Monday, September 14, 2009

Working harder, working smarter

working harder, working smarter




Disclaimer: I'm not talking about the whole 'working smarter' thing in this post, because at the moment, I need to be working a little harder in order to even contemplate working smarter. I'm behind on writing, but am incredibly happy that it looks like the K'zoo panel I'm chairing is going to rock in a serious way. Still haven't made the right contacts for Leeds, and don't have a topic for a paper. Anybody need a respondent or chair? Part of this is sort of deliberate -- Superdean wants me to focus on getting some of my stuff that I've already given into the publishing queue, rather than giving new papers I don't have time to turn into articles. And the book is way behind schedule. But I hope to go to Leeds either way.

Anyway ...

This semester, I am already suffering from serious student ass-kicking. That is, my students are kicking my ass. I'm starting to think there are two sorts of teaching-tired. There's the, "OMG, these people are not doing their work and I am just terribly drained from having to carry this class!" tired. And then there's the, "Oh Noes! The students are doing the work and liking it and making me think!" tired.

With the former, part of the exhaustion comes from the emotional drain of having to keep up energy levels, and having a bunch of people waiting to suck you dry. I had a couple of vampire classes like this last year. Exhausting. But mentally, not all that much work, because at some point, I found myself moving from my usual discussion/active learning classroom mode to content delivery. Content delivery takes so much less work. It takes less prep, especially when you know that the most students are going to ask for is a clarification of spelling. But honestly, I find it soul-destroying.

On the other hand, when classes are doing all the work, and asking good questions, I find myself scrambling, especially when it's after a bad semester. I find myself wanting to live up to the students' expectations, to be worthy of standing in front of them every day. I also feel like beating myself up if I'm not as prepped as I'd like, because dammit, they did the reading! They're participating! I need them to like my class and come back! I need them to become History majors and never stop taking my classes! Um ... I am sounding like a vampire myself, aren't I? Except that, when I have good classes, I feel rejuvenated, or at least tired in a good way, when I'm done. Speaking of which, I've got some marking to do.

Still, if I'm going to have students kicking my ass, I know which way I'd like it to happen.

In the meantime, is anybody else having hir ass kicked (yeah, I'm liking that phrase too much this evening) so far this semester?

3 comments:

tenthmedieval said...

I realised yesterday when Larry announced he'd forgotten to post the Leeds CFPs in time for the paper proposals that I'm very likely not giving a paper this year unless I get my act together and I haven't seen a CFP to which I really have anything to answer. I should have submitted a paper proposal but I don't really have one of those either. Something vague about claims to the waste perhaps? I guess I will send Martin Ryan an abstract in case he doesn't have enough people for Problems and Possibilities if I can come up with just one more thing about charters to present round... I imagine we will also need moderators for that, so that might be a way to get in front of the crowd. Glad you've become a Leeds convert though!

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