The fall semester is one for the books. I have one grade to fix (my error), and I think all of the paperwork is finished on all four campuses. I spent the past weekend in Southern California with friends and family. Friday evening we joined our friends, the Hamedys, in Pacific Palisades, where Farid and I sat up and talked late into the night (again). Saturday, we joined the throngs at the Third Street Promenade and joined my sister and her husband at a Dodgers’ game, in Chavez Ravine. We drove back to the westside on surface streets, including swinging through my old neighborhood by Los Angeles City College. I always get so homesick, when I visit the SoCal. Sunday, we chilled in the Palisades, and spent the evening in South Pasadena at my nephew’s wedding. I got to see my two sisters (officially, one half and one step, but they’re just my sisters, as far as I’m concerned) and the bulk of the family that I regularly engage was there. I hadn’t seen my nephews’ father in a couple of decades, so that was a nice visit. Monday, we drove back the the San Joaquin Valley. Traffic was typical of a four-day weekend until I cleared SoCal, but once I headed into the Valley, it thinned out and “we made good time.”
Tuesday morning, I subbed for a Sociology of Aging class and started my World History class for the first (four-week) session at Fresno City College. Most of the students are education (Liberal Studies) majors, and about half of them are from four-year schools in the area (typical of summer session). I’m looking forward to their first papers to see how they match up with my “regular” Fresno City College students, from prior semesters. This summer, I’m rolling out the new website and class forums — I’m curious to see how that unfolds. The forums section of my website are an experiment, of sorts. Unlike similar forums in BlackBoard or UCMCROPS, these forum are open to all students across campuses and sections, and across semesters. I want to see if there is any benefit for my students taking the same class (for example, this fall when I’m teaching 3 sections of the same class on two different campuses) sharing information in a central repository. I’m also interested to see how the discussions build, over time. Will future classes benefit from the discussion posted by their predecessors? The discussion forums provided by the various campuses at which I work are section and term specific and start out as a blank slate (there is a benefit to that). Earlier, I tried to set up associated pages on FaceBook for my students to accomplish the cross-section/cross-term goals, but since many students did not have Facebook, this proved difficult to implement. By utilizing this new system, I believe it may work better (time will tell).
Following the four-week session, I start the summer session at UC Merced (eight-weeks) and a second (six-week) session, at Fresno City College. I’ll be teaching Intro to Sociocultural Anthropology and 20th Century US History at UC Merced and California History at Fresno City. Although, it sounds like a lot, it’s not really that bad Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in Merced, and evening classes Tuesday-Thursday at Fresno City. For me, this is a light schedule and it will allow me to work on revising my class lectures for all these classes, as well as continue my writing on the Ernest Lowe visits to South Dos Palos and Teviston, as well as my research and writing on Fairmead. The eight-week UC session ends the Friday before the Fall semester begins, at Fresno City College, so there will be little, if any, off time, before the next term. I hope to get away to the coast for a few days, at some point, this summer. I will need some “me” time, by the time it’s over, I’m sure. Worst case scenario: I head out after the end of my last Friday class in Merced, and get home Sunday night. I occasionally need to reclaim my sanity, and even a short visit to the ocean, by myself, is usually sufficient to allow that to happen. I’m sure, at some point this summer, I’ll be posting about my trip to Morro Bay and how wonderful it was for me to take a late evening stroll on the empty streets along the Embarcadero, listening to the sounds of sea gulls and sea lions.
My plans for fall (and beyond) are to limit the amount of travel and focus on my research and writing. I’m currently scheduled to teach three sections of the first half of the US History survey course at Fresno State and Fresno City; one 9-week session of California history, at Brandman in Hanford; and one 4-week section of World History the last month of the semester at City. This will free up at least two weekdays each week, and gives me most evenings and weekends free, while significantly limiting my commute. I will make monthly trips to consult with my advisor, Professor Robin DeLugan, at UC Merced, throughout the semester, but I won’t be making the trip 3-5 days/week, which has been the norm for the past five years. I live just a block from City College and less than seven miles from Fresno State, so even adding the 9 round-trips to Hanford (about 90 miles, total, each trip), I will be able to reclaim a great deal of time.
So, that’s the update, from here. I wonder, exactly, how much of this is of interest to anyone. I think my next post will be more focused on my research — there are some exciting things to report there, both on Fairmead and on visits to South Dos Palos and Teviston.