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Stumbling toward the finish line …

April 18, 2018

I’m still doing ok, but it’s been harder and harder this semester to be my best at teaching, partially because I’m just so physically, cognitively and emotionally tired. Some days I feel fine, but I’m also struggling to make decisions effectively, especially in real time. Even with just speaking, I’m having bouts of aphasia that come and go. I’ve said this before, but I find it hard to be focused on both curriculum and instruction. For me instruction requires careful attention to ongoing events. When my mind is spending too much energy keeping track of curricular aspects, there is just not sufficient resources allocated to attend to what’s going on. Furthermore, so much time spent organizing curriculum leaves with too little time to think carefully through execution and to rehearse key points and transitions. I like to rehearse as much as I can, honestly, and I’m getting very little rehearsal time.

Finally, I often spend a lot of time outside of class thinking about individual students and whole class dynamics. I email students who have missed class. I notice and strategize about groups that have got into a rut. I think crucially about specific issues of motivation, confidence, engagement, and plan accordingly. Many of their issues get put on the back burner when there’s too much curricular stuff I’m minding to.

Finally, some of it is emotional fatigue. I care about students, but sustained acts of caring require some emotional well to draw from. I’m not quite finding enough ways to fill my bucket as quickly as it gets depleted. Because of this, I’m prone to disengage a bit in class. While I would always circulate around during clicker questions, I’ve noticed more and more I hang back. It’s like there’s an activation barrier I can’t quite always get over.

This semester will soon be over, and I will take some time to recharge and refocus. I’ll also be attending a few conferences this summer, so I’m hoping to make the most of those to reconnect with colleagues and friend, and to re-energize.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Andy "SuperFly" Rundquist permalink
    April 18, 2018 11:28 am

    First, you’re awesome and one of the people who really motivates me to be a better teacher. Second, thank you so much for articulating your thinking even in these lower points, we all benefit from reading how you think about it and make plans for moving forward. Third, you’re still awesome and I really hope to see you at one of those conferences.

    • April 18, 2018 11:36 am

      Thanks Andy. I will be so excited to see you this summer.

  2. April 18, 2018 4:59 pm

    You just inspired me to register for AAPT! Very much hoping to see you there.

  3. grace permalink
    April 19, 2018 2:52 pm

    i know the feeling of being depleted yet having to keep going for a while longer, and i also know that your writing and thinking and blogging brings me much energy and joy so (if physics— or metaphysics— allows) i’m sending some energy and peace your way!

    • April 19, 2018 4:11 pm

      Thanks Grace! Fortunately your not having to send that energy too far, right?

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