Archive for the ‘school year’ Category

Slow dance

I wonder how many of my posts here have been about school breaks.  Lots, I’m sure. During breaks I have more time for blogging and reflection, plus I remain obsessed with time and how to use it.

I have issues with winter break and spring break. I generally have grandiose plans and they are never fulfilled as my fantasies specify.

This winter break, we stayed close to home (well, except Stubb, who’s just left for an out-of-town gig).  The Snork Maiden dogsat. I didn’t read as much as I expected to, but I did read some.  I have been to seven yoga classes so far, an average of one every other day. One museum.  A few holiday parties, including an open house we held, and Hanukkah at my mom’s tonight.  Haircuts for the Snork Maiden and me.

The grandiose plans this time were mostly focused on “catching up” on school stuff, but “catching up” is a misleading phrase–it would be okay if it were just about the few piles of small assignments I didn’t get around to grading before the break, but in my imagination all sorts of things get attached that can’t actually be acted on when school isn’t in session–conversations, meetings, emails that I meant to have or do or send.  I should recognize that with the way my job is currently constituted, I’m unlikely to ever feel completely “caught up”–there’s always something else I could be thinking about. It’s one of the few things I miss about adjuncting–the sense of being done and off the clock at the end of a term.  (Even then, of course, there was a new term to be planned for–but in my memory my 2YC classes seem to have just repeated each quarter, with less new prep than there actually was.)

Anyway, today I am digging into some of that stuff so that I can bring my anxiety level down–for some reason it peaked in the predawn hours and I found myself lying awake fretting about some very small potatoes indeed.

The sense of an ending

I was thinking about how I get stressed by the approach of the end of the school year, and I was suddenly reminded of a half-remembered quotation from somewhere: “If I liked this, what about it would I like?”  (I think it’s the New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl, but with just a brief search I can’t find the exact quotation and a proper attribution, only other people who seem to half-remember it the same way I do.) It’s a great question for art, and perhaps even better for life situations.  So, if I liked the last six weeks or so of the school year:

  • I would like the feeling of really having come to know the students pretty well, of having seven or eight months of shared experiences and struggles and jokes.
  • I would like seeing my new colleagues settling in and getting comfortable, looking forward to next year, finding a sense of ownership about their courses and their ways of doing things.
  • I would like coming to accept what’s not under my control, of realizing that some of the year’s goals won’t be met, that nothing was perfect, that a lot of things went right anyway.
  • I would like getting ready to bid farewell to colleagues who are leaving: some because they are going on to new adventures and I’m happy for them, and perhaps just one or two that I’ll be relieved not to have to deal with anymore.

Dreamsnake

Terrible dreams last night.  In one, Stubb had been diagnosed with leukemia, and I felt helpless and panicked and out of time.  This dream was mostly about my feelings, which is why it seems as though it might be a teaching dream–about the anxiety of not knowing what to do and feeling that whatever one does, something terrible will happen.

Well, that and the fact that it happened two nights before the first day of school.

In the other, I was on the last day of a visit to Hometown, and I realized I’d forgotten to visit my grandmother.  (In real life, she died in 2009.) I was trying to figure out how to see her and also do the other things that mattered to me, wondering if I could also stop by on the way to the airport the next day, thereby having two visits.  I was also horrified at myself for forgetting, but unwilling to give up any of the other plans I’d made.

This could easily be a dream about teaching and administration.  Or it could simply be the residue of having spent quite a lot of minutes this weekend trying to figure out how to use the weekend well.  I split yesterday among course prep (reread 1984), errands (restocking the fridge and pantry, laundry), yoga, and conferring with N. (my mom’s friend, who is extremely handy, retired, and always up for a project) about a broken faucet.  (He went to Home Depot to buy a new assembly and ended up coming back with a more plumbing-oriented handyman he’d met there, who installed it for $70.  A good use of $70–N. could certainly have done it, but he wouldn’t have done it as fast, and he’d have had to buy supplies that this man had in his truck.)

Today, Sunday, the big thing is going in to campus to finish prepping the things there that didn’t get done during the week of meetings and interruptions.  I tried to figure out how to go to yoga and to Costco before going to campus, but the hours of both put me on campus too late for my own comfort, so I’m going to school first, then my mom’s to pay N. for the faucet, then Costco, maybe to my in-laws’ for a quick visit (should also call to see if they need anything from Costco), and yoga tomorrow night.

Here’s to peaceful dreams tonight!

New leaf

Feeling better.  Stubb and I have tentative plans for a weekend getaway in a few weeks.  And my brain has been taken over by the excitement of going back to school.

I have never had so many meetings in one week!  Fortunately, they were generally worthwhile, and some of them were excellent, with actual decisions being made and positive actions being taken.  The new AHS doesn’t say a lot, but what he says is very much to the point.  The new Head of School is more voluble–no surprise there–but he is also pretty concise and extremely thoughtful.  They both seem to be making tremendous efforts to meet people and to understand the institution they’re now steering.  I invited them both to come to the English department meeting, and they did!  So now they can recognize the members of our department and they’ve gotten a sense of what kinds of things we are working on, individually and departmentally.

Dinah and I are on a faculty committee to advise the new HS on the transition–that was one of the better meetings this week.  I think we all agreed that it feels good so far.  We did raise a couple of the most prominent grumbles of the moment, which seem to us to be symptomatic of our ongoing challenges with internal communication.  So it’s not that everything is perfect, but that the right notes have been struck, both to reassure and to infuse with enthusiasm.  While there is definitely a sense that the leadership has changed, that leadership seems congruent with the direction in which the institution has been trying to move anyway.

This week of meetings is actually challenging in a way I don’t think I’ve noticed before.  It’s important and fun to spend time with adults and have lunch together and organize our classrooms and make plans for the year ahead, but it’s also a week in which we are not performing our core function of teaching–and are maybe suffering from opening-night jitters–and it’s therefore a week in which many of us are easily unsettled.  Within my department, I fielded a few overreactions–at least that’s how they seemed to me–and I am greatly looking forward to everyone getting busy with the main business of our jobs this week.

 

 

Pluck and luck

I hate spring.  It’s the Sunday night of the academic year, when anxieties about not having done enough rear their ugly heads.  (Actually, looking at that post from almost seven and a half years ago reminds me of how much better my life is now.  Maybe things aren’t that bad.)

Today’s bright spot was learning that the junior we nominated for an NCTE achievement award in writing received a “superior writing” recognition, the first one we’ve had in several years.  Yay.

There were other bright spots, to be honest.  I’m just feeling kind of stressy right now.  Too much going on.