Sunday, March 14, 2010

So, So Behind

It is the official last day of spring break (though I have no appointments tomorrow, and I don't have to teach, so I do have a bit of a reprieve), and I have accomplished exactly nothing. I have approx. 20 lengthy things to grade for my online class (which I should have graded weeks ago), 25 short papers for one class, and approx. 15 medium-sized papers to grade for another class. How many of those things did I grade over my break? Exactly none. How many of them MUST be graded pretty much immediately? Exactly all of them. And yet, rather than grading, I'm Not Grading. And feeling guilty about it, and stupid, but I totally lack motivation to accomplish ANYTHING.

Oh, and on top of all of this, I blew off a deadline for an MLA abstract (not that it would have been accepted anyway, most likely, but whatever, I should have submitted something), I accomplished NO research reading or writing over the break, and basically, I'm a loser. No, really. Right at this moment, I am. Do not try to comfort me. I deserve to feel badly.

Well, except. Here's the part where I make excuses for myself. I've been waiting on House-Buying News, and that's taken a lot of energy. (I'm still waiting. Cyndi claims that the hope is that I'll hear by the end of next week. In the meantime, we're both scouring the listings to see if there's anything else to go see.) Also, my parents came this weekend to look at the House Upon Which I Wait. They love the house, but a weekend with the 'rents can be just the teensiest bit exhausting. First of all, talking to them can at times be like playing some bizarre game of "guess what I mean when I say something that makes no sense." Example: G. and I were having a conversation about how my mom refuses to buy him a certain kind of ice cream that she'd once bought for herself, but my mom has a thing where if you decide you like something she likes then she decides she'll never buy it again. But so then, the conversation turned more general, and George said something about Jim and Gary's, and it took me a beat and I was then like, "Do you mean Ben and Jerry's?" And he was all, "That's totally what I said!" Complicating matters is that my mom and G. totally understand this bizarre associative language in which they speak, and so I'm always catching up to conversations about 3 beats after they are over. It's crazy-making. Second, there's just my mom. I love my mom, but she drives me nuts when she stays with me, by doing things like "helping" by putting dirty dishes in a dishwasher full of clean dishes, refusing to be supportive when I need to ramble about things, etc. I know I'm an ungrateful little brat, but you try spending a weekend with these people! (Again, Mom and G. are grand, just a little much to take at times of high stress, such as this one.)

So. I should try to get some grading done, but I just can't face it. I can always grade tomorrow, right? (I hate myself for even suggesting this.)

Hmm. What else? I don't know. I think I'm a little in a funk because I'm coming up on the one-year anniversary of my dad's death. That's been lurking in the shadows of my brain since the beginning of the month. Whatever the case, this was the least restful, least productive spring break I've ever had. And I'm sort of mad at myself for not at least having it be restful, if not productive.



PhysioProf said...

I suppose this is totally douchey of me, but whenever I see "Cyndi", I picture it with a little heart instead of a dot above the "i".

Dr. Crazy said...

Oh, no, it's not douchey :) I feel that you SHOULD picture it that way. I love her - she's fantastic and totally knows her stuff - but she is SOOO the stereotype of a realtor (a) and a realtor from my part of the country (b). And while Cyndi is not her name, it might as well be.

Anonymous said...

I love this page, but seriously.

grading for your students? god no, don't sweat that. I'm sure they don't want to know their progress in the class, where they stand etc. And you're weeks behind on your online class?

what arrogance on your part. grade something, and treat your students and their right to be evaluated professionally with respect.

Dr. Crazy said...

I get your point. This was a venting post, and I didn't come off well in this venting post. And yes, my students deserve consistent and timely feedback.

The reality is that I know that my students deserve feedback and attention. And indeed, I had an chat with my online students tonight (and not the first) that lasted an hour in length in which I answered tons of questions and gave tons of support. And all of their stuff that is outstanding will be back with copious feeback tomorrow.

And as for the students in my other classes, they're not going to know that I procrastinated about grading their stuff, because I'll have graded it by the time when they'd expect it.

Here's the thing. My personal standard for responding to student work is within one week of submission. I feel like shit if I don't meet that standard. BUT. If I don't meet that standard it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm not serving my students. They don't actually KNOW that this is my standard. This is more of a personal goal. And yes, I wish I'd responded to my online students sooner, but my not having done so has not affected, and will not affect, any of their future assignments (and my not having done so doesn't mean that I haven't had contact with them, which I have).

I guess my point is this: yes, I feel like shit for not having met my own standards about when I'll respond to students, or for the amount of work I might have accomplished. But this doesn't mean that I've blown off my students, nor does it mean that my students feel blown off. Have whatever opinion you will of me - or of what I write here. That's you're prerogative. Just realize that when I write a whiny and venting post that the most likely reality is that I'm beating myself up so that I'll do better for my students, and not that I'm excusing myself for the ways in which I shortchange my students.

And yes, I teach a 4/4 load, I serve on two very important standing university-wide committees, I have one of the most active research cvs in my department, I recently was recognized as one of the highest producers in my college, and I've closely mentored one student to Teach for America, one student to law school, and a handful of students to graduate school this academic year. Oh, and I served as an active member on a search committee this year, and I'm actively part of mentoring junior faculty to tenure. All of that said, and I know you're a regular reader? Suck it. This post wasn't about how students suck or about how we shouldn't serve them. It was about how I don't know how to manage. And that's not wrong.

one reflective teacher said...

You specifically mentioned that we are not to console you, so I won't. However, it is completely understandable sometimes, when a teacher is stressed, or has a TON of work to do, that grading takes a little bit longer than usual.

If this is the usual thing that happens in the class, then that is obviously a problem, if it is an occasional thing, I wouldn't sweat it.

English Adjunct said...

Wow, I feel like I just read a post about *my* spring break! Well, plus and minus a little. But seriously, I was struggling with the exact same lack of motivation all week long and now I realize I let that week go. Hate that.

Anonymous said...

I hear you, Crazy. Slow grading is one of my pet peeves as an administrator, because I have to explain to irate students that professors have so much to do besides teaching them

Go take a little lunch break at the Skyline and get back on the grading, though, okay? Haha.

Thanks for responding so reasonably to my (slightly) angry post.


AcadeMama said...

Only stopping briefly to respond to your mother's quirky habit of not buying the thing others have decided they like: I do this too! Don't know what her reasons are, but mine have to do with feeling like nothing is MINE. Absolutely, 100%, totally mine, specifically with food. Either my children or my husband decide that the ONE favorite snacky thing I adore is the thing they should devour in one sitting, which often leaves me to come home, craving said snacky thing, only to find out that someone else has eaten every singe bite! Argggh! So, in all my wisdom and pissines, I just usually decide, screw it. I won't buy it's not worth the disappointment. I share everything else, I just want one thing that can be mine. Or, if I do buy it, I'll keep it in my office (ahem, Samoa Girl Scout cookies).

Sorry for the crazy rant, but I totally recognized my habit in your description of your mother, and I felt the need to offer at least one possible reason.

Dr. Crazy said...

Academama -
I'm sure what you describe is probably at the root of my mom doing this - and I'm also sure that it traces back to the fact that she is one of ten children and that growing up pretty much nothing was just hers.

Kris Peleg said...

buying a house can take all of your energy, time, free brain space. I didn't realize it at the time, but when we bought our house, it seemed like I should be studying for prelims instead. something in my must have known that getting the house thing out of the way, even if it took a month, meant that the next 4 months were freed up in my brain.
so, be good to yourself. it does take energy, and then (hopefully) it will be done and resolved.

Terri said...

i am a regular contestant on the "guess what i mean when i speak nonsense" game show! my mom is here visiting now and i'm constantly working to fill in a word for her or unscramble her statements. LMAO!!