26 August 2011

One down, 14 to go

I am so wiped out. I know, it's not digging ditches or removing trash, but teaching produces its own particular kind of exhaustion. Especially during the first week or two, when I've been enjoying a fairly solitary life most of the time since mid-May. So! many! people! and they all seem to want something.

They're good people. I think I'll have good classes. It's just that there are so many of them, and I am the complete opposite of gregarious. The students seem good-natured, with no obvious problem children among them; at the second class meeting, people had either the books or photocopies, an excellent sign of preparedness and commitment. It's true I can tell who knows how to study a language, and who does not. I will have to give more recommendations on how to learn (internalize, commit to memory) Middle English pronouns and verb endings, because I think some people just look at the tables and move on. But the self-corrected practice quizzes should make clear to them (I hope) that they'll have to do more work.

I think the students are having fun, which is good, because I've worked hard at figuring out how to teach ME as if it were a living language (never having taught a foreign language, let alone had pedagogical training in how to do so), and written a lot of dialogues and so on from scratch. So I hope this works. I think some of the fatigue comes from doing a New Thing, and some is from the intense interaction that language teaching seems to require. I am feeling a lot of sympathy for (and considerable awe of) Z.

And some of it is scheduling. Like Dr. Crazy, I have a night class (I nearly always have a night class) and then teach again the next day. I'm not 'on' as early as she is, but I don't think she has my commute, either. And in any case, if you are not a night person, night classes are their own special brand of hell, for you have to get jazzed up enough to be an energetic teacher at a time when you want to be winding down, and then you stay jazzed up because of the teaching buzz long after you would like to be in bed. And this goes on week after week, unlike the occasional social event that seems worth staying up for. I read the advice at Dr. Crazy's place hopefully, but I have never found that any amount of rituals (or drinks) help. It's like the common cold, in that it lasts seven days if you treat it and a week if you don't. The only thing that helps is allowing the requisite amount of time to pass. The rituals (or drinking) are just something to do so you feel like you're doing something while the time passes.

It'll get better. I'll get used to being with people more. We'll move on from intense language study into literary analysis. I'll get to know the students so the interactions won't be with complete strangers. I'll reconsider my schedule and figure out what I can manage and what has to change. I'll eat more chocolate.


Ink said...

I'm one down, fourteen to go, too, and this post spoke to me, as I exhausted right now, too. May we both reconfigure our energy currents to meet the demands of the new term. Whew.

Glad your classes seem pleasant!

Professor Zero said...

Yes, it's the intense interaction of language courses that's so draining. My worst language experience right now of course is one where nobody speaks enough of the same languages, so I have to think in 3. But it's the intense interaction.

The worst about it for me is no air conditioning / ventilation or a / v equipment, in a book that requires a / v, and being shamed for asking for either ... the institution SO obviously doesn't care about the program or the students, and SO sadistically rubs our faces in this while speaking prettily.

Professor Zero said...

Also - it's illuminating to see all these people on 4/4s who get more done than I do talk about how to take care of themselves to sustain this. They're the ones I'm in awe of.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Z, you seem to have been taught to ignore your own needs. But listen to those 4/4 people, and dissociate: treat yourself as they treat themselves, *because that is what should happen.* Or treat yourself as you would advise another teacher to look after herself, if you don't hand on the maladaptions to others.

My capcha is appropriate: mormess. We got enough mess now, thanks.

Belle said...

Boy, did this post speak to me! I need Ink to rewire my energy currents, because mine are seriously out of whack.

profacero said...

Needs, me? I have none - having any would be immature! ;-)