(But our beginnings never know our ends!)
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Late Spring To-Do List
Friday, March 03, 2006
I'm one full day into my spring break, but even after a full night's sleep, a day of cleaning, and a lovely evening of cocktails with one of my oldest friends at Big Metropolitan Museum, I'm still not sure that this vacation is going to be long enough or profound enough to bring me back to life for the rest of the semester.
This was a terrible week, teaching-wise, and although I know that my students bear a large part of the responsibility (it WAS the week before spring break, after all, and I had a high rate of absenteeism), I can't help but worry that it's my fault and a sign of the utter deterioration of my pedagogy.
Exhibit A: on Tuesday, I was still finishing the reading for my class on Author #2 on the train into campus.I really love all of my classes, but this four-classes, two-new-preps thing is really wearing on me and I don't feel that I'm able to give my students everything they deserve. (Once in a while it occurs to me that it's really Big Urban that, by relying so heavily on lecturers and adjuncts, isn't giving them what they deserve--but even when I know that grading 110 papers in four weeks is insane and inhumane, it's hard not to beat myself up for the distractions and oversights that such a heavy load occasionally produces.)
I feel as though I'm half-assing everything, and the parts that I think I'm actually doing pretty well--the grading and commenting on papers, for example--are the ones that I'm getting shit for. Yesterday one of my more talented students asked me, in front of the entire class, whether it was, in fact, possible to get a good grade in my class. I gave her a very polite and encouraging response, but what I wanted to say was: "I gave your paper a B because you're smart and you're a good writer, but your ideas were based on a completely tendentious and superficial reading of the text. I gave your best friend a C+ because she can't write, she didn't seem to understand the work in question, and her paper had no thesis. In both cases, I gave you better grades than you deserved. You wanna try to convince me otherwise?"
I also got a rejection letter today from Small College, the school with which I had my lone on-campus interview. This isn't crushing, but it is disappointing. I liked the school, the faculty, and the students, and I could have seen being happy there, at least for the next several years; it's also relatively close to Atypical College, where George Washington Boyfriend teaches.
On the other hand, I'm reasonably happy at Big Urban, and (assuming that I get reappointed), I'll probably be able to get much more scholarship done there than I would in my first year at SC. When I look at myself realistically, I know that I'm a strong candidate and likely to get a good job eventually--I have a number of significant articles either in print or forthcoming; I've got both a solid book manuscript and an edition in progress; I'm working up a good stable of courses in my field; I have a degree from a top school--but it's still disheartening to feel that all I'm doing is treading water, and it's hard not to second-guess oneself and wonder whether one IS, after all, such a worthwhile candidate. Maybe this is as good as it gets for me.
I also know that it's probably just as well that GWB and I aren't going to be in the same place: he's going up for tenure next year and plans to go on the job market, so the fact that I won't be starting a new job gives him the freedom to look further afield; it also raises the possibility of our doing a joint search.
I know all of these things, as I say, and I even believe them--but sometimes it's still hard not to feel demoralized.
link | posted by La Lecturess at 10:13 PM |
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