Semester in Review: Sem 2, AY 2017-2018

It’s been awhile, I know.

Trust me when I say that I would have loved to update this space in a more regular manner, but this semester just kicked my butt in a most violent and exhausting manner. Hopefully, by keeping track of what happens every semester (if I remember to do this kind of review at the end of every semester), then I’ll begin seeing patterns and hopefully, some kind of coherence emerges.

In summary, I’ve had 15 units of teaching (3 units overload) spread over five preps, the first MA class I’ve ever taught (aaaaaaaaagh), my first MA thesis advisee graduate (yaaaaaaaaay), and a significant amount of coffee and wine drank in equal measure. I’ve probably had an average of five hours of sleep every night, and enough stress in my body to trigger multiple vertigo episodes throughout the semester, and at least one hypertensive attack (that was super duper fun!) somewhere around March, which sent me to the ER.

Stuff I learned:

  • Five class preps is one class prep too many. True, I took on more than I can chew, and that was totally my fault (because I really wanted to teach that one undergraduate writing class, and I felt really bad for the students who needed that major), but man. That kicked my ass in all sorts of ways, and I’m still recovering from that kind of pace.
  • I should really figure out the right kind of balance in terms of written output that I want from my students. Sometimes, it feels like I give too much, but other times it feels like it’s too little.
  • I’m no longer in my 20s. That was a bit of a kick to the head — this was the first semester when I felt like my bad habits (not sleeping enough, snacking too much, watching too much YouTube, etc.) was really hitting me hard. I really need a bit of a lifestyle change, because otherwise this body’s going to get really tired really soon.

Stuff I liked

  • Can I just say that (most of) my students were amazing! My goodness, I was so proud of them throughout the semester, especially with my writing classes. The quality of their stories was really just a step away from being publishable (and in fact, a couple of them are being worked towards being published) and this just makes me totally proud of them. There’s nothing better than pushing your students and challenging them, and then watching them rise to the occasion and come up with amazing ideas and executing them well. I’m just amazed, I really am.
  • There were a number of lessons this semester where I could feel myself really amping it up and just heading towards particular (unplanned) ideas and insights that I never really thought I could get to. I guess this is where the ease of teaching comes in: when you’ve already gotten to a point where you’re comfortable with the texts and the ideas and you can spend the better part of a session simply allowing it to grow and branch out.

Stuff I need to do better

  • My god, my time management skills is pretty terrible at this point. I think that the me from 2012 will come back and just slap me in the face for this kind of terrible behavior. No matter how pretty my Google Calendar looks like, I still need to be better at simply being good with my time.
  • I also need to learn how to say “no.” I’m a follower of that “say yes to everything” way of thinking, which is great if you’re young and untried and you need every opportunity that goes your way. Right now, I think I need to be smarter with these decisions, and make better choices, and figure out which journeys I want to embark on,
  • I really need to be better with the whole sleeping bit. I can’t keep on going on less than five hours of sleep every night. And this caffeine thing is getting to be problematic.
  • At the end of the day, it’s really all about being conscious about taking care of myself and not giving out so much energy that I’m depleted at the end of the day, with barely enough time to recharge before a new day begins.

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