Thursday, June 02, 2011


The Interregnum

Don’t tell anyone...

The brief gap between graduation and the start of summer classes is blissfully quiet.

I can actually get some work done. I can even have open-ended conversations without looking at my watch every ten minutes. (Yes, Gen Y readers, I wear a watch. It’s a generational thing. Boomers wear digital watches. X’ers wear analog watches. Y’s just use their phones.)

These respites are fewer and shorter than they once were. There was a time, not too long ago, when summer classes were mostly afterthoughts. They still aren’t as popular as the regular semesters, but they have momentum. That’s mostly to the good; the literature I’ve seen on low-income student success suggests that continuity of study over the course of the year tends to lead to better results, since students can get into a groove and stay there. And I’m a huge fan of students who need developmental classes getting them during the summer so they can hit September on-track to graduate.

But there’s also something to be said for a moment of relative peace and quiet.

Earlier this week I had a glorious morning without a single meeting. I was able to spend consecutive hours -- plural! -- actually thinking about one project. By myself! As a parent of young children, that’s pretty much out of the question at home, and at an active campus it’s pretty much unheard-of at work. But this week, it actually happened. And it brought a clarity that wasn’t going to happen any other way.

But don’t tell anyone! If people find out how productive a quiet campus can be, they’ll start swarming in, and it won’t be quiet anymore.

It’ll just be our secret...

I'm a gen x-er and I just use my phone for the time. Yet one more piece of evidence that in spite of the year of my birth, my generation x and Dean Dad's have little to nothing in common.
I, too, am Gen X. But in pseudo-hipster-wannabe ironic fashion I refer to my timepiece as my "pocketwatch."

Yes, it's my phone.

You do not have the cash-cow second-chance-sweepstakes pre-summer term? We run a 3-week highly intensive session immediately after the spring semester ends (14 days x 3 hours a day) for everyone who needs "just one more class" to graduate.
I have an analogue watch like Dean Dad. One I am from Gen-X, but more importantly I am a lecturer. I can not use my phone during class because I turn it off publically at the start of each one as an example for the students to follow. This is actually written into my syllabi. This semester I have not had a single student answer a cell phone in class.

Frankly, I am very surprised that any person teaching would not have a watch separate from their phone. How do you tell time during class? Do you leave your phone on for the two hours or more of each lecture? What if somebody calls you? Do you not teach in departments with policies about switching off your mobile phone? I have never worked in such a department, but then again I have never worked in the US as a lecturer. Are American students so well behaved regarding mobile phones that you do need such a policy?
To respond to J Otto, my classrooms either have wall clocks or I use the clock on the computer screen. But also, you can turn off your phone (ringer off, notifications of texts off) in front of students, and yet still keep it "on" for the purposes of the clock.
FYI, from you title, I expected you were writing about being between Presidents, not between terms! We rarely have more than a few days between spring and summer. We have some very pleasant dead weeks between the end of the summer classes and the start of fall.

Seriously, Dean Dad. I'm a Baby Boomer and I use my phone in place of a watch, and have always used an analog watch.

How do I tell time? Leaving aside the fact that my body clock knows how long a class period is, all of our rooms have analog clocks and computers with clocks and the all time classic: restless student clocks. Finally, like Dr. Crazy, I just silence my phone.

As for well behaved student phones, well, maybe Dean Dad could write about it from his perspective.
X'er on the edge of boomer, and haven't worn a watch in 15 years. Hard to generalize about such things. But--completely agree about the bliss of "interregnum." Today I'm cleaning my desk! It's the small things that keep me going.
I'm a gen y-er, and when I teach (high school) I keep a clip-on analog watch on my lanyard around my neck with my work keys and work ID. I don't wear a watch or need my work keys/ID when I'm not at work, so it makes sense to keep them all together so there's only one thing for me to remember to take with me rather than 3. I keep my cell phone turned off and locked in a file cabinet along with my purse and anything else I won't need during the day so I don't have to worry about them being stolen.
I wish. At this Research Uni, not only is there the omnipresent grad students, but we've got "intercession" classes to bridge the gap between spring and summer semester (and again in winter)!
Gen Y and wear an analog watch! when will people stop making ridiculous gender generalizations?!

(a) a lot of my professional womens clothing has very small pockets, or non-existant in some skirts. i can usually fit my phone in a pocket but have to dig for it

(b) pulling out my phone to check the time in a meeting is pretty rude. Much easier to glance at my watch. This helped when I was a hard-working student as well, can you believe there's one gen Y person who thought it was rude to pull out their phone in the middle of lecture? there are probably more of us, problem with generalizations...
*generation generalizations

too many g-words, too busy looking at my watch...
Watches are great for making statements including to students. Some wear expensive thin ones, others diving watches. Eli finally found a good Mickey Mouse watch in the United duty free this Spring after years of not being able to.
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