Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Teaching / Studenting Plan

This upcoming semester, which begins next week, I'm teaching two classes at the most convenient-to-me campus. I have a good teaching schedule: two classes, twice a week, the first of which begins at 11:30 a.m., the second of which ends at 3:50 p.m., with about a 90-minute break in between. I could come home if I'd like to, between classes, since this particular campus is only about 3 1/2 miles away, but I might just stay on campus, pack my lunch, and work or mentally decompress. I'll see how I feel.

My first semester at SLCC, I taught a 7 a.m. class at the South City campus (just over 13 miles away; half an hour drive across the valley); my second class began at 5:30 p.m. at the main campus, so it was an odd schedule. I jumped at the chance, though, because it was my first semester and I was of the mindset that I'd grab whatever was available and be happy about it, because it was only twice a week, and I did have quite a lot of time in between. Once or twice I'd come home from my morning class just as Ed was leaving for work, and then leave for my evening class just as he was getting home. And to be honest, I was so delighted to have an actual teaching job, that I really was happy to teach whatever was available, wherever it was. This also gave me a sense of the different ambience of different campuses; I don't think I've been inside the South City campus since my last class there.

In any case, last semester I was overwhelmed. I was teaching three classes at two different campuses, tutoring for four hours on Friday afternoons, and taking three graduate-level classes. I believe I only subbed once during that time, because if one doesn't sub at least once every three months, one loses one's position within the district, and one would then need to reapply. This wouldn't be a catastrophe, of course, but it would be inconvenient. Fortunately, the classes I was teaching were at the two most convenient campuses - the main campus and the Jordan campus; I did my tutoring at the Jordan campus, and rarely did any students actually come in for tutoring. I was still overwhelmed, though, and for most of the semester I worked, prepped, and/or studied seven days a week. I'm sure there are others who could handle this much better than I and not feel as inundated as I did. Fortunately, I'd taught the English class I teach for several semesters, so I had a feel for the pacing (unlike the first semester at a new school, or teaching a new class for the first time, which requires a bit more preparation). And I did manage to get an A in each of my graduate-level classes, but I don't think I can maintain that level of work for an extended period of time.

This semester I'll only be teaching two classes. I'm taking a break from tutoring, although I'd like an occasional day of substituting so that I'll still be in their pool of substitutes. I am, however, taking another three graduate classes. They're not literature classes, which, as much as I love to read, I found difficult to manage. Literature is not one of my professional interests, and I really don't know why I didn't consider taking electives from one of the other English department programs - it just didn't occur to me, because I'd so gotten in the mindset of literature-classes-as-default.

This semester I'll be taking two classes that fulfill core requirements (Argumentation: Classical through Contemporary, and Literacy and Teaching Writing), and one class that fulfills an elective requirement (Professional Editing, one of the Professional Writing classes). The Professional Writing class runs for an entire semester, while the other two are more intensive seven-week classes that don't run at the same time: One runs for the first seven weeks, and the other runs the last seven weeks. These will be different academic focuses that I think may help me more directly with my teaching, and will cause me to really stretch and push myself. I got some of that last semester, but it was difficult to consistently answer questions that related to how I would incorporate literature or literary theory into my classes. (One can definitely do this, but to a different degree in writing classes than in literature classes.)

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