Compared to all the time I spend reviewing ghastly manuscripts and proposals, participating in stupid committees, and all the rest.. my experience with a recent teaching workshop was an amazingly anomalous positive experience with Professional Service. It was disconcerting at first to be working with a group of friendly people who listened to each other and laughed a lot. It was a multi-generational, gender-balanced, geographically disparate group. There was also a nice mix of college and university professors, and this provided a range of experiences to call on for the teaching materials we created.
I was the only one from a big R1 university, but I felt right at home at this workshop. At a previous teaching workshop I attended, I felt isolated because the workshop was 98% professors from small colleges, and many of the topics discussed were irrelevant to the realities of teaching at a large university. This recent workshop, however, was an invitation-only event in which the organizer specifically selected a small group of people with particular expertise. We tackled the problem of how to teach some of the more difficult theoretical and applied aspects of our field. This was something my fellow workshop participants and I had all given a lot of thought to, but each had done so largely independently, and it was fascinating to get together to share ideas and create materials that can be used by others.
I arrived at the workshop very tired from all the traveling I've been doing this month, so it was also great that the trip was very worthwhile. I feel like I've been away from my family too much lately, but fortunately I don't have to go away again for nearly 2 weeks.