Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Finding my rhythm

Trying to post something before I run off to get my son from daycare. I'm at that awkward beginning point of the semester when I'm not yet buried in work, although I have plenty to do, and I haven't yet found my rhythm since everything's just getting started. It's taking a lot of my mental energy just to keep track of where I'm supposed to be when.

I have a large backlog of topics I've been meaning to tackle here, but right now most of them exist in fragmentary draft form, if they've even made it that far. As I mentioned yesterday, academic work tends to sap my creativity, so it will be interesting to see if it has a similar effect on my postings. Although my summer included a certain amount of school-related work, the volume was nowhere near what now looms.

A result of the lack of rhythm and onset of creativity-suck is that I am in the middle of Doubting What I Am Doing. As I come out of a new seminar, I say to myself, "Is this really what I want to spend a semester on?" As I stand in front of my class, not yet knowing their names, not quite into the meat of the subject yet, not even knowing how many of them will stick around, I think to myself, "Am I reaching them? Can I actually teach them this stuff?" As I look at the assignment I have for a class I have not yet attended, I wonder, "Can I stay motivated to keep on top of this?"

I look at all of the new graduate student in our program, dewy-eyed, professing how excited they are about this year, putting a positive spin on every aspect of the program, pontificating on their love of the intellectual pursuit. I know some of this is the novelty and some of it may be posturing, trying to say the right things. I also know some of them truly mean it and academia is their lives. So I have to remind myself that this is not me, that I know what I want out of my program and have come to terms with the fact that my subject is not the end-all, be-all in my life (oh, so far from it).

In another couple of weeks, my schedule will be etched on my brain. I will have my rhythm and move between classes and activities without too much thought. I will move past my doubts and forget what it was like to have enough free time that I slightly resent losing it.



Lisa b said...

I'm fresh from grad school so I will just remind you that not all students will take what you want from the course but all will take something. You are an important part in them figuring out who they are whatever it is they take from you.

Mouse said...

The professor I'm teaching this course with made an observation yesterday that really put a positive spin on what we were doing with them. We haven't really gotten to the meat of the course, but hit upon a few things in the introductory material (a major part of which I handled that day). As we headed back to the department, he said, "I think that was very useful and something that they will probably carry with them. Few of these students will still be studying this subject even 2 or 3 years down the line. But even if they dropped the course today, they'll have learned something that can really make a difference in their ability to present themselves as educated." It's a nice thought I can carry with myself for the semester.

Lisa b said...

Wow what a cool Prof.
I think that is totally what you have to carry with you at the University level.
I teach highschool so you get more of a chance to see your impact on students.
I know you are busy with the Mighty Machines now but If you care to share the wisdom of your class I'd love to hear it.

Mouse said...

When I was teaching junior high and high school, I really liked being able to observe how the students grew and improved.

The lesson we were teaching had to do loosely with linguistics and how words from our subject come into and change in English, both in spelling and pronunciation. It's not something that will make an enormous difference in their understanding of our subject, but it could be quite useful in everyday life. Nothing major, but one of those nice moments of connecting the classroom with real life.

Lisa b said...

I hate to miss a good lecture.
I think I am going to start my Phd just so I can go to classes.