Friday, September 12, 2008

Unexpected and recurrent challenges

It's been a hectic, wonderful start to the school year here at VLS.  Our students have had a brisk start, with many 1L's anxious to start their outlines and get rolling on preparing for exams. I have also had a brisk start. The new year means there are unexpected challenges that you could not predict or prepare for, as well as recurring challenges that require review and consideration.  My recurrent challenge for this year has been scheduling.  I need to find time to read, write, and renew my commitment to doing everything I can for my profession, but this often takes a back seat to student concerns.  Student concerns, especially the unexpected ones that pop up without warning signs, are the core of my job, but they can also overwhelm even experienced ASPers.  I started my year with a commitment to having office hours and taking student drop-ins on a critical or emergency basis.  That plan went out the window early in the semester. I am now back to taking students drop-ins when they drop-in, which is neither efficient for me or helpful for students who need to learn better calendaring habits.  Part of the problem lies in student expectations, part of the problem lies in faculty expectation, and a lot of the problem lies in my ability to bend the rules for just one student, who becomes 10-20 students by the end of the week.  Scheduling is a recurrent problem, and one that needs a new tack in order to fit in all my responsibilities. 
Unexpected challenges also come up at the start of the school year.  This year we are challenged to find notetakers for students with disabilities. Normally, this is an easy task--students get paid to do something they need to do anyway! But this year we have struggled to find notetakers in  a handful of classes. I have made personal appeals, emailed students, and appeared in classes, to no avail this far. I have confidence we will find the assistance we need, but this is an unexpected challenge that I have not encountered before. 
Even those of us with a few year sunder our belt encounter these challenges, not just ASPer's new to the profession. (RCF)

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