I think rather than post a lengthy comment in response to the comments yesterday, I will write another post. Actually, I’m going to break it up into two posts.
I’ll work backwards. First the fraud thing–Crazy, I think you’re absolutely right. I felt so good about myself and my work when I was working on my conference paper last May. I felt so good when I was working on the abstract for that paper last January. What I need to do is some serious work and planning over the break, and some serious thinking about what my goals are, what I want to work on and pursue, and how to do it, and how to get the support I need for it. I think one of my big problems (aside from fear) is organization. If I can set aside certain times of the day to work out where nothing else encroaches on that, then I should do the same with my scholarship if it’s that important to me. One of my problems, I know, is laziness with my school work. Sometimes I just don’t want to do it and can’t motivate myself to do it, then things get rushed, then I get stressed, then things fall apart and per SOP, I give up. But you’re right–one article success would go a loooooooooong way in helping my self-confidence as a scholar and help me feel better about my teaching. I have nearly five weeks off starting next Friday–granted I’ll be around family a lot of that time, but five weeks is plenty of time to start hashing this stuff out.
Another thing I’ve got to do is make better use of my office hours and my time on campus. Since my fan is not coming around I have been able to get more done this semester during my office hours, and I have been trying to use them for work. Part of that, too, is so I can come home and veg with The J. And that’s also part of the problem with things getting piled up in terms of work is that I want to veg out and spend time with The J. I think that will be a bit different next semester because he’ll be in school, too! (He got his acceptance letter yesterday). So he’ll have to do homework during which time I can work, too. I’ll be on campus for lots of hours on MW as well (I have an obnoxious four hour break in between two of my classes), so I should be able to get the bulk of my prep and grading done on campus during those days freeing up TR (if I have to go to campus at all on TR, it won’t be until 2:35 for meetings), so in theory I should have a schedule I should be able to exploit.
My plan for grading during finals is to sort of test this out–both in terms of how much work I can get done and to see what it does for my stress. Today I pick up a stack of papers. I’m thinking I should sit in my office for a good hour and just grade them. Not take them home, not look at them over the weekend, but see what I can knock out in an hour. And in the office hour between classes on M, I’m going to use that for the same purpose. I can grade while the students are taking their final on T, and then I think I should sit in my office for an hour and a half afterward and just grade as much as I can. Same thing for Wednesday. Th is the holiday party, so I’ll get to campus an hour or so before and grade what I can before the party and hopefully finish everything up before we leave on Friday. So we’ll see how this works. And I think if I can get in the habit of doing that at school if I’m going to be there, then it will benefit other areas of my life and open up some space rather than actually taking space away. But I always want to leave as soon as possible, but that means taking some much more home with me. Why not just leave it where it belongs–at school. Grading at home should be for finishing up what I couldn’t do at work, not starting it at home. I’ll report as the grading progresses over finals week.
Despite all of these feeling of fraud, I am looking forward to trying to better my teaching and try different approaches in the spring for all three of my classes. Thanks EE for thinking that it’s wonderful that I want to keep improving. It’s good to hear that because I think my attitude often suggests that I a) hate my job, b) hate teaching, c) generally dislike my students and the institution I’m at, but really that’s not the case at all. (and not that I thought you were suggesting that at all EE–these are comments made by others and others not at my institution or on the blogosphere). But I can see where people might think that. It’s not that I hate what I do–I hate that I’m not better at it, nay even that I’m not the BEST at it (because you know I’m not competitive at all!). But then that’s part of the larger problem isn’t it? That I want to be the bestest and most perfectest at everything!
I think the thing I need to do for both the writing classes is to thematitize (sp?) and find a way to make as many of the readings overlap (two preps–not two sections of the same class) as I can. That will help in terms of how much reading I need to do for the two classes. But I think for the two classes, having the whole thing center around a "theme" or a central question (I used to do this at GCU; I don’t know why I don’t do it here) helps them in terms of synthesizing info and ideas. I guess that’s the goal for that. The lit class I’ve got to prep lots for because I changed all the texts from last spring and am doing a couple of things I haven’t read in years or at all (why do I do this to myself?? To keep it exciting and interesting for me!), so yeah, there’s that.
I’m glad this semester is almost over though. I’m going to miss some of my students. I wish I were seeing more of them next semester, but there are a handful I’m glad that I’m not (I know that’s mean, but it’s true). But I’m excited about next semester already as well. A new semester means new possibilities and new chances to figure stuff out and new chances to change things and get things on track. NOw that I feel hopeful just about thinking about a plan for things, things seem possible again on the academic front.