Teach Thyself

Thanksgiving was lovely, if much too fast. I spent a fair percentage of it just clearing my head and attempting to improve my attitude.

And I’ve been moderately successful. Though I’ve had my moments of extreme grouchitude of late, I’m not quite dumb enough not to recognize all the ways that things remain pretty good. Amazing friends. Supportive family (for the most part, and always when it counts). Fantastic students.

But alongside my recognition of all this fabulousness, I’ve got some regrets. Mostly about my low energy. Or what feels like my low energy, at any rate. Or the ways that that energy has been severely attenuated. Of course, there’s only so much you can stretch a piece of metal before it’s worthlessly thin. And when I get stretched in too many directions, the first thing to go is either exercise or writing, and the second is whichever I managed to hold onto a little while longer. But if that’s still not enough, if I still don’t have enough hours in the day to get everything done, the next thing to go is my teaching.

It’s probably not as bad as I make it sound. But I feel like I’ve been forced to shortchange my classes this semester, in ways that I’m not happy with. This was the semester I really wanted to reconnect with myself as a teacher, to get super-invested in what was happening in the classroom, to attempt to turn what I still think are two exciting course designs into something really dynamic, something that can continue to develop into the future.

There’s tons of evidence to suggest that something’s working this semester, but I worry that it’s in spite of me, rather than because of me. I prepare for my classes as much as I can, but I’m having to improvise way too often, and I worry that I’m not making — or facilitating the making of — all the connections that I could.

And that’s the down side of the gifts that I really have been given here — no matter how much I’ve managed to do, I always feel like I should have done more.

So I’m trying to give myself a bit of a pep talk this evening. There are two full weeks of classes left, and five weeks until December 31, after which point some of this should begin to improve. And in the meantime, I need to teach myself, at long last, that there are real limits to what I can do, limits to how much time and energy I can expend on things in the office. And that there are other things that deserve prioritizing, things that, in the long run, will produce far greater rewards.

One thought on “Teach Thyself

  1. Dear KF,

    I do hope that you improvise some in your classes! it’s essential to keep the “electricity” and the attention of your students. It’s not a sign of failure but of openness.


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