My Beautiful Wickedness

Ok, my peeps, a question for you all.
November 5, 2007, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have been waking up on teaching days crawdadding away mentally about not wanting to go teach, not having anything important to say, not feeling knowledgeable or prepared, finding it very hard to focus on any one topic to begin my preps…and on non-teaching days, I feel actively relieved that I don’t have to face the classroom today. Saturdays are heavenly because I don’t have to go to campus at all; Sundays, the dread cycle starts all over again. I cancelled a set of classes when I wasn’t actually sick just because I felt so overwhelmed with the administrative and assessory aspects of my job that I really didn’t think I could stand up and run class effectively. I won’t say that’s never happened before, but it doesn’t happen much.

However, I do fine with delivering the lecture or running the conversation or managing the small-group; once I make myself get dressed (always running late) and prep (drag-assing on this), I breeze into the classroom and I do alright. I feel good and I connect with students and I don’t notice anything weird about my performance.

Any ideas on what’s causing this mild burned-out feeling and how to turn it around? The dark chocolate cure isn’t working this time.


5 Comments so far
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Try installing full-spectrum lightbulbs in your office. It’s expensive, but not as expensive as psychotherapy.

Comment by nm

I don’t have a solution but I’m feeling much the same for whatever that is worth. I’m meeting my classes, and I think I’m doing fine in them, but all of the stuff outside of there is really wearing me down… and all I have to look after is me and the dog.

As you probably remember, mornings are not my friends and I am just hoping that next semester, when I do not have to be in at 8 am all the time and my class load will be lighter, that I’ll start feeling better.

Comment by Gerald

As a student, may I step up as the first to ask: is it your students? Early November seems to be when even the most motivated students glaze over, and I can see how frustrated my profs become at the prospect of seeing us gaze emptily at them for an hour or two.

“I cancelled a set of classes when I wasn’t actually sick just because I felt so overwhelmed with the administrative and assessory aspects of my job…” That statement prompts me to share my strategy for keeping it together as the semester wears on. I allow myself what I think of a “a personal snowday” each semester: one day when I’m allowed to wake up, roll over, and decide that I cannot make it to class after all. Most semesters, I never exercise the option, but knowing I made the choice to be there every day spurs me to engage fully in the work.

Comment by Elsa

A pro never blames the class. But I can acknowledge that their fatigue is having an effect. Teaching is all about connecting — getting them on the same page with each other, connecting them with the voices of the past, explaining what person A has to do with causing Event B — and they have to be mentally present, prepared, ready to work with me because I just can’t do it all alone.

Students in my classes have been looking at their metaphorical watches since late October, wondering when Thanksgiving will come around. This is the point in the semester when people who have really under-performed figure out that they can’t turn it around; they aren’t going to magically climb from that D to a B because they are just out of time to make a dramatic comeback. So they lose hope — once you’ve missed seven or eight classes, you’re over the waterfall. The people who conclude they can’t possibly pass the final make the rational choice to cut my class to invest more time in things they can pass, so my attendance is flagging. People who are anxiously disposed are going nuts about every little grade. Lots of illness, break-ups, car troubles, lack of focus…

Yes, part of it is students who have let go of their end of the rope. Yesterday, I gave a simple eval to figure out what they had gotten out of their recent reading and what they were retaining. The average score was a 4 out of 14 in one class, 5 of 14 in the other. Alarmingly, their retention over time is even worse than that. They really aren’t holding on to much and that’s scaring me. We train a lot of teachers and if nothing is sticking beyond what they already knew (mostly incorrect) from high school…they aren’t going to pass their state certifications. I would just be sick if I just paid $100k for a four-year ed degree and then just couldn’t get the job I thought I was preparing for. I’m trying to adjust my assessment to help them be more accountable, but sometimes I think the old-fashioned “turn off the TV and get your head into your work” has to come from within. Some students have that drive and others just don’t.

My “snowday,” unfortunately, inconveniences about 100 students who have to get up, get dressed, drive to school (gas costs), find a parking space, walk in the cold…and then it sort of doubles my workload later, as the material has to be taught. So as valuable as that “sanity day” strategy is for students (my attendance policy in class speaks to that periodic human necessity), it’s not such a wise thing for profs to do, ultimately.

Comment by bridgett

“Never whine in front of your students.” – D.N. McCloskey

I know what you mean about the “snow days.” Every now and then I’m really tempted to fall back to my school days – “I am so sick *cough*cough*” – but then I think of my kids dragging themselves in and I figure if I can make it in I just have to.

Speaking of which- off to my evening class. These twelve-hour Mondays are getting old.

Comment by Gerald

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