Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Sometimes closing the door and turning off the lights are the only professors can get any marking done. (Chad Hipolito for The Globe and Mail)
Sometimes closing the door and turning off the lights are the only professors can get any marking done. (Chad Hipolito for The Globe and Mail)

Life as a .... professor

What does a professor's day look like? A lot of satisficing Add to ...

This week, we are comparing how students and educators in high-school and postsecondary spend their days. Today: Life as a professor

5:45 a.m. I know that my alarm is about to go off. I don’t want it to do so. I’m supposed to go to Boot Camp 7-8, but have a Senate sub-committee meeting to attend by 9. I can’t do Boot Camp, get kids to school, shower, and get to the meeting. No Boot Camp for today.

More Related to this Story

6 a.m. Alarm goes off and I roll out of bed and do yoga for about five minutes and try to not think about my day. Outlook wouldn’t give me a preview beyond: Your schedule is busy. Thank you Outlook, I knew this.

6:30 a.m. Read papers and had coffee and enjoyed this quiet time with my husband, as he also caught up on the news.

7 a.m. Showered and had breakfast. Cats meowed and I restrained myself from feeding them. Reminded kids to feed cats. I checked in on Twitter, FB, and responded to many e-mails. Students send so many e-mails between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.!

8 a.m. Took one daughter to school and then the other. Was thrilled that we left house five minutes early!

8:45 a.m. First person in the room for meeting. Yeah! I graded first year mid-terms for almost 15 minutes.

9 - 10:15 a.m. I sit on Senate and the Senate’s Learning and Teaching Committee. It’s great to be involved in campus governance in order to see how things work. Our major project for the year is the Learning and Teaching Mission statement. Apparently lots of other universities have one. During the last year we have consulted with Chairs and Directors, Deans, and students. Wow – everyone is contradicting the other “stakeholders.” This is an exercise in patience and is causing us to reflect about process. A major coup at the meeting, we decided that the documents need to include more about students’ responsibility for their learning.

10:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m. Poli 103: Worlds of Politics with approximately 170 students. This is our team-taught course and I get to sit at the back and count how many people are on Facebook. In all seriousness, today is my day to make some announcements and sit back and take notes as needed. I gave the exam on Tuesday and realize that I need to prep for my Friday lecture. When class ended, had to approach two students about their use of the network. (This means not watching You Tube videos throughout the course).

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Catch up on e-mails. Eat lunch and review presentation for next class. Door knocks. Student pops by and we agree about a different meeting time. Have a quick chat with two different TAs separately in my office about grading the exams. Runs to class...

12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. Get to Poli 328: Gender and International Relations on time and remember that two senior colleagues are here for my Peer Teaching Review. Perfect. Hope that my class has done the reading and impresses my colleagues with their astute comments. Hoping that I don’t have carrot in my teeth. And, wonder if my use of a reading about Quinceaneras (coming of age 15th birthday party celebration) is not too close to home for my colleagues...can’t change my lecture.

1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Office hours. Meet with several students to discuss paper topics, graded items, and help some students with other matters related to time management and stress. It is Week 6 and some have figured out that maybe it is a good time (finally) to begin thinking about their papers.

2:45 p.m. Drive the speed limit or under to get youngest daughter from school and then get her big sister. I was late, but so were a few other parents, so she was not the last kid at school. Mama Guilt

3 p.m. Go back to the university with youngest to grade papers while she works on homework. This is fun, right? I coaxed her with the idea that we would also run Ring Road. Well, I will run and she’ll be on her bike. The exercise didn’t happen. I was interrupted on numerous occasions by a student with a, “This will only take a minute.” I needed to not answer my door and just mark, and turn my light off.

5 p.m. Youngest daughter helps me make dinner. This is fun as she has never used the skillet to brown ground turkey. We wear aprons and listen to Taylor Swift. Meanwhile, I see that pile of exams on the table – they are my dessert. I promise myself that I will stay off of Twitter during this window. And, I do. I use my phone as a timer and flashlight during our run. We had a great run. She made me do high knees, sprints, and burpies. I think I impressed her. “You can do burpies?”

6:30 p.m. We ate dinner and made her practise her spelling again. Then, I began grading first year papers. Check in to social media after I grade three exams – I have to be rewarded for marking at night, right? This continues for approximately two hours and I’m ready for a glass of wine. I stop marking. Husband gets me the glass of wine before we watch TV.

9 p.m. It is time to watch some TV and enjoy the glass of wine. I think I have Olberman taped, if not, there is something else on the PVR. What happened to Olberman?! We end up watching The Blacklist. Hey, it’s related to International Relations! We also watch sports highlights and talk about Thursday.

11:00 p.m. After reading about different types of zombies, I begin to think about my next day. Thankful that Thursday is only a busy meeting day. Again, Outlook warns me that I’m busy.

Janni Aragon is an Assistant Teaching Professor in Political Science at the University of Victoria.

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories