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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I have no time!

Adjusting to the bumpy rhythm of this semester is proving quite the challenge. I have no idea when I'm going to look at promotion applications: the time between classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays seems to get eaten up with other stuff, which leaves Mondays and Wednesdays after my stints in Advisement--by which point my mental acumen approaches that of overcooked oatmeal. I know I have to just gut it out and get it done--we have a round of promotion applications that must be read, and read carefully, as this is ostensibly the "final" version (though we know small changes can/will still be made). I still haven't adequately dealt with those handouts I was bitching about yesterday (and some really must be copied by next week, as students' first essays are coming up very rapidly, heaven help me). I'm sure there is other committee or class work lurking on my desk that will suddenly reveal itself to be ages overdue (the way I found a bill from November sitting in the stack of papers beside my computer at home: clearly I'd put it there thinking "I'll pay this just as soon as I..." and then got caught up in that other thing--whatever it was--put something on top of the bill, and buh-bye: gone, no longer in my universe, until I was digging through the stack of papers for something else).

Once upon a time I was able to get home and exercise for 40 minutes before dinner (and wasn't having dinner at midnight). Once upon a time, I might drop the occasional pearl--but now I'm losing entire strands all at once. I used to have all my photocopies done in advance.

OK, OK, yes: I also used to be younger and had different priorities. But still, it bugs me to feel so constantly, chronically, behind the curve.

Of course I do recognize that I'm probably not nearly as far behind or as disorganized and out of control as I feel--but how I feel, my perception is all that matters. And lately, I feel I'm not going a very good job of my job.

Not that the situation on campus makes it any easier to feel like everything is Hunk and Dora (a quotation, I believe, from Krazy Kat, though I could be mistaken). On three occasions in P&B I said, "Can I just retire now?" Nothing out of the ordinary was even going on; I just have very little patience for more of the same.

I recognize that my woes are, as one of my colleagues put it today, the woes of privilege. I remind myself--perhaps less often than would benefit me--that I am spectacularly blessed to get paid well to do something I care about deeply and where I have a great deal of autonomy. Nothing forces me to assign the kind of work I do, nor to give as much of myself as I do. (I do have to attend my contractually required two professional development events per year--and I may not have done that in this latest two year cycle, or I may lack the requisite documentation for having done so--and there are other contractual requirements, but no one is standing over me watching me sort widgets, or taking me to task for not punching the time-clock appropriately. And I don't have to clean up anyone else's mess, the part of my previous jobs I hated the most: being responsible for things over which I had no authority--deadlines being met, boxes correctly ticked.) I worked damned hard to get where I am, and I am very good at what I do (even when I feel like I'm not doing as well as I "should"), and I am in tall cotton.

So, all the bitching and whining I do here comes with a caveat: I truly am utterly grateful. But I reserve the right to complain.

So, what's the reframe for today? I like the way I ran both sections of 102. It was a very "chalk and talk" day, which isn't my favorite thing at all, but no one fell asleep. Well, someone came close, but then I stopped and made everyone do a little ridiculous "wave your hands and waggle your head" thing to wake everyone up (and I kept doing it, saying, "We're going to do this until everyone does it.... Nope, three people didn't join in, so let's do it again..."). It worked, partly because the moving did wake people up but also because it was ridiculous, which caught their attention as it was flagging. In any event, I did all I could to make use of their homework and to set them up for their first reading of literature (handing them the fact that the narrator of "Town Smokes" A) is not the author, Pinkney Benedict, and B) is a young man--since sometimes students assume that the narrator is a girl, long after the evidence would indicate otherwise). And now we see what happens. The later section of students still were confused about the difference between Handbook Review (which--my bad--I incorrectly worded in the syllabus, in two places, as "Response to Handbook," which really clouded the issue) and Reading Notes--but I had them get out the "Reading Notes" assignment, pointed them to the example, and saw the "Oh! Now I get it!" light bulbs going on around the room. I asked one student if she was still confused, and she said, "No, now that I see it in the handout..." and I said--cheerfully--"Oh! Read the handout! What a concept." I also reminded them that they need to use their campus e-mail to contact me and gave the example of an e-mail I got today from "Bob." I saw the e-mail, and actually did see that it was from one of my students (whose name, incidentally, is not Bob)--but I told them that I only saw that it was from "Bob," whom I don't know, and from an AOL account or something, so it went directly into my junk mail folder (that last bit is true).

We have to tell them what we're going to teach, teach it, then tell them what we taught. Over and over. But that's OK. They learn. That's what matters: they learn.

And that's the note I'll leave things on for tonight: learning happens. It's really pretty awesome.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for your ending tonight; it furnishes me with a new lens through which to assess my achievement (or lack of same) with students.

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