It’s the first day of the semester at West Chester, and not a creature is stirring outside of the house (well, at least not this creature). Why not? Because the entire Philadelphia region is facing another punishing round of snow and cold, and the university is closed. I’ve been told by several people that the amount of snow we’ve experienced in the past few months is atypical for Philly winters, but I’m skeptical. I find myself wondering sometimes if the search committee said “oh, winter’s not that bad, just blustery!” to lure the southern candidate to the Lands of Always Winter.
I joke, but the somewhat unexpected amounts of snow have taught me a few things already. After last semester, I’ve already learned to build multiple “TBD” days into my class schedules. It’s probably unsurprising that I’m about as type A as it gets, and I like to schedule the hell out of my classes. The unpredictable weather is forcing me to allow for a little more flexibility and spontaneity in my class calendar. That’s good practice, as I’m trying to be more responsive and flexible with students’ needs in the classroom. I’d like to think that I already have these two characteristics, but I also recognize that I can improve. I get a little twitchy sometimes when we go on tangents in class discussions. These tangents are often products of students making connections between our topics and related issues in their lives or in other classrooms, but I’m still struggling to balance these often-productive tangents with where we need to be according to the class schedule. I suspect building in these snow days, even if I don’t wind up needing them all, will help me balance tangents and class needs as the semester progresses.
The weather’s also teaching me to be a little more proactive regarding my writing schedule. Last semester, I did set up a weekly writing group (hi, everyone!), which was extremely helpful for getting some more informal writing tasks done. Aside from that writing group, though, it was very difficult to set aside a regular time to write as a first-semester faculty member with a 4-4 load. Today was supposed to be the first meeting of the semester, but we are snowed in (out?). Last semester, I would have used the canceled meeting as an excuse to avoid writing and to work on something for classes. Not this semester. Today, I’m writing this blog post from my couch while watching the snow blow around outside. After all, snow days mean I’m likely to be a bit behind on classes, which means I need to take advantage of writing whenever I have the opportunity. Stay on writing schedule! Plus, writing is starting to feel like a luxury. I want to fit it in whenever I have the chance.
Any tips from those of you who are more adept at dealing with winter? How do I survive walking across campus in subzero wind chill?