The new semester is underway, and I’ve got a crop of 16 students. They’re all new to me save two, which is a nice change, and after our fourth class I’m relatively happy with them so far. I’m teaching a slight variation on last semester’s syllabus, having tweaked the timing, assignments, and deliverables a bit based on what I learned in the last class. These students are all graduating in the spring, so I’ll be one of their last waypoints before they reach the outside world. It feels good to be teaching again, and I’ve added a couple of workshop/discussions to the schedule that should help them beyond the assignments we’re covering.
We have some friends who own a digital printing shop in Columbia, and over the break I went down to tour the shop and talk to them about taking on student work. It’s not the most glamorous work, and is realistically a money-loser for them in the short term, but the students have all been limited by what their campus print shop can and cannot do. My aim is to widen their horizons so that they realize there’s more than one place to produce their work. I’m also developing a workshop around the art of ordering a print job, so that they know what to ask for, what the language means, and what questions the print shop will ask them when they call.
Strangely, it sounds like I might not be teaching next semester due to scheduling issues at the school. I don’t know if they’re going to sort things out or not (I have been told on the sly that they will) but my hope is that they do.
I took a pair of Anker bluetooth headphones with me to Paraguay, and I really like them. They are actually wired together but don’t tether to my phone itself, which makes commuting easy–I constantly spend time untangling headphone cables around my messenger bag, so having something that’s up and out of the way while I’m transferring from car to train to office is wonderful. They are also the first noise-canceling headphones that actually stay in my ears during normal usage. I put them in on the plane ride and shut out the entire cabin around me; the only thing I had to worry about was clearing the air pressure in my ears.
After two months of searching, we hired a production manager at work to help keep my team on track and relieve some of the management pressure from me and my senior designer. She’s a transplant from Southern California who worked in the magazine industry for three years, so she brings a wealth of good experience to our team. We’re sorting out the logistics of equipment and seating this week, and she’s been invited to about 100 meetings over the next three weeks to talk with our internal clients and begin to understand how the organization works.
I was never trained as a manager, so this experience is a new one for me. My style to this point has been very laid back, mirroring my personality, but I’m seeing that I’ve got to step up more and become more proactive about a lot of things. Having come from a tense environment of micromanagement, I never wanted to do that to anyone else. What I have to do now is find a happy medium between being more assertive with my team and our clients and not being a domineering tyrant.
The second contractor I had come in for the bathroom ghosted me. I’ve left him two messages but haven’t heard anything back since he came to look things over. Meanwhile I’ve got the estimate the first guy sent us to review, to see where I can cut some costs. Maybe with some tough negotiation we can bring the price down to a reasonable amount. I do know he quoted on 7 very expensive windows when we’re going to reduce the number to 5, and we don’t need top of the line models, which will save thousands. There may also be some prep work I can do to cut costs as well–when the porch was enclosed, the builders put in a thick wall below the windows and a thinner wall above the sills, making a waist-high shelf around the room. I want to shim out the walls to a consistent depth all the way around for ease of finishing and added insulation value, which I can probably handle myself.