Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Now is the time on Sprockets when we PHONE IT IN.

Week 12, mes anges.* Thanks to the upcoming four-day Easter weekend, I have only fourteen more teaching days. Only fourteen--and yet fourteen seems so long, when all the resources have been so thoroughly depleted by what is effectively 7.5 months of five-day-a-week teaching (there was a month off for winter break, yes, but when one considers the whirlwind of anxiety that was/is winter break--a week spent grading; then traveling for the holidays, and anxious fuming over interview notes whilst the family drinks eggnog (and yes, a few restful days in there, I admit); then the cross-country swing for the stressfest of MLA, leaving a week to prep three new courses--well, the end of the spring semester is decidedly more exhausted than the fall).

So what does this mean? Well, for one, it means that I'm stupid. Really. Can't hold a thought. Before class today I had two lovely revelations that I intended to impart in our 75-minute discussion. Easily, I thought, could I draw out the conversation; this was such a rich film, there was so much, my goodness, I'm a smarty. And then what happens? Within five minutes, people, all my brilliance has been scooped by a student--a student who normally sits so quietly, good lord, I didn't know she had it in her. Five minutes! So I'm thinking, fuck, 70 to go, and here I am with one page of notes for God-knows-what-reason (I normally shoot for six, based on a calculation made in like my first week of teaching ever, four years ago. Unexamined assumptions, I heart thee). Managed to get through the class by belaboring issues and asking lots of obscure, needlessly complicated questions that required extensive explanation on my part. Hurrah.

Comp this week: peer workshops yesterday, conferences tomorrow. (Fifteen of them (with a few more on Thursday); God help me.) No class Friday or Monday (Easter weekend!). With permission, stole in an in-class exercise from a colleague for next Wednesday. Can we spend two days the following week doing presentations of research projects? Why not? Why not make it three days, after all? Comp: Done.

Survey? Well, I've fallen back on notes from last year, which I don't much like doing (they're not fresh and just seem so....lame), but So It Goes. After fifteen conferences, I am not going to feel like coming up with a whole new slate of topics over lunch. And prepping tonight = unlikely.

Oh, and then Thursday! Back to the seminar, where I for some reason budgeted two days to talk about the movie that we more or less exhausted in five minutes. After mucking wearily about on the internet in search of some short text or film clip or something (I say to my students at the end of class, "On Thursday, we'll do something else!", and, when pressed, act like it's just a big mystery--little do they know (I hope) that a mystery it is, and to me), I decide that we can talk about the final paper--for I was asked about that today, and goodness, I haven't given it a thought. Some brainstorming, in-class writings, group discussion, blah blah blah. It's all pedagogically sound and more useful than Random Reading No. 5, but I do feel like a cheat when I use strategies like that--especially when I'm so conscious of having lost all track of what the hell I'm doing when I get up in front of a room.

Yeah. I am way tired. Sixteen weeks is a long ass semester. And I've got my dear mother, who is being incredibly helpful with wedding stuff, sending me six panicked emails a day about how we absolutely cannot serve food for under $35 a person, and do I have a musician scheduled yet? And don't get me started on Kalamazoo paper (I just noticed that the draft I'd started in no way conforms to the session topic) or the presentation on a topic that has no bearing on anything I've ever worked on that I agreed to give on Alumni Weekend. Sigh. Or, as I should say, soupire.

*I'm using French because today I successfully arranged for a room for a week in Normandy, over the phone. Victoire!


Good Enough Woman said...

All of your plans sound perfectly reasonable, especially to someone like me, whose semesters are 18 weeks long.

Hang in there!

heu mihi said...

EIGHTEEN weeks??? Oh good God. I'm sorry.

Sisyphus said...

What film is it???? Yum, film!

If you want any filmy-type stuff to discuss about production or style or shooting, let me know --- I'm sure I can fill time for you. ;)

the rebel lettriste said...

When in doubt, make the students do all the work. Fuck lecturing! Park 'em in groups and have them closely read a section and come up with something to share with the rest of the class.

And 18 weeks sucks dog balls. Rilly.

heu mihi said...

Just to be clear, and in deference to Good Enough Woman: My semester is only 16 weeks long. Only!

undine said...

This is my nightmare: "Within five minutes, people, all my brilliance has been scooped by a student."

But just keep repeating "a week in Normandy . . . a week in Normandy . . . a week in Normandy."

heu mihi said...

True. I simply cannot garner sympathy.