12 January 2012

First Day Reflections

Yesterday marked my first day back to work after nearly a month off for winter break.  My schedule this term is as about as pared down as I can possibly get - I teach two fifty-minute classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are totally free.

Homeschooling the twelve-year-old has taken more time than I thought.  He writes his daily assignments in his planner, and at the end of the day, I grade/score all of it.  Often, he's got redo work for the next day. 

Way back in August, the above plan seemed like a good one.  I assumed he would work, he would take his time, he would do it correctly, and he would learn lots.  And don't get me wrong, all of that is happening...like I said, he does a lot of revising.  I didn't like waiting until late in the afternoon to check his progress...by the time five o'clock rolled around both he and I were ready for school to be doe (and be with the rest of the family).  Consequently, there are some things I "fell off the wagon" on (i.e. grammar).  He took the whole month of November and December to participate in NaNoWriMo with me...but then, I didn't keep him very accountable.  I looked for shortcuts here and there to keep my homeschool work at a minimum.

Had I just morphed into public school, then?  Not to mention, because I worked every day at the college, there was no time for a field trip...something I said we'd do.  So, yeah, by the time, mid-December rolled around, I felt like the lazy homeschool mom.  In addition, and I think I've mentioned it before, I've been having work motivation issues...which contributed to that general sense of slackness.

So, I told my boss that I would like to only teach on MWF.  I rationalized that with two days open a week, I've have time to plan, to grade, or to travel with Spencer.  Also, home managements tasks would occur on those days too.  The other three days would be work, office hours, and business.  On a professional level, though, I told myself that if I couldn't get excited enough to work two hours a day, three days a week, then I was going to forgo this education career and look for something I was passionate about.

So...here we go...to make a long story short, I've just got the first day of work out of the way.  Only thirty-some class meetings left to go.  The first day of class is always kind of a drag - going over the rules, the grading, the schedule, etc.  It's a lot of me talking, setting the tone, etc.  For my upper-level American Literature class, I was a bit disconcerted to see that out of six students, only two had purchased the book.  Yes, yes, most students figure (and they're right) that teachers won't dig into the texts on the first day of class...but still?  I did actually reference parts of the books, and my efforts were just a little bit in vain.  My second class, a freshman-level Composition 2 class, went as usual.  My colleagues and I restructured this class a little - in hopes of increasing accountability - and it's an exciting change, but definitely more demanding for the students.  I ended yesterday's class with a homework assignment; students were to respond, electronically, to an email of mine with any questions or concerns. 

Not a difficult assignment, but a rather telling one.  I received my first response about twenty minutes ago.  I know college students are notorious for procrastinating, but usually, I can count on one or two ambitious ones to do an assignment nearly right after I give it.  Hm.

So, yeah, ultimately, I'm not wowed yet.  But two things to remember: it is just the first day, and I've got a totally different set of glasses on through which I'm viewing this semester.  After all, it's likely my last...as a teacher, that is.

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