A new start

This week is the first week of the summer semester. This is always a rough week for everyone with a teaching load, as they have to get all aspects of teaching going in the department. Or maybe it’s just rough for me.

I’m one of the lucky ones that besides doing research, also has a teaching quote to meet. (Literally everything in academia is about one metric or another.)

I always struggle a bit, and get quite nervous for the first lectures of the semester. I always ease into it eventually, but that relaxed feeling leaves me after the lecture break.

This summer I teach my summer ecological landscape planning course, in which we try to get students to implement some ecological principles and natural history into landscape planning, a field that traditionally lacks those aspects. The idea is that we educate the new generation of planners that will and do take nature into account – at least a little bit. I’ll mostly take the 50 or so students, and myself, out into the field. Let’s see what interesting stuff we can find and discuss in the fresh air. I’ll also probably supervise eight out of the fourteen groups, which will keep me busy Tuesdays and Fridays.

Besides this, I usually offer some research projects, and it’s usually safe to go all out in the things I offer, because students never choose mine for whatever reason. Perhaps plant-insect experiments are not high on the list of people that study here. This year, I offered three themes (soil legacy effects, plant chemodiversity, and artificial light at night). This year is apparently a different type of year, and I will now probably have at least one project group for each, which should be fun. Busy, too. I guess I did that to myself.

This morning was a weird event for me. I had my first in-presence introduction in a lecture room. (My teaching days have been online only thus far because of the pandemic.) I thought I would be very bnervous, but instead I just rambled some bad German and felt quite reasonable about it. Not sure what happened there.

Even though all went fine so far this week, I am looking forward to mid next week, when I will hopefully have managed to get all research projects up and running.

At least one thing is certain: I will pass my teaching quote easily this semester.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

6 thoughts on “A new start

    1. Thanks 🙏. I must admit that teaching for me is only something I must do in order to secure a position so I can do my research. Nevertheless, I do like teaching and supervision quite a bit. I wonder if my students consider my role admirable though, haha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure they do. To be honest, I still keep in touch with some of my elementary school teachers, and a couple of my professors!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hmm. I may be the odd one out here. My teachers up until high school were horrible. University was better, although I’m no longer in touch with any of them.


    1. I’ve had several inspirational mentors, but most not of the classroom kind. Sometimes those mentors taught me through classrooms and did well, but it is the mentoring that almost always stuck with me. I’ve also had mentors that absolutely tried to make me feel miserable… I have some older posts with stories about that, and the worst are probably still waiting to be told.


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