Best. Teacher. EVAR.

Now that I’ve been at this teaching thing for about 2 weeks, I’m starting to get used to our new schedule, but it’s not ideal.  T gets up between 4 and 6 am, gets ready, kisses me goodbye, and heads off to work.  I roll out of bed somewhere between 8 and 9 am, get dressed and have breakfast.  I spend the morning making sure I have everything ready for class, which includes making PowerPoint presentations, polishing my lesson plans, grading homework, transferring all the files I’ll need for that night to my thumb drive, and checking 3 different email accounts (personal, work, and the one I made for my students).  Once that is done, I can worry about doing my daily job search (since I am still claiming unemployment as an underemployed part-time instructor), checking Facebook (of course!) or blogging, running errands or walking the dogs, and keeping on top of things around the house like laundry and dishes.  I try to skip lunch these days, maybe skating by with a piece of fruit or a small snack, because I need to start making dinner by about 3 pm.  There are also a few text messages during the day, where T and I check in with each other and make sure we’re both alive.  I eat half of the dinner I cooked, put the remainder on a plate in the fridge for T, and head out the door to school by 4:30 at the latest.

Class starts at 5:30 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, and at 6 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I get paid for an office hour of sorts, so I ensure that I am available on campus half an hour before each class.  When I get there, I spend a few minutes in the parking lot lint-rolling the dog hair off me.  I’m sure any staff and students who see me think I’m insane, but oh well.  Then I need to check my emails again, print out my lesson plan and other teaching materials, and make copies of anything I need to hand out.  A short hike across the parking lot to the annex will get me into the classroom the required 10 minutes before class starts, so that the laptop is started up, the projector is on, and my SmartBoard is calibrated before my students show up.  I teach until 9:50 pm, put the laptop away, hike back across the parking lot to turn in my class roster, and drive home, getting there around 10:15 pm.

When I open the garage door, I am usually greeted by the dogs, and go upstairs to change out of my work clothes before they get too much more dog hair on them.  T is already in bed, snoring like a hibernating bear, with a light left thoughtfully on in the bathroom for me.  I change into pjs, and head back downstairs to unwind in front of the TV until 11:30 or midnight, with T’s snores wafting downstairs for accompaniment.  I sneak into bed next to T, and then the whole cycle starts all over again.  Until Friday, when I can do whatever I want all day, and I get to see by husband when he gets home from work, usually somewhere around 7 or 8 pm.

I guess it could be worse: I could be living in a hotel room in Nevada for 10 days at a time, and only get to see him 4 days a month, instead of 12.  (I’m also hoping that the combination of one less meal plus 4 hours of standing and pacing each day will result in some weight loss that I don’t have to put any real effort into.  But we’ll see if that actually happens. )

The classes themselves are still pretty hit-or-miss, too.  I seem to have more success with my Strategies class, where I only have 4 students.  The class is based on discussion of topics like priorities, reading skills, and managing exam anxiety, and I have a few talktative students who do a good job of keeping the ball rolling.  I can usually stretch conversations if I overestimated the amount of time certain activities would take, and everyone is engaged and usually having a good time.  The homework assignments are fairly easy, and everyone does them.

My computer class is a whole other story.  Some days I have too much work for them to do; other days I have too little.  As I walk everyone through performing functions in MS Office, some people get it right away, while others struggle, so I know there is a lot of time spent sitting there either waiting for the next command or falling behind and feeling completely lost.  Several students regularly show up late, as much as 40 minutes into class.  One girl always leaves 30 minutes early so that she can get to work.  There’s a lot of confusion, when students don’t follow instructions, and I have to demonstrate what they are doing wrong one-on-one.  Even written directions aren’t read and followed.  Some students constantly complain about the work and ask for ways do get around doing the work.  At least half of the class is just not turning in any homework, and I suspect that they are ignoring me in class as well, and spending their time on Facebook.  I try not to take it all personally, but it’s hard; I feel responsible for keeping everyone learning and motivated, and it’s hard to do.

One of the biggest obstacles to teaching this class was the fact that I didn’t have Office 2007 at home!  That meant I couldn’t practice or adapt my lesson plans from home.  I asked if the college would give me a license, but they said no.  So I finally just decided to buy the update and call it a business expense on my taxes.  Hopefully being able to spend more time running through the lessons at home will make my life, and my class, a lot easier and better!

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