I guess while my last couple of posts were filled with my “goals” and early New Year’s “resolutions,” I was really cranky, angry, and whiney about them. I could be, in part, some PMS that I’m rockin’ right now. Like I cried the other night during the Muppet Christmas Carol when the Ghost of Xmas Future showed the future with a dead frog version of Tiny Tim. Usually that part of the story doesn’t make me cry, but shit, I bawled like a fucking baby! Oy.
Anyway, most of this is really just out of frustration. I’m frustrated with myself, my lack of motivation, my weight, this marathon I’m supposed to be running in March which is slowly closing in. I’m trying to maintain some kind of positivity though because I love the holiday season. But that’s another post. But I’ll say this, I’m like Clark Grisowld when it comes to Christmas. But again, another time. While I am now totally and completely stressed about money for the remainder of the month, I’m trying not to let that or PMS affect the health and academic goals, although I did veg out to an NCIS marathon for a large part of the afternoon and evening and slept like crap last night, too, so I’m exhausted this morning. But I have a hair appointment at a new place today which will hopefully include some kind of head and neck massage which I so desperately need right now as my neck and shoulders still hurt. I think it’s stress of some kind.
I have to keep reminding myself that I accomplished a lot last quarter. I had what looks like, at least right now, a successful first quarter here at Big Little Town U. The pacing was horrible, and I’ve made lots of changes to the way I’m teaching the class this quarter that I think will make my life easier. I’ve made sure, since we have a ton of breaks, not to schedule anything due before break because I don’t want to grade, or rush to grade either right before break starts or right before it ends and have it hanging over me. I’m going to relax over the breaks. And during this time (including Thanksgiving break), I managed to revise/edit a medium sized book chapter and research and write a small 10 page article. I think that’s a lot for teaching 3 classes in a quarter M-F with no Fall Quarter break anywhere in there. I don’t know, maybe it’s not a lot, but it is certainly more than I ever accomplished during a summer at Fancy Town U. The most I ever got done there was a conference abstract during break and a poorly written conference paper in the three weeks before the conference.
Over winter break I’d like to immerse myself in “fun” reading albeit related to my next projects, and start tinkering at my own pace and in my pajamas. I will not think about my students.
That being said, I think the start of the quarter went really well yesterday. It’s a funny thing here for me, still, though to think about it. At Fancy Town U, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I would set a very serious, work oriented tone for the start of the class. The readings were longer at the beginning of the semester (rather than building up to longer readings). I hammered them at the beginning and didn’t really “let my hair down” until after midterm. At Fancy Town U though, they needed that in order for them to take the class seriously.
Here, the majority of the students already take the class seriously because many of them need to in order to maintain their scholarships or state aid. And many of them are only able to attend a school like BLT-U (despite how inexpensive it is for the quality of its programs) because fo the state aid, so the hard work, thus far, about taking the class seriously is done for me. I think I set the appropriate tone for the classes yesterday. I think here, student introductions work (they did not work for me at Fancy Town U–they worked for others, but for some reason, my classes didn’t seem to care). Yesterday the 200 level class students were looking for common ground with each other through the books they liked, music they listened to, and movies they liked. And I think my enthusiasm for the stuff I teach, for teaching, for what I do, really works for me here rather than against me like I felt it did at Fancy Town. At FT-U, it was an excuse for the students not to put effort into the class. I got read as a flake. Here, given my experience last quarter, the attitude of the students seems to be, “okay, it’s possible to take this seriously and have it not suck!” For whatever reason, here I’m better at selling even the required classes that are not filled with majors. Maybe it’s because in those classes I let them know that I don’t expect them, as non-majors, to love this stuff as much as I do, that I don’t expect them to get excited about every thing that they read, but that I do expect them to try and give it a chance. And that I expect them to come to class prepared, and in doing so, class will suck less. And I think they bought it.
Plus I told them that I was the most interesting and funniest person that I know, and that by the end of the quarter they will see that I am right because I’m always right. And I told them that I liked heavy metal , threw up “rock hands” and yelled “Judas Priest” winning over about 90% of the dudes in the class. Since I have embraced my ego, what I have found is that for whatever reason (and probably because I’m a female), if they like me, they respect me. And the students here I have found work hard to please the professors they like, which is why I think of all the people I talked to (not that the students don’t like my colleagues; I’m not saying that), I had more students taking advantage of revision opportunities in my classes. And if wanting to please me makes them do the work and come to class prepared, then whether they like it or not, they’re going to learn something right? And at least last quarter, none of them mistook that for thinking they “deserved” a particular grade because they were nice to me or vice versa. I think life goes easier for me when I can be a goofball but maintain professionalism.
The only downside was the over eager student who wants me to “proofread” the manuscript that zie’s writing, in which I told hir that zie was more than welcome to discuss hir drafts with me during my office hours. Um because no. I’m not an editor and I don’t get paid for that. And if zie shows up with the expectation that I will “proofread” the draft, then I will explain that to hir; I will. But I get the impression that the question was more of a “please take me seriously as an English minor” plea rather than a “be my editor for me” request. So we’ll see what happens.