Friday, August 29, 2008

Whining and Moaning

Well, the semester is back underway, and I am feeling vaguely rested after sleeping for 8 hours last night plus a 2-ish hour nap yesterday evening. I know that in a week or two I'll be back in the rhythm of things, and I'll be more used to the schedule, but for now, I'm feeling like I got hit by a 2x4.

See, the issue is that I've got a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday schedule. Many people would probably like to smack me now for complaining about an embarrassment of riches. Consider me smacked, but I shall continue to bemoan the dark side of this otherwise glorious situation. On the one hand, I'm very grateful to have finally achieved this holy grail of schedules. For four and a half years, I taught a 5-day-a-week schedule. This made sense because two of my courses were comp, and I really do believe that comp works best on a 3-day schedule because it means that you can force students to write and to think about their writing at least 3 days of the week. I then taught a literature class or two on Tuesday and Thursday (depending on course release stuff it would be one or two). This made sense because I like the 75 minute block for literature courses because it allows us to go deeper into the texts. There were minor variations in this schedule - a couple of night classes, whatever - but that was basically the schedule. Five days, the bulk of my teaching done by noon. The drawback of this was that I had no large blocks of time during the academic year for researchy things. The benefit was that because I did 2 or 3 hours of teaching per day I hit a stride and was never really exhausted by the teaching.

Throughout that time, colleagues would often pull me aside and say, "You know you could get a better schedule than this, right?" and things of the like. But while I had the traditional comp obligations, this was the best schedule for me and for my students. What's changed this year is that rather than teaching traditional comp I'm doing what amounts to an advanced comp course for graduating seniors in another program, and I'm doing it online. This means that I had the power to switch to the 3-day-a-week gig (which I basically had last semester, too). The configuration of this is that I teach my usual schedule on T/H (9-12) and then an evening class on Wednesday, plus the online gig. Now, the benefits of this are that I do have large blocks of time - Friday through Monday - most weeks. It's rare that we schedule meetings on Mondays and Fridays, so I can pretty much decide that those days are sacred, barring unusual circumstances. On the other hand, I often have meetings scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, plus the schedule requires that I load office hours onto those days as well. The short and whiny story is that this means that I'm pretty much fried by Thursday night, and Friday becomes a total loss.

I learned this last semester when I had a version of the same schedule, but I'd conveniently repressed the fact over the summer. Now, I am reckoning with the pitfalls of this schedule once again. I know that in a week or two I'll be in the groove, but right now? I feel like a zombie.

In other news, you may be wondering about the quest to change the classroom assignment about which I complained earlier in the week. As of now, it's still the same, but the wheels are moving to perhaps get it changed. This may or may not actually happen (we've got a horrible space problem on campus), but I'm pleased that at least People with Power have been alerted to the problem and are on the case. I've come up with a plan B for the class that is the biggest problem, should the room not get changed, and in a worst case scenario, I'll use it. I suppose whatever the ultimate practical outcome, I'm pleased that I'm getting support from beyond my department for the problem, and hopefully by speaking up (and by my students speaking up) this horrible classroom will no longer be in play in coming semesters for classes such as mine.

I have tons to do today, so I should sign off. More later, I suspect.

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