Ladies and gentlemen of academia, the end of semester is here. This is usually a time of drudgery (marking seemingly thousands of papers, final projects, and exams) mixed with just a little jubilance when all is said and done and you can finally sit down, relax, and drink until you forget how to swallow. However, I, for one, am a little worried about this end of semester. This has been one of the most stressful and isolating experiences I’ve ever had in my academic career. Forget all that high horse stuff that I went through in my MA, this year has proved to be something of a drain on my mindtank’s resources.
Apart from the worry that I am falling behind in my deadlines for my own work, the mounting issue is the reason for this. I blame teaching for at least a large part of this. I have always known that teaching eats into a lot of time but it wasn’t until this year that I realized just what that meant. All the times I’d taught at university level in the past I had been doing coursework. It was all rigidly structured. I got everything done on time. I was good at it. By the end of my coursework I could basically do a graduate course without a great deal of effort on my part. By the end of my coursework I was busting to be finished with coursework so I could move on to do the more ‘important’ and pressing work on my project. So, what happened when I was finally free of the shackles of coursework? I lost that rigid structure that I was used to.
Now, I’m a fairly organized person. I’m not at a Monica Gellar level (I don’t really fancy colour-coding) but I do fairly well. If there is one thing that this semester has taught me it’s that I am good at organizing things and not time. For my students, I was – and always am – the most organized person. I made sure that I was ahead on all their reading and that I came to class with a definite plan and, in most cases, at least one backup plan if the first one went pear shaped. This is what is expected, so I don’t make any great claims to the title of TA of the year. It was in my own work that things really got out of hand organizationally. It could be because I put so much effort into the teaching part of my life that I neglected my own work. Maybe I was, and still am, using that as an excuse. Maybe, and I believe this is much closer to the truth, I somehow lost my mojo early on and I am looking for a place to shift the blame apart from myself.
This is all just to say that the time has come to make a change in my habits. I don’t do the whole New Year’s resolution thing because it is my responsibility to avoid cliché whenever possible. What I plan on doing instead is using the time between the dank end of this semester and the bright alabaster light of the next one’s beginning to refocus myself and set myself up in such a way that I am able to do my absolute best in the classroom and on my own. In short, I have a plan for where I want to be at the end of next semester, academically and mentally.
Thanks for reading this far. This has been one of those posts that I debate writing let alone posting for the world to see. I had something else I wanted to post today but then the spontaneity of my stupid brain told me that this was more to my liking. Anyhow, I am off to invigilate the final exam for my course and to give students back their papers. I’m not looking forward to any of it. I simply want it to be over for the year because this semester has dragged on long enough. I’ve got another one of these depressing posts up my sleeve on the emotional toll taken on us by plagiarism and the inability to do much of anything about it. That may be where some of my negativity today is coming from. But, I’m going to see Louis CK later this week and that is the one guy who can make me feel better about anything.
Have a great end of semester.