Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Looming Misery: When Life and Teaching Collide.

Say that you had agreed to teach a remedial writing class in Spring. I mean, you taught it in the Fall, and survived, so at least the prep. is mostly done.

Even though you need to revise the syllabus, because it turned out you were teaching the wrong material (I would link to the post, but it seems to have gone with Academic Mizery to the bottom of the muck, never to be seen or heard from again. I'll throw it in the comments if anyone cares).

So you sign the contract, take the overload (Woo! Money!), and work on other things, like the job you were hired to do, waiting for the class (it's an 8 week course) to start. And then, one thing after another happens in your non-work life.

You leave your partner of over a decade, because you have the sudden realization that the PATTERN was never going to change, and, to mangle a cliche, you care more about their happiness than they do.

So. Class starts the first week of March. You found a new apartment. Your lease starts March 1. You have started dividing out the DVD's and cookware, and laundry baskets, and graphic novels. You comfort yourself that you will never need to move their stack of porn magazines from the 1990's again, or clean their beard hair out of the sink.

And only now does it occur to you: You teach as an overload on top of your 40 hours a week job. And now you have to move WHILE teaching a writing intensive class, and prepping new material that you haven't taught before.

Also, you've decided to stop drinking for a while.

Well then. This will be... fun?

--Madame Librarian


  1. Sometimes things are... endurable.

    I wish you all the best.

  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WAwuSK36Gw

    Seriously, 1990s porn?

    Good luck!

    1. Yes, seriously! I packed those darn things into boxes and moved them 4 times, and tripped over them more times than I can count.

  3. You've got this, Madame Librarian! Keeping busy is good for a breakup, especially if you can't drink.

    1. I'll definitely be busy!

  4. "The only way out is through" they say.

    Students tell us about their personal problems all the time; we don't have the same privilege.

  5. Sounds like the kind of period which you do, indeed, get through, but can't quite remember how you did afterward. I've had a few of those, but unfortunately I can't remember quite how I got through them, because, well, see above.

    I do remember accepting help, food, comfort, etc. from friends when offered. Hope you have a few of those to lean on (in addition to the virtual cheering section here, which is useful, but there's a lot to be said for non-virtual friends).

    1. I do have a good group of in-person friends, who I have made a point of reconnecting with. But the virtual cheering section is deeply affirming.

      You all know exactly how much this is going to suck, and I'm oddly grateful for that.

  6. Thank you all, as always, for your kind words. For the complete record, I'm adding the text of the "teaching the wrong class" below.

    The Duck and I might need to flee town quickly

    I discovered yesterday that I have been teaching the wrong class.

    Wait, that’s not quite right. I’ve been teaching the correct students, but the wrong material.

    I was asked at the last minute to teach a class, which I normally do seldom. But I have this undergraduate degree in English, and that qualifies me to teach a compressed remedial Writing II class. The chair was desperate not to teach it, so I agreed to do so. (Money, honey, and I just major unexpected expenses).

    But what I had was the textbook and the syllabus of the compressed remedial Writing I class to figure out what to teach. So, I looked at that, and it said Chapters 1-16 of the textbook, so I started with chapter 17. We’ve been at this for 7 weeks (of 8). The chair had begged me to do remedial Writing I next semester, and I’ve, with some misgivings, agreed.

    The chair dropped off the textbook for that class yesterday, and I noticed that this book had a slightly different title. Imagine it is “The Same Title of the Text I’ve Been Teaching from: With a Different Subtitle.” And this textbook has THE SAME chapters, just in the opposite order.

    So, I’ve taught my students the wrong material. And at this point, there is NOTHING to be done.

    The only consolations I have are:
    1) They clearly needed it, even the students who took Writing I, because I gave them all diagnostic writing samples the first class, and they were making the mistakes that were in the material I covered.
    2) I gave a ton of feedback on things I thought they had already covered, like structure, and organization, and types of paragraphs; I believe in reinforcing old lessons.
    3) They are better writers than when I started.
    4) I didn’t violate the course description, which is the vaguest thing ever.

    But I can’t help but feel like I have failed my students.

    Madame Librarian