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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

An attack of the "shoulds," combined with a serious case of the stupids

This is a recipe for potential disaster (day three of the semester, mind you). Both Paul and I are aware that our brains are approximately like oatmeal and that very little is penetrating--or making its way back through the synapses as intelligent output. I did OK when I had to be "on"--advising students, meeting with my 102 classes--but getting ready for the first student in Advisement, I had to keep saying, "Wait one minute, I need to get X" or "I need to ask Y" or "I need to figure out where Q is." There is also a new automated system for logging students, part of the move to the big, new, snazzy Student Services Center. It actually wasn't terribly difficult to learn--or at least the parts of it that I was introduced to were easy enough--but it was one more thing to process.

The "shoulds" have to do with the "Statement of Self-Defined Goal" write-ups that I got from the SF students. I feel I "should" take a whack at getting them marked tonight; I started on them, but I've barely gotten to the C's in the alphabetical order of the class. I'm collecting more homework tomorrow, so I'll have a big stack of stuff to mark on Monday--or I'll be behind the curve for the whole damned semester. Fortunately, by Monday the drop/add period will have ended, so Advisement should be very quiet (god, I hope), and I'll have that nice chunk of time to crank through stuff. I'd usually have a big chunk of time tomorrow before class, and Tuesday before class, but both days, I'm helping run workshops for the new wrinkle to the seminar hours process, that allows us to register and work with our own students.

But that's why I am not making myself grind through more marking. One, I'm already pretty tired out (I've been having a hard time sleeping for over a week now), and B, I have to get up a little earlier than usual to be here before that workshop starts at 10.

Speaking of the workshops, I just looked through the procedure we're going to show faculty tomorrow--and I realized that the workshops are really not necessary at all for a good 80 percent of the department. I read through a little handout of instructions, and it was absolutely simple: crystal clear. I know that some people will need a refresher on the basics of logging appointments, as well as an introduction to the new process, but I'd venture that the majority of us would do just fine on our own. I'm more than a bit annoyed that such a big whoopie was made about the necessity of the workshops, but ah well. I'm the good girl, and I'll help out, as I said I would. But if we'd seen the instructions before our seminar hours committee meeting last week, I'd have really questioned whether we needed to subject everyone to them.

Shifting gears.

I met with both 102s, and all signs are OK so far: I don't have any radiant glow of anticipating a magnificent, transcendent experience with either one, but nor do I have a sense of dread and impending doom. I did, however, give them some of the stock speeches I used to do at the start of each semester and haven't done for a while: "the class will be challenging: it's a lot of work, and I have high standards"; "the single characteristic most important for success in academics and in life is the ability to work through frustration"; and the perennial favorite, "college will change you." Some of them were soaking it in; some of them were tuning it out. I'm really hoping some of them withdraw--like, today. Tomorrow. Soon. I haven't tried to scare students out of the SF class--apart from giving a writing assignment for the second day of class--but I sure hope they start disappearing. There are several upsides to full classes: good chances for class chemistry to start cooking, a confident expectation that there will be a critical mass of working brains in the room--and, if I'm truly honest, a reasonable chance that the chemistry and critical mass won't be profoundly damaged by attrition. The downside is obvious: more for me to mark. Well, also more names and faces to try to put together in my mind (especially now that I've stopped doing the ice-breaker thing--I'm not sure why I've stopped, but I think it's because I've begun to feel the pay off isn't worth the time invested). But really, it's about the time spent marking stuff.

I know. I know. If I didn't assign it, I wouldn't have to mark it. If I didn't mark so obsessively, it wouldn't take so long. I complain about stress that I create for myself. I know. This is me. I have to just accept that this is me.

And right now, I'm going to accept that--in a few minutes--this will be me walking out the door. I want to get home while I still have enough brain to practice the violin (well, sort of), and in time to do my evening wind-down and get into bed early. It's getting harder for me to push my body into the discomfort zone as I get older: it's starting to tell me, "No, we're sleeping now, whether you're 'ready' or not." Fair enough; it's good for me to listen to my cellular wisdom--and that wisdom is telling me to get the hell out of here.

I'll post tomorrow, if I have time before rushing off to practice and then hop the train to the City for tango--or if I decide to bail on tango and don't have to rush anywhere...

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