer, and most of them can't take any of the other lab sections we're offering this semester. Because of these constraints, the dean has been leaning to letting the lab run, but now other faculty are beginning to question whether the lab should be run, and they might cause the lab to be cancelled. I get to sit in the middle of all of this, and have the very fun role of trying to explain all of this to the students (minus the politics), many of whom are quite worried about what they'll do if the lab is cancelled.

I also got to inform a returning Iraq vet that they couldn't take my course, which resulted in this vet most likely not being able to transfer (to a school they were already admitted to) in the spring. I'd had this student in my class a few years ago when they got called up mid-semester, and now this student wanted to complete the course. Unfortunately, this student needed a few courses other than mine to transfer, and the course schedules conflicted. The student was begging me to do some kind of workaround, anything to let them transfer, but I had to sit there and tell them that no, there was no workaround. So this student survived the hell of Iraq, only to come back to the states and find some puny rules-stickler prof standing in the way of their education. It didn't feel good.

And then, during one of my labs, I heard a line that nobody teaching a second-semester biology majors course ever wants to hear:

"So, only animals have DNA, right?"

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