it’s the first week i’ve felt like i can breathe in months. last week, for example, i literally did nothing but sleep and work, with more of the latter consuming the time. i slept on the couch every night, and would wake up and flip open my lap top to keep going until i couldn’t work anymore. i had no food in my house, and no time to shop, let alone cook, so i ordered food to be delivered every day. dominos boxes piled up several feet high as i plugged through grading hundreds of papers and setting up my winter course which is, fortunately, online.
the good news is that i successfully taught my two courses…two courses that amounted to over 150 students. having gone from being completely dysfunctional over the summer to providing a level of instruction i’m proud of, all while remaining stable and fulfilling most of my other obligations as well, is something i’m extraordinarily happy about. i was pretty concerned that i would just completely fail or collapse, but i’m glad to say that that fear was not realized.
i gave myself permission to limit my real responsibilities to teaching those two courses. i put research on hold, as well as several other personal goals that i would like to pursue. i needed to see that i could function again. i needed to rebuild my confidence that was completely shattered over the summer, when i found myself unable to finish sentences, follow conversations, or think at any complex level.
i wasn’t perfect. grades lagged, often way too long to be fair to students. sometimes i didn’t respond to questions in time. i’m sure several students were pretty annoyed with me at times. i accepted that too, and promised myself that i would do better next time.
the important part was that i successfully designed and implemented an online class, despite its being my first time teaching online. i’m actually pretty proud of how well i structured the class, and with the assignments i created (although i definitely created too many). it was such a pleasure to get to observe learning in an online environment, and to see my students engage with the material. i really feel that my students learned a *lot* in that class.
i also taught my first large lecture class at the community college. i remember visiting the room before classes began, and my stomach dropped at the size of the room. my previous classes were quite small, ranging from 10-20 people. this room had a capacity that could accommodate over 70 students. i was able to create an atmosphere that encouraged a lot of discussion despite the large class size, and students gave me a lot of positive feedback about the class and my instruction.
when i received negative feedback, i listened sincerely but also kept in mind that major transition that i was making in being able to actually function. the standard of comparison was not being a perfect teacher; it was being a capable one. it was relative to my functionality over the summer, so i could have done much worse and still have been successful.
happily, i wasn’t just adequate. i was awesome.