Semester start up checklist

If only. (Image Creative Commons licensed, Flickr user 37333113@N03/)

If only. (Image Creative Commons licensed, Flickr user 37333113@N03/)

I want to formalize a start up checklist that I will aim to use at the start of each semester. My goal is to reduce the amount of time I spend wondering what to do next, to make clear to myself what depends upon others (frankly, so I can bug them to make things happen!), and to make my semester start up more efficient by understanding what tasks I can batch together. (Right now, for example, I am running some code on a cluster and waiting for a revised dataset to come my way, so writing this blog post and thinking about my checklist is a good use of my time.)

As a physics professor at a small teaching-focused institution, with no lab staff in our department (yet - we have a job opening for this!), I find that I have to take on some tasks that are not usually done by faculty at larger institutions. For a long time I have felt like much of what is published online about being a professor ignores this level of work needed for being a physics professor - so I'm sharing here in case my list helps others and so others can chime in with suggestions.

Here's my list so far.  These are not related to actual teaching (revising the syllabus to address a learning objective update, for example) but are just mundane tasks that need to get done. I'm continuing to think this list over and then will organize by dependencies and ideal groupings.

  • add TAs to Schoology
  • sign up for ECLASS administration
  • locate and print CCMI and schedule in syllabus
  • look at Wheaton calendar to get key dates, including final exam times
  • look at travel calendar to get key dates
  • ask for subs as necessary
  • determine office hours
  • set up Calendly for office hour sign up
  • decide on intro lab schedule
  • set up weekly meetings with course TAs
  • schedule BEMA administrations
  • put Mastering Physics info into syllabus for intro
  • set up calendars in syllabi
  • copy TA forms and put in drawer
  • test A/V and clickers
  • clear clutter from A/V systems
  • put textbooks on reserve
  • ask for homework slot if necessary
  • Put together a binder for the semester's courses
  • check materials for PHYS335 (our pseudo-advanced lab course)
  • check first few weeks' materials for intro lab
  • post syllabi to Schoology after approval by chair
  • ID any new equipment that might contribute to new demos for class
  • Make a list of demos to try out

This is a list for spring semester. It will change a bit depending upon what is taught and what semester it is; for example, most fall semester I teach Matlab class and that has different set up needs, like making sure our IT department deploys the latest release of Matlab and we set up the start up and closing files to do some things, but I won't teach it again until Fall 2019 at this point.

Friends, have you written out a semester start up checklist? What is on yours?