Two Weeks into Winter Vacation

I wish I had the money and wont carelessness to have planned a nice vacation over winter break. But, alas, I have two goals that are more important to achieve this year: have zero credit card debt (done) and amass half a year’s worth of living expenses for NYC before May (not even close).

So during my staycation thus far, I’ve done a semester’s worth of sleeping, which quickly changed from midnight to 6 am (during the semester) to 3 am to noon. I’ve also caught up on seasons of Lie to Me on Netflix and Fringe on Hulu.

I have written only two poems. (I did, though, submit my work to several journals that take electronic submissions. Ink, paper, and stamps are too costly.) My body does not know what to do with itself. It’s not used to “rest.” Last year, I toured southeast Asia for three weeks and the entire country for a month. My staycation just feels like a bust. I haven’t even maintained my exercise regimen (running, pilates). (In my defense, the holidays shut down my free gym at the cc, and it’s been a blustery below-freezing week.)

I’m getting antsy, yet I cannot seem to get myself out of pajamas and do something productive. I’ve put in zero hours on my course prep for next semester. I have four preps. As alluded to in my previous post, I did, in fact get the fifth class at campus #4 (Comp II). I’ll be whoring myself at four campuses next semester instead of two. I have a shit ton of work to do.

Today, I attempted to wake up before noon and get started on prep work, but I ended up reading poetry and getting trapped in the cyberlinks to chapbook publishing. I also spent a couple of hours on Facebook and subsequent external links. I did check off one to-do item: signing up for Interfolio, a dossier service and emailing references.

Around midnight or so, my brain decided to focus on tasks: adding published articles to my CV, which led me to updating my Goodreads bookshelves (because of a book review I wrote) for another couple of hours. Tomorrow, I need to re-instate my LinkedIn account. I guess getting my cyberworld in order is productive?

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The End of the Semester: Reflection

As expected, I’ve gone through a steep learning curve this semester. I won some battles: I managed to successfully complete the semester with the amount of workload that I had. My students at campus #2 wanted to sign up for my class next semester. I did not go easy on them, so this was a good sign. And, after submitting my electronic grades to the English Chair at campus #2, he informed me that I could have a Comp 2 class next semester because enrollment was higher than expected. I had to cancel one class at the community college (developmental writing) that I so desperately accepted after the chairs reneged on the Business Writing class, but this is how the game of adjuncts goes. Schedules change. I signed no contracts.

I did lose other battles, though: I did not receive good feedback from my Honors Freshman Composition students at campus #1. Perhaps I’d expected too much out of them, and I did not offer enough guidelines or lectures. As per Honors College tradition, these classes are “collaborative” as opposed to “lecture-based.” Essentially, they read the material and provided a “reader’s response,” and we discussed relevant points in class. Additionally, I overestimated their knowledge of grammar, and I had to essentially provide one-on-one consultations about mechanics. I was advised by the Writing Director that I should probably add an element of “teacher input” to make the experience for them more meaningful, as they tend to miss the importance of collaborative learning.

Another issue was grading. I did not do much to quell their anxieties about what grades they were to receive. Because the essays at the end of the semester (Critical Analysis and Research) were weighed heavier, I felt that giving mid-term grades would be misleading. But these students did not do particularly well on their Persuasive or Critical Analysis, so many of them were worried about their final grades. I should have emphasized that other work, such as freewrites, reader’s responses, group work, workshops, and participation would help boost their grades, given that they completed these successfully.

One class out of 5 is not bad. I’m teaching two sections of Honors Freshman Comp next semester, so I have some work to do in re-designing the syllabus/course.

So far I have 3 preps for the spring semester: Honors Freshman Comp, Comp 2, and Technical Writing. I’m considering adding a 4th, as I have an interview at another private university (evening program, quarter system) on Monday. I’m not sure for what yet, but I’d like to get a literature class.