Thursday, September 1, 2011

Teaching Ain't Easy (or, Duh)

I think I've finally over-done it. I've bitten off more than I can chew. After a summer of fabulous productivity in the writing department, I'm spent. I know I wrote basically the same thing exactly a week ago, but it seems that Thursdays, I hit a wall. Or, more accurately, Wednesday I hit a wall, but habit dictates that I face this reality on Thursdays when I try to write my Thursday night post for Friday.

Teaching, it seems, it taking everything out of me. I'm completely redoing all three of my classes (for a total of five sections) to various degrees. My peer-driven classroom is mentally draining; the uncertainty of what is going to happen in every class is unnerving and stressful, I'm not going to lie. My other classes are using texts and techniques that are more traditional but unfamiliar to me. I'm re-learning how to teach.

But I also think that I have never had a clear picture about just how physically and mentally taxing teaching really is. When I was a PhD student, I was young, unattached, and only had one class to teach (at noon, no less). I started my first adjunct position (four sections) when I was pregnant, so if I was tired, I "blamed" it on the pregnancy. When I went back to the adjunct position after having the baby, I just assumed I was tired because I had a small baby who was still nursing and not sleeping through the night. And then, my tenure track job was an even split between being pregnant and having a newborn. 

And then last year, when I started teaching full time after a year off, I was also taking care of my son part-time, trading off with my husband. In other words, I've never been in a situation where teaching can and is the only source of my complete and utter exhaustion at the end of the day. But now, I think that I've been getting it all wrong; motherhood is easy, teaching is the hard part. 

This semester, I have no excuse for not being able to find some balance in my life. I know that one of the reasons my energy levels are down is because I'm not taking care of myself. Because the kids are back in school, I just assumed I'd be able to maintain my manic writing pace I set for myself over the summer. But, I apparently can't replace one set of kids with another with no impact. 

So, here's what I've decided: I'm reducing the number of weekly posts here from three to two. One on Sunday night for Monday, another on Wednesday night for Thursday. Mondays will still be about my peer-driven classroom, while Thursdays will be whatever catches my fancy. I'll still be doing my monthly posts for UVenus, as well as looking for other opportunities to guest-post (or even make some money!). And unless a call-for-submissions really catches my eye, I'm taking a break from academic writing, too. I mean, as soon as I get all of these essays I have left to write out of the way (seriously, there are two more). 

So thank you, loyal readers. My peer-driven class would not be nearly as successful as it has been if you had not been here for me, supporting me, offering advice, and just a sympathetic ear. I tell my students that this can have a ripple effect; I already know that I have inspired some of you to try this, and my students are also reaching out to their professors, introducing them to the idea that maybe they can handle having a voice their own educations. 

But, for tonight, I'm done. I'm going to bed.

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