DOMs away

75% of the way through an Essentials course in JS, and I can’t wrap my head around the DOM. I get the concept, but the logistics of actually manipulating it are eluding me.

Yes, I realise there are simple syntax solutions to most problems. Variables, functions, arrays, etc, have well and truly sunken in, but the DOM is a wall in which I can’t seem to find a doorway.

Bah.

Entering the matrix

I’ve found myself frustrated in the last twelve months or so with a few mundane computer tasks that I have to undertake regularly, both for life admin and for work. Things like sorting out variable savings budgets, typing the same sentences over and over again in emails and other correspondence… I have also found myself wanting to play with websites in interesting ways, and am looking forward perhaps to looking at some of the intersections between cinema and code for research. All this — along with an institutional subscription to Lynda — has led me to undertake something of a crash course in programming. My initial efforts are the usual (Hello world, guess my number etc), but it’s enlightening to see how much work goes into the simplest of applications.

Stay tuned…

Progress

For those that were concerned, it got better.

A few weeks ago, I asked a colleague how everything was going. He replied, ‘I have too many balls in the air.’

I decided to take it one ball at a time. One ball per day, in fact.

You can realistically only tick one big thing off per day. Anything more, and you’ll drive yourself insane.

Getting to this point was tough going, but it feels good to be here.

What a difference…

Sometimes the gurus get it wrong… it may not be best to ‘mark’ down when you feel like your life is on a trajectory. Since the last blog, the contentedness I felt at managing things vanished.

In its place was left a gaping hole of uncertainty. Doubt. Fear. And most keenly felt of all: a crippling lack of productivity.

Bottom line? I think it’s important to acknowledge what things work and when; it’s also just as important to note when the train has derailed.

Deep breaths. Multiple cups of tea. The train is back on the rails; now carefully re-stoking the boiler.

Priorities

I am lucky to have a job that I love. But in the eighteen months of settling into full-time academia, I seem to have lost sight of the ‘love’ and become fixated on the ‘job’. A weird thing has happened in recent weeks, in that I’ve tried to become more focused on what is actually important about my work — and what feels the most rewarding.

There are two main strands to the workload of an academic at my level: teaching and research. Research covers the writing and publication of scholarly work — be it journal articles, book chapters, conference presentations, monographs. Teaching is what it says on the tin.

In 2011, mid-PhD, I took my first class at Western Sydney University (then UWS). It was a boring compulsory course, but I caught the bug, and have loved teaching ever since. With the transition to full-time employment, I’ve always tried to have time for my students, time to sink into my pedagogy, but that time has always felt sapped by other commitments. I say felt, because I’ve realised that the sapping of time has only occurred because I’ve let it.

This semester, I’ve turned a corner. The most important commitments I have, during semester time, are my students. Everything else is secondary. To be clear, I don’t think the time I spend on teaching or research will change this semester (I have a book chapter to finish, a presentation to write, and a monograph to approve all by September). Rather what has changed is where my head is at most of the time: ensuring my students are, if not blissfully happy, then at least reasonably clear about what I’m trying to teach them, and the experience I would — ideally — like them to have.

Pomodoro ramblings

In my first classes this week, I introduced first-year students to the Pomodoro technique. I’ve had a mixed relationship with the technique, but sometimes find it useful in terms of getting my head fully into a project during its opening stages. In solidarity, I too typed non-stop for 15 minutes (a reduced pomodoro — usually they run for 25). The results were… well, they were a glimpse into the chaos of my brain. I’ve edited them slightly (ditched typos and some of the more bizarre tangents), added links and some editorial notes, and re-posted here. The unit is a foundational media subject, and is a blend of theory and practice.


 

Prompt: What would you like to get out of the class?

I would like to hone my pedagogy — in particular getting students engaged during workshop and lecture time. I am actively working to fill the lecture time not only with content, clips, and relevant examples, but also with activities that break the monotonous delivery.

I have already run out of ideas but I’m going to keep typing because this is what the Pomodoro technique is all about. Look if I’m honest I think the introduction of the Pomodoro technique into the classroom situation is an interesting thing for me and the students. It gets them thinking about writing as a practice and as a discipline, not this far-off thing that’s unobtainable and difficult. The Pomodoro technique is all about quantity rather than quality — which explains quite a bit about this piece I’m writing at the moment. Continue reading “Pomodoro ramblings”