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It’s The Weekend October 3, 2008

Posted by gordonwatts in university.

Today starts the weekend for me: no teaching until Tuesday. I made it through the first full week of classes. Yay for me!

I’m teaching graduate particle physics this quarter and next quarter. This is the first graduate course I’ve ever taught – and it has knocked me flat on my back. It is a lot of work! A lot of what I need to teach I’ve not looked at in years. And the approach contains a lot more group theory than I had in my class! The result is Sunday-Thursday sprint. Now that Thursday evening has hit… well, it is as if I can feel time expanding in front of me. Sadly, that won’t last long. Perhaps a day or two before mild panic sets in again!

Lots of things have been dropped. I hardly read blogs anymore. Which sucks; I miss all the particle physics gossip that is going on. I now have lots of 1/3 written blog postings (1/3 is being charitable). My hobby has ground to a halt (i.e. I’ve made no progress finishing up this).

Hopefully my graduate students won’t kill me because I’m so busy!



1. Aleksie - October 5, 2008

When I was an undergrad, I naively thought that professors had a godlike ability to just remember everything. It wasn’t until I saw them preparing for class did I realize that it wasn’t true.

2. Gordon Watts - October 5, 2008

It really depends — when I was teaching an undergrad, but the 3rd year, I could spend about 3 hours on Sunday afternoon and have the whole week prepared… This is a new course, and some of the material (well, a lot of the material) I’ve not seen in 15 or 20 years… 🙂 So, nothing godlike going on here! Just lots of hard work.

3. Lisa Smith - October 7, 2008

It’s interesting to hear these perspectives. When I was an undergrad I had plans to become a professor in the humanities (English or Art History, my majors). I spent a lot of time feeling nervous about how I was going to pull off a seamless presentation several times a week, and not betray my inner lack of confidence. The few times I gave presentations on various topics, I actually would rehearse my material as if I were preparing for a play. The results were very good, but the whole process did not seem very economical or sensible. After all, I should be spending most of my time on the content of the lectures, not on making sure I don’t mess them up!

4. gordonwatts - October 7, 2008

Yeah — if you spend too much time preparing for class you never get anything else done – here, research counts for something. I find my research time is really getting squeezed. In some sense I’m lucky – I like being in front of the class. So that part I don’t worry about, and I’m fairly convinced I can talk about the material. What I can’t do (to save my life) is work through a complex problem on my feet and have it come out correctly!!

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