11 March 2008

Chaotic year

Well, there has been a long silence from my end, I know. And it hasn't been from lack of desire -- just exhaustion and eye strain (I think). Normally, the school year gets underway, and I'm on top of things, especially in the early weeks before the assignments start rolling in. But this year -- this year has been so over-the-top nuts that I don't know whether I'm coming or going or even here in the moment!

I'm trying to sort out what is different:

(i) I've increased my work load from 0.4 to 0.6, which is always going to be a big thing as it's a 50% increase in hours. But it seems like about a 200% increase... On the other hand, it's not like I haven't had a similar teaching load in the past, because I used to be 0.4 in my current job, and teaching one subject off campus as a sessional for another institution. But this still feels like more.

(ii) I'm not teaching a small online unit I've taught the last few years -- this is a good thing as it tended to sop up all my office time, so this should have cut me a lot of slack.

(iii) I'm teaching a new subject so have spent an awful lot of time putting together a new reader. You know, we do get marking and preparation time, but it doesn't come anywhere near the time we spend doing marking and preparation. I'm not complaining, because for all the extra hours I put in, I still think this is a better job with better conditions than my old science job. For a start, I don't get called in at 3 a.m. for a couple of hours, and then be needed back at 9. And then I'm not working with carcinogenic, infectious, corrosive, acidic, smelly, explosive materials. I haven't set my workplace on fire. (Yes, did that in the lab once!) And I don't have the same levels of stress -- I well remember the day the immunohaematology teacher told us that in most subjects if we got 5 out of 10 we passed, but in that subject if we got 9 out of 10 we had just killed one person. And she wasn't joking. And I also remember all the histology teachers with their missing fingers. But that's another story. Suffice to say I now resent giving up whole weekends for marking, but I do like my job.

(iv) I'm teaching a new subject so have a lot more class prep to do. It's always hard teaching something new because you have to assimilate so much more knowledge. If you want to learn about something, teach it. Seriously. So that's a big drain on my time, but on the other hand it's a great learning experience, and I'm really enjoying that class. And it's a great complement to the other two classes I'm teaching. They're all so different.

(v) I'm writing materials for an online subject that another teacher is teaching, so the challenge is for me to stay comfortably ahead of the class. That's been both harder and more rewarding than I thought, so again it's sopping up lots of time -- time I could be writing -- but I am getting something out of it all.

(vi) I've just finished judging one literary competition and started shortlisting judging for another. These have also been big drains on my time. It's always an interesting process, judging, and so much harder than I expect it to be. How does one weigh up apples against oranges? I don't know. But it's also a great experience for any writer to go through to truly understand (yes, split infinitive, I know. Shocking, isn't it?) what the other end of the process looks like.

(vii) I'm tired. Every year I seem to be sleeping fewer hours, and this year I can't remember the last time I had a weekend, or even a full day off. Doesn't mean I'm always using my time effectively, or every day is jam packed with work, but then I am trying to maintain a house and a family outside of all of this. And read. And write. It's not an easy balance, and sometimes the things that go are my online presence. So I'm sorry to all the people I owe emails to!

Part of the problem is that I had a bit of January off, and actually had it off. Didn't do any work for work, but boy am I paying for it now. Anyway, it's all good -- the midsemester break is looming, I've just written next week's test, and am starting -- just starting to think I can see that light at the end of the tunnel. Let's hope it's not just a glowworm, leading me into deep, dark places!

1 comment:

Sherryl said...

It's impossible sometimes, isn't it? We think 'oh mid-semester break is coming up so I'll catch up then' but the trouble is we spend our holidays working to catch up and we don't have a rest and we still don't write, or not regularly enough anyway.
I wish you could fix your sleeping thing though - it would make a huge difference to coping and energy.