Milestone: Turning in my reappointment file after 5 semesters at Hamilton.

One of my friends called the process “self-irritation inducing.”

And now we wait…

I’ve been officially reappointed! Corollary: I get to go (officially!) on sabbatical for the next academic year.

Writing up results is the worst part of math (in my opinion). It’s where you run into snags like, oh, hey, that case doesn’t work, or worse. No different for us. I’m less worried than my REU students because I think there’s a good chance the “problem” is not a math problem but instead an issue with how we formalized something.

I left two weeks for writing, anticipating these hiccups, but it still seems too short.

Irena Swanson, of Reed College, is visiting us today. She’ll give a lecture on free resolutions. I’m excited! Irena is much more than a kickass mathematician. She’s also an ideal role model for anyone who hopes to be good at all parts of the profession. She has a robust research career while also being an excellent teacher at an elite liberal arts school. She’s done a ton for the mathematical community, especially commutative algebra. She’s advised more undergraduates that I can count on my hands and feet (along with a handful of Masters and Ph.D. students).

Having the chance to talk to Irena about their research will be an excellent opportunity for my group. And learning about free resolutions and Groebner bases will be super for the other REU participants.

Well. Phew. The first year is over!

I have so much to reflect on, but instead, here’s some new stuff on the horizon:

Next year, I’ll be on the Honor Court. First real committee work, and I hope that it will let me see some of the best students at Hamilton upholding the (student-driven) ideals of the college.

I’ll teach Modern Algebra for the first time, and I’m unspeakably excited.

This summer, I’ll teach a session of the All Girls All Math camp in Lincoln, Nebraska. I can’t wait!

You know, in my first semester of graduate school, I celebrated the end of every week. “I made it one more week!” was the refrain for all the new grad students.

My first semester as faculty? By the end of every week I was too tired to even form a coherent sentence. Maybe it’s because there isn’t exactly a whole class of newbie professors who see each other everyday, or maybe it’s because there’s always a full weekend’s worth of work to do, but I just didn’t work up the energy for celebrating on Fridays. But now that the end of the semester is almost here, I am starting to feel like it’s time to congratulate myself for making it through without any seriously huge screw-ups. (For those keeping score at home, there were at least 4 moderate screw-ups.)

One of the things that’s surprised me the most about this semester is that I have a pretty good idea of who my students are as *people*. In grad school, my students didn’t come to office hours, and they didn’t make a special effort to get to know me or let me get to know them. It’s the opposite story here. I see my students a lot. They participate in class. They’re funny and clever and quirky and curious and invested. The biggest surprise, to me, is that I have the emotional wherewithal to really care about 60 students. This was not something I was expecting to learn about myself! I was expecting to learn things like, “I’m not good at coming up with examples on the fly,” or, “I can draw a pretty convincing circle.”

The last week will be sad. Although some of my Calc 1 students will take Calc 2 with me, I won’t see my Linear Algebra students next semester. There are some who might never take another class with me! I’ll miss these people that I’ve come to know.