Sunday, March 13, 2005

What's the secret to doing it all?

Well, I'm frantically trying to prepare final exams and grade last papers before I take off for CCCC in San Francisco, and I'm wondering whether everybody else is scrambling, too.

I teach on a quarter system, but I generally have three different preparations going each quarter. The mix changes constantly because I'm at a small school, but I usually have 2 composition courses, most often at two different levels (English 101 and English 102, for example) and a humanities course, or a literature course. I never have the same preparations from quarter to quarter. Usually, I teach 5 to 7 different courses each school year, and then I have a couple of other courses that rotate in every other year.

I guess I'm nuts because I love the constant change. However, I always feel like I'm running at full speed through deep mud. I don't know how you all manage to keep up with everything and read multiple blogs and respond to multiple blogs and read journals, books........ What's the secret to doing it all?


At 1:45 AM, Blogger jocalo said...

One secret: comp teachers don't have a life.

Everyone scrambles to go to major conferences, especially when presenting. You have to do double work: arrange for your students' instruction and plan for your own learning experience at the conference.

Part of it is our academic tradition that we must arrange for students in our absence. In most businesses, someone else covers when a key person travels on business. And businesses plan their conferences on other calendars: the teachers are the ones who chose Christmas week (MLA), Thanksgiving week (NCTE) and spring break (CCCC). TESOL also comes around spring break (since spring is broken differently in different institutions).

Whether its a heightened sense of duty--or martyrdom--or just a streak of Puritan madness, most teachers double up in some way in order to improve themselves for their students.

I've been doing it for a long time and I still can't explain why I do it.

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharon, I don't read journals until the summer time--really. Okay, I read an article in NADE's journal on the flight out here, but I also have Jeff Rice's book half- read and Timburg's book half- read too-The deeper we get into the semester, the less time I have to read deeply and thoughtfully unless it's for a prep--just read an author's blog, for example. These blogs help me stay up to date with what's going on elsewhere. Part of my summer plan is to go back and read some of the things that Clancy and Mike have on their blogs, which, right now, cause my eyes to cross and my brain turn to pudding. Of course, I'm also reading everything I can get my hands on about dementia and caregiving, and that eats my time, too,so . . . I think that those of you who teach in the quarter system must be something--the pace must be galvanizing or maddening or both.
As far as the writing goes, I use this blog to help me articulate what I'm doing in the classroom so that I can write about it more formally later, and my personal blog, 2 Board Alley, is a repository for my classwork in poetry, my genealogical writing for my nieces, and my charming sense of the ridiculous which, I realized, needed space after I blogged "Scat Blogging" here.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger sharon said... I'm not alone. I feel better - still a bit crazy, but then I can always just "embrace the crazy".

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, here goes! This is my first comment on a blog. I'm thinking of starting one and I want to feel the experience.

I'm an instructor at Santa Barbara City College and I choose this area to make my comment because I see myself in these comments. I teach two writing classes, and, I agree; I do not have a life ::))

I want to share an experience and ask a question. This semester I felt/feel as if I'm getting nowhere fast with my students. (I have about 25 students in each class; they are at many levels; they're very diverse; and must finish 5 edited papers.) Each class lasts 2 hours 20 minutes; I hate lecturing about grammar, etc. and at 8:00 a.m. I believe my students need activity. Some were looking tired, others bored or distracted and I was struggling to attend to so many needs - from basic sentence structure to style and outline of essays. So, I decided to put on the brakes and take an entirely new approach. In groups I had them create Language stations (prewriting/words, sentences/verbs, paragraphs/catchy introductions, and essay) - very hands-on. I've never done this at the college level and I do it with heart in hand.

Have any of you ever taken that approach? If so, what were the results?


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