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Spring 2016

Sunday: August 21, 2016

This last semester, several changes were in place to help protect me from the trials of the previous semester “from hell”.

One, the university I taught online for accidentally didn’t list my class in the appropriate section so it was cancelled. While my chair was very apologetic, I practically threw a party over the good news. One less thing to worry about. I’ve since spoken with him about not teaching again any time soon (I hate online classes, both as a former student of them, and now as a teacher). No problemo.

Second, since I was excited for my line-up (two intro physical courses again, archaeology, and ancient burials), I actually got quite a lot completed over winter break. Everything was pretty much set up until spring break. The plan was to work diligently throughout those first few weeks, then really work hard during the break to make it last until the end of the semester.

Unfortunately, the plan was not followed through. The first excuse is that I was still coping with being overly burnt out. During those first few weeks, I just vegged out, but at least it included having fun again and actually spending time with my husband and cats. The second excuse is that I left for spring break for an archaeological project. I know, right? Stupid. Boy said as much, but I needed to get away somehow. And idiotically, I convinced myself that since I was reading and making lectures on the fly all last semester with classes I didn’t care about, so that doing so after spring break with classes that I did enjoy wouldn’t be that troublesome. “You’ll see!” I said.

Of course, the problem of being burnt out was never gone. It only got worse. I had to make decisions. I decided that on Thursdays, after class, there would be zero work. These would be days that Boy would come home early and we would go out to eat. That was very helpful. Another decision, one that I was forced to make, was to let one of my classes take a back seat. Since I had already taught archaeology before, it won that place.

This was very unfortunate, as the first time I taught the class, I was new and not very confident in archaeology (this was before I had had much field experience and earned my qualified professional status). The lectures were super-dull and sometimes did not match the new (and amazingly better) textbook I selected. Oh well. Students didn’t need to know that I could have been awesome; that was a goal I strived for but if they didn’t know I wasn’t giving my all, what was the trouble? (But, did they know? Surely!)

See, I had begun losing my worth ethic. Little did I know how far gone it could go.

But we still did fun things: a lab or two was worth it, we met outside of class for a pedestrian survey, and my colleague came up to add a change of pace with digging STPs on campus. And at the end, we had an ethics discussion that I think all those who attended (only half of the ten enrolled) really enjoyed. I had the club invite a native speaker to talk about NAGPRA and I invited someone from DNR to talk about the legal side of archaeology.

My other class, ancient burials, included half anthro majors and half other kids. It was tough, because I had high expectations. It was evident almost no one was doing the readings (which is funny because my lectures were not from the readings, but the readings were required for their final papers; fools?). I feel like that class went way better than I expected, even if the students were disappointing me left and right. From missing assignments, to failed quizzes, to fully and completely plagiarized papers, I was upset. But, their grades not mine, right?

I had a guest speaker talk about her work in Sicily, and the students had a cemetery project to complete where we all met at a local one, they collected gravestone data, and compared it to a cemetery of their choice. I was impressed with that aspect of their work. One, they all actually came to the cemetery, and two, most of them did a pretty thorough job when they went to go collect their own data. Although it did not play out like I had hoped, overall, I think that class was a success and I would teach it again after some heavy tweaking.

My evaluations rolled in and my into classes remained high. My other classes were mediocre. One student comment made me pretty irate and scoff at how “they don’t deserve me as a teacher”. I’m sorry, but my expectations for the length and quality of a paper is not too high for a 300 level course. I made that class practically impossible to do poorly in to save my own sanity. How dare they:P

On a side note, one of my students was struggling and missing class a lot and finally admitted he got into some legal trouble by hanging around the wrong group of new friends. A real shame that I saw his face plastered across news sites over the summer once some serious charges were pressed. No one explained to me that teaching would be bad for my empathy. That seems to be a lesson I learn over and over again.

All summer I debated on whether or not I would renew my contract, given the chance. I oscillated back and forth so many times I got dizzy. I always knew I would say yes, of course, but there was some deep inner searching happening, for sure. When my boss approved my easier schedule for this coming year, I accepted the position when offered. Fall 2016 should be much easier on me personally. We’ll see – it begins Monday.

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  1. If you have a break from teaching, you should visit Japan.

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