I only met with my students once last week, so this week is the full grind. A miracle occurred today, though! I didn’t bring any work home. The key seems to be going back to my office to do work instead of leaving immediately after class. Imagine that.
The rest of last week is a blur, for sure. All that course prep makes my brain go to mush. Oh, and I forgot to post this e-card a friend sent me when I was complaining about course prep last week, so here it is now:
Now that I’m back, of course, I’m fine (and even in the zone). But, man, that prep week is whoa.
Time for another link round-up! Here are some interesting things I read this week:
Zetta Elliot has a comprehensive list of 2016 MG & YA titles by African-Americans.
I posted this to Facebook after it was clear where the election was headed (@ 2:06 a.m.):
I have been trying to sleep since 10:30 and can’t.
All I can think about is how over 400 years, this country has used and abused us and made it clear over and over how much they hate us. And over 400 years we haven’t let them take our humanity or our souls. And how we have so much now that our ancestors couldn’t even begin to wish and hope for. And what it must have been like for them to see this same abuse, this same denial of their humanity denied over and over and over again.
I am living that latter experience in a very real way. But I feel good knowing that I did what they couldn’t and wanted to do, which was vote. And I feel good about the candidate I voted for.
In fact, we didn’t get much more than some wind (highest was 55mph, according to the weather peeps) and rain. We didn’t even lose power this time! So that was nice. I’m genuinely saddened by the devastation and death in Haiti as well as the towns in Florida that did get destroyed in pretty significant ways, though.
Today, I’m reflecting on what I’m going to do differently next semester. I realized that we have done too much Cinderella stuff. Next time, I’ll use Cinderella for the example but assign a different fairy/folk tale for the students’ assignments. I’m also going to just do one whole class novel instead of letting the students pick from three. That way, we can have an actual in-depth discussion as a class.
Then, if I teach this class again in the fall, I’m totally doing censorship. TOTALLY.
On to the books.
I didn’t post last week because, although I finished a book, I didn’t know what I was going to read next. Like, I honestly had no clue. My work schedule is so hectic (I’m teaching an overload, so six classes instead of my usual five) that my brain is mostly mush–not to mention I’m behind on everything. And by everything, I mean EVERY SINGLE THING. It is maddening. And unlike with my usual beginning of semester behind on everythingness, I’m not really seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
Normally I am Nemo on the first day of school, but today I felt like Marlin.
To start, none of my classes are fully loaded into the LMS our school uses. Not a single one. I thought I had finished one (early even!) but realized yesterday or the day before that I had prepped it for a face-to-face course and not a hybrid one. (Hybrid courses are mostly online with a face-to-face component.) Oh, and I realized last night that I had just completely forgotten all about putting one of my classes in the LMS. Just…totally forgot it.
To be clear: my courses are fully prepped and planned out for the semester, and my syllabi are done. However, I like to have every single assignment and due date and supporting document locked and loaded into the LMS by the Friday before school starts. I like to have all my syllabi and course documents that I need for the first day copied by the Friday before school starts.
And last night, I was just trying to make sure I had the first two weeks of my classes that started today in there. And then I felt bad for all the times I had secretly mocked people who waited until right before their classes start to make copies of their syllabi.
Today, I ate my words and my smug judgmental mocking. Today, I was one of them.
And of course the printer wasn’t working when I got to school today. OF COURSE. Because wasn’t that just what I deserved?
(I may be being just a touch melodramatic here. Obviously, the not working printer affected more than just me. HOWEVER, I probably felt it the most because of the lack of preparation shame. But I digress.)
However! They day was not a total loss. My three classes went well (we read and discussed “The Cinder Maid” since the first part of the semester will focus on Cinderella stories), and only one went under time. One ended perfectly in time and the other almost went over. The discussions were good, though, and my students all had good energy.
And, really, isn’t that what matters most in the end?
1. The classroom is my stage, and I am the star.
suckers, er, students are stuck with me shining for 50-75 minutes per class session. Aren’t they lucky?
2. No research required.
One of the best parts of my job is that the focus is 100% on teaching, which means I don’t have to publish anything. All I’m required to do is teach and do service (committee work).
3. I am a huge English (reading and writing) nerd, and my job is…to be a huge reading and writing nerd.
I majored in English because I liked to read and write. I teach reading and writing because I like to read and write. So, really, this is pretty much what I was born to do.
4. I get to come up with cool assignments.
I mean, yes, often we have to do some fundamentals, which means writing summaries and other run of the mill stuff like learning MLA. But then, on other days, I get to make my students do poetry slams for their final exam or write papers about Mulan. So it balances out.
5. I get to teach a lot of first-generation and non-traditional college students.
As a first-generation college student who didn’t understand or know anything about college except that I wanted to go, I love that I get to share everything I have learned about navigating college with my students. I have been where they are, and I understand a lot of what they’re struggling with. I also have the benefit of having a pretty varied college experience. I did the straight out of high school to college thing, but I also did the college after taking a break and college while working to support a child as a single parent thing.
6. I do not have to deal with parents.
Even though I teach dual enrollment students (high school students taking college courses), my engagement is solely with the students as college students. High school teachers, on the other hand, have a responsibility to keep parents informed of their students’ progress, etc. That is not something I have to do! In fact, I may have only spoken to one or two parents since I’ve started my job and they had to get express permission from their children for me to discuss anything with them. AND those calls often go to the dual enrollment office or my department chair, so it’s rare I get them at all.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with parents, but, well, see next point.
7. I am the boss, and my syllabus is law.
My faaaaavorite part of teaching college is that I tell my students what they need to do and it’s their responsibility to do it. Period. When I worked for the K-12 public school system, I was told that even if a student wasn’t doing their work or whatever, you couldn’t fail a student until you talked to the parents and blah blah blah lots of other stuff (this may have changed–it was eons ago). I never liked that because my attitude is basically, “I told you what to do. Now do it.” And that’s what happens when you teach college! Because it’s in the syllabus.
True story: I have that comic up on my office door.
8. I get a winter break, a spring break, and a summer break.
Okay, so right now, the summer break is like a unicorn since I have never not taught summer school (this summer included–although, this summer I’m teaching an online class, so I am almost there). And, okay, yes, I do spend at least a week during my winter and summer breaks doing lesson planning and course prep. HOWEVER, those breaks exist and I don’t have to go into the office unless I want to, and I can make plans to travel and relax for the holidays, and I don’t have to request extra time off.
And since I don’t have to publish or do extra research, I can actually use my breaks (minus next semester course prep, sigh) to rest. Again, I’m not 100% there, but next summer, I should be living the dream. I can almost taste it.
9. I do not have to sit at a desk from 9-5.
While I am required to have office hours, I set them myself and they have not, as yet, required me to be in my office every day until 5 p.m. In fact, I may be able to completely avoid having office hours on Friday this upcoming semester. It’s pretty sweet, I must admit.
10. I have pretty awesome colleagues.
The only thing I love as much as teaching is probably talking about teaching. And it’s pretty great that I am surrounded by other professors whose primary work is teaching. We get to swap ideas and war stories, and (almost) everyone is fun, funny, and engaging. I have been blessed in general to get along with my coworkers, but I really and truly do like the people in my department as well as the professors from other disciplines who are in my office unit.
Also, our department secretary is the bomb. I can be pretty high-strung sometimes, and she has not once let on how much I must drive her crazy. She is a goddess among women, seriously.
Please comment and tell me what you love (or enjoy, if love is too strong a word, ha) about your job!
Let’s have a chat about Whitney Houston.
I was reminded of how much I used to love her when I was teaching a poetry unit, and one of the poems we discussed was “Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe. In prepping for class, I ran across this:
When I showed it to my students, I was just so happy. I did the hand to the heart pose of remembering and love and everything. This was literally me in the middle of class:
Once when we were on a road trip, my mother found this cassette in her car and, since I was driving, I popped it in and was able to sing the whole thing backwards and forwards even though I hadn’t listen to it in years:
I knew it so well because I used to listen to it non-stop as a kid. Non-stop. I can even do Jermaine’s parts on “Take Good Care of My Heart.” (…and I just found out that that’s Teddy Pendergrass on “Hold Me.” WOW.)
Do you remember that time Whitney was on “Silver Spoons”? I DO!
I had no idea “Saving All My Love” was about being a mistress until a couple of years ago. I was so scandalized!
Apparently, I loved her so much as a kid that I wrote to her and got an invitation to join her fan club. So, I was a member of the Whitney Houston Official Fan Club. I had a t-shirt and everything.
So, I loved her a lot is what I’m getting at. I mean, it was OFFICIAL. I just wish I had gotten a chance to see her in concert.
For the A to Z challenge, I’m blogging about fannish pursuits (aka things I’m a fan of or have strong feelings about). Tune in tomorrow to see what I picked for X!
How do academics show how much they love stuff? They either write papers/articles about the things they love or create assignments about the things they love. One of my best assignments is probably my Mulan definition argument essay. It is brilliant, if I do say so myself.
Get it? Because I bow down to Mulan but the assignment is so brilliant the world bows down to me?
Anyway, the assignment was perfect for a summer class. Basically, I had my students watch the movie, and then they wrote an essay arguing that Mulan deserved a soldier’s pension even though she broke the law.
I’m putting the assignment overview and guidelines below. To prep for the assignment, we read a definition argument in their textbook and MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and talked a lot a lot a lot about addressing a hostile audience, which is why King’s letter is so crucial.
Your assignment, then, is to take on the persona of one of the soldiers and argue that Fa Mulan fits the definition of a soldier because she exhibited the characteristics of a man suited for the rage of war as put forth by the Chinese army and deserves the bonus and the lifetime pension.
Your audience for the paper is the Emperor’s council, and your paper must explain how Mulan fits all of the criteria for being a soldier because she proved herself to be a man suited for the rage of war. You must provide examples of how she fits each criterion outlined on the previous page as well as anticipate and refute any objections the council may have. In order to be successful, you have to establish your credibility and authority to determine whether or not Mulan is qualified to be considered a soldier and use a tone appropriate for the audience. The council must be thoroughly convinced that Mulan deserves the bonus plus lifetime pension.
If anyone wants more details or the full assignment, please email me: theenglishist[at]gmail.com.
For the A to Z challenge, I’m blogging about fannish pursuits (aka things I’m a fan of or have strong feelings about). Tune in tomorrow to see what I picked for N!