Honoring My Inner Weasel, Part III

As failures go, this one’s not catastrophic. Not so much crash and burn as bump and simmer. No cause for flailing and wailing–but maybe a little hand flutter and throat clearing would be in order.

I just posted an Excel spreadsheet for all my students to see, showing how promptly I’m returning student work this semester. After three semesters of being right around or below an average of a week, I’m currently returning student written work, on average, 9.7 days after they’ve turned it in. For my ENG 102 (Advanced Composition) classes, the longer essays are taking me 10.25 days.

There are seven full weeks of the semester to go, and then finals, so if I’m on top of things, the numbers should be below 7 by the end of the semester.

But I’m disappointed.

And not giving up! This failure to meet my goals (I wanted to be under 7) comes along with some other failures (subject for future blog posts, thank you very much, but I don’t want to depress myself by listing all my failures here).

There are some basic reasons the numbers are worse this semester. I have a lot more students, for one thing, and I decided to start using D2L rubrics (D2L is our “course delivery platform” for the UW Colleges–online resources for me & my students) for ENG 102 papers. I also decided to start doing reading quizzes regularly for the first time in ENG 102, and I’m doing those as D2L Quizzes. I’m also doing D2L quizzes for my literature class (did I mention I’ve used D2L quizzes only a little previously, and never where students were required to use them?) and I’m asking my creative writing students to turn in portfolios online so I can grade them digitally, which in turn motivated me to turn my regular rubric into an Excel spreadsheet so the math gets done automatically and I can post it on D2L with the commented-on digital copy of their portfolio….

As always, there was some procrastination involved. But not as much as there would have been in the past. For example, being able to post feedback for each student online means that I was motivated to finish grading assignments in all three classes at the beginning of spring break, rather than waiting until the end. If I’d been grading paper copies, and couldn’t return them until March 26, I would probably be grading this weekend instead of last weekend. (Not that students were checking their campus email during spring break, but they might have–they could have, in any case.)

But I’m realizing that one of my biggest problems is not so much procrastination as trying to do too many things. Here’s what I’d like to do each and every semester:

  • Teach well.
  • Revise my courses (heavily) in terms of reading and assignments.
  • Do a decent amount of committee work (my share or perhaps slightly more or less, depending on a number of factors).
  • Write a lot of poetry.
  • Send a lot of poems out to magazines.
  • Reassemble my poems into chapbooks and full-length manuscripts and submit to multiple publishers.
  • Write fiction. Submit to publishers.
  • Write plays. Ask for feedback.
  • Revise what I’ve written.
  • Do scholarly work on creativity.
  • Work on a chapter for a scholarly book on creativity.
  • Raise funds for a sabbatical (well, that’s not EVERY semester).
  • Spend as much time as possible with my son.
  • Spend as much time as possible with my husband.
  • Spend as much time as possible with my parents.
  • Maintain friendships.
  • Volunteer in my community.
  • (Insert 75 things I’m sure I’ve forgotten to list, HERE).
  • Be a mellow, laid-back person.
  • Get a good night’s sleep regularly.
  • Work an average of 40 hours a week during my contract period.

What’s crazy is how much of that I try to do. What’s amazing is how much I end up getting done.  But here’s the thing–I’m pretty tired of feeling like no matter how much I work, I’m always behind and there’s always more to do.

So.  The math is pretty easy in this case. Doesn’t even need a spreadsheet. There are 24 hours in every day. There are nine months in my work contract. The work contract thing has been true for me for 20+ years. The 24 hour thing has been true a very long time.

So, the answer is simple, right? I need to set my priorities and be firm about them and not apologize. Unfortunately, there’s not a spreadsheet that can show me how to do that.

3 responses to “Honoring My Inner Weasel, Part III

  1. CORRECTION: I’m actually teaching four classes this semester–the ENG 102 sections are all together online, so that’s why I was thinking three. But it really is four. Or, if it’s three, it’s a lit. class with 36 students, a creative writing class with 13, and one composition class with 42.

  2. Mrs. D.,
    I am sitting here applauding you and trying to make my head stop spinning after reading your to do list! I agree with you 150%, you most definitely have way too much on your plate. I know all too well about setting priorities and how God laughs when you tell Her your plans…Take it from someone who has buried both parents and whose only child now lives out of state, spend as much time as you can with your loved ones now, while you have the opportunity. Life, in itself, is a temporary situation and no one is promised tomorrow.

  3. “But here’s the thing–I’m pretty tired of feeling like no matter how much I work, I’m always behind and there’s always more to do.” Oh wow, do I resemble this statement, Marnie!

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