So since I got called out by a student (I’m looking at you, Kyle) about not keeping up with my blog, I guess it’s time for me to get to blogging. Just like my students, I am going to be updating like mad over the next couple of days.
I am usually so much more organized and it drives me crazy that I have fallen this far behind. Last semester I had no problem with blogging at least on a weekly basis, sometimes more frequently than that even. This time around, my blogs noticeably tapered off right around the time that I took over classes for a colleague, right around the time of Spring Break. Now, I don’t believe in making excuses, so I’m not. The truth is, though, that I discovered this semester that teaching 6 classes (and four online courses) is just too much for me. It’s been especially challenging when they are not all the same class, or even when they are but are at a different pace. For instance, 2 of my CSUF sections do almost the same assignments as one of my Fullerton College sections, but since the semesters don’t match up between the two campuses, they are off by anywhere from a week to two weeks throughout the semester. So figuring out what each section is doing on any given day, who has what due that day or the next, and so on, has been exhausting.
The two classes that I took over for are the same level of class but have a completely different book, different assignments, and the class is set up in a completely different style. That has been quite an experience for me, teaching someone else’s course in his style. It’s always good for me to see how someone else approaches a class and what different assignments could look like. It can be frustrating at the same time, though. Grading an assignment that I never created is challenging, especially if I don’t like the topic, and since I didn’t create it, I don’t know what he had in mind or what criteria to be looking for. Again, that’s a great way to grow and sharpen my own teaching and grading skills, but the frustration is still there. I’ve gotten to see what other kinds of reading assignments instructors might give out, and I will say that his are more difficult than much of what I assign. Reading and discussions are also a much bigger proportion of the class, so there’s less hands-on writing type stuff that I would normally do. That isn’t to say his way is wrong; in fact, it has been fascinating to me to see how some of the students rise to the challenge of taking on these complex topics. At the same time though, I wonder about those that don’t understand the reading, or those who do not really improve much writing-wise, and how they fare in their future courses.
But anyway, I am the type of person who likes to be busy and juggle a lot of responsibilities, but I think I can now say that I have discovered what is too much, as far as a teaching load. I hate the feeling of falling behind, or not knowing what is due for which class the next week so that I’ve prepared everything. It leaves me feeling very anxious, this feeling of being one step behind instead of three steps ahead.
It’s also a problem when I have run out of surface space in my office for all of the stacks of assignments to grade! Yikes!
The good news is, just like for all of the students who are stressed out about finals, it will all be over soon. And in 12 weeks, a new semester will begin, and this one will seem like it was in the distant past.