Today I was sitting in my office when NewColleague appeared at the door.
NewColleague: Do you mind if I ask you a question?
Jane: Sure, no problem! Come on in.
(secretly, to self: Cool! NewColleague is coming to me for advice! I get to impart my wisdom to the new generation of professors! What an honorable moment this is!)
NewColleague: So, I'm trying to figure out how much work to assign the students each week. Is there a rule of thumb here? How do you go about deciding how much work the students should do outside of class?
Jane: (Damn, damn, damn!) Uhhhhh.........
OK, so my first foray into being the Shining Light of Reason for the New Generation of Profs fell a bit short of expectations there. Why couldn't NC have started off with a softball question? Like "where's the library"? Why did he have to ask the one question for which I don't have a good answer? Because to be honest, I don't know how I figure out how much work to assign the students, exactly. I kind of go on instinct there: here's what I want them to learn, here's something I'd like them to do, here's how long I think it should take, voila: homework assignment. And trial and error, of course (LOTS of trial and error). But even though I think I now have a pretty good handle on judging workload, I don't have a good way of explaining what I do and how I do it.
Which is what I ended up telling NC. And I think he understood. But man, I wish I could have given him a better answer.
In other unrelated news, I am woefully underprepared for my almost-all-day meeting tomorrow, everybody and their Aunt Matilda wants me to read something for various purposes (by yesterday, of course), and I'm in serious denial that my summer is over. All of which is making me super grumpy and basically a royal pain in the ass to live with (just ask Mr. Jane). Ah yes, the start of school brings such joy.....