Friday, August 21, 2015

Back to School!

The beginning of the fall semester is always a time of anticipation, new beginnings, and general excitement on a college campus.  New freshman arrived last week, and the rest of the undergraduates are arriving now.  Courses start on Monday.  Parking lots are filling up.  The rec center and gym are packed.  The copier is running nearly non-stop with syllabi and handouts, and faculty are murmuring about getting ready for their classes.  Local businesses are offering "back to school" promotions on everything from binders to beer.  There is a predictable energy to it all, and it is one of my favorite times of the year.

I am starting my fourth year at Texas Tech... I have been here long enough to not be considered "new" anymore, but I am still learning the ropes and figuring out my role in the Department, University, and profession.  This is the midpoint on my track to tenure, and as such, I am being reviewed by the department to evaluate my progress and offer helpful suggestions..  In preparation for this review, I have taken some time to reflect on my accomplishments and goals.  Below, I share a few things of which I am particularly proud and some items that I want to improve over the next few years.

A quick disclaimer-- This list is in no way exhaustive and does not reflect official conversations or advice from my committee or department chair.  The statements listed below are personal and not endorsed by TTU.

"Yay! List"

1-- I feel like I have found my voice in the classroom.  Undergraduate teaching has become a part of my career that I highly value and that brings me great joy.  I am impressed with the quality of undergraduate students at Texas Tech, their enthusiasm and motivation, and their genuine desire to learn.

2-- I have found a role in the Texas fire community.  My students and I have assisted on almost 10,000 acres of fire since 2012, and we are establishing ourselves as a useful and reliable resource for prescribed fire in the Texas Panhandle region.

3--  I am starting to see the fruits of my labor.  Students that have I have mentored are graduating and getting jobs, using the skills I taught them, and making an impact in their professional fields.  This is the best!!

"Try Harder! List"

1-- I want to be a more active participant in my professional societies.  This means getting involved in organizing, serving on committees, and getting to know the people who are leading the charge.

2-- I want to find ways to grow the TTU undergraduate fire program, provide fire internship opportunities, and get students more hands-on skills and experience.

3-- I want to develop and foster a (possibly student-led.. I'm looking at you TTU SAFE students!) fire outreach program for local schools and communities.

Happy Back-to-School everyone!

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