It’s been over a month since I’ve posted. I’ve been revelling in the first real vacation I feel I’ve had in years. No working on the novel, no thinking about teaching unless absolutely required, not much prep except tweaking course outlines, cutting and pasting course packages, and reading Angela’s Ashes. It’s been a necessary but luxurious break.
On Monday I start a new MEd course, and the following Monday, classes begin. Doing some work on my course outlines this past week has diminished my dread, instead of augmenting it as it sometimes does. I’ll be teaching another new course this semester, this one on the personal narrative, and despite my trepidation about the workload, I’m feeling inspired about the content.
(Even Angela’s Ashes. I’ve been slowly rereading it over the last few months, all the while muttering “What the hell was I thinking?” I am now hopeful, though, that if I break it up into manageable chunks and provide the students with plenty of contextual support, they’ll be able to take it on, and maybe even to like it.)
I meant to do a sort of “post-semester reflection” once last term wound up, but I was too exhausted and too eager to leave it all behind for a while. Now that I have a bit of perspective, I think it was the most productive (although not the easiest) semester I’ve had in a few years. I feel good about what I and my students accomplished, and about how I addressed some of the challenges.
My major insight of the past term concerned attitude and outlook. I would like to take a task I assigned myself at the end of last semester and make it my major task for this one: I will not get annoyed. Concerned, yes, and even angry, but if I find myself getting coldly, meanly, tooth-grindingly annoyed – something I struggle with at least once a day – I will address it, I will do something.
Another task is to try to see the good in everyone. I will meditate on the students I want to choke and will try to find small things about them that charm or at least interest me.
I will remind myself: we are all fundamentally the same, and we all want the same things. That student I can’t stand does the unfathomable and heinous things she does for the same reason I do the things I do: we both just want to be happy, and we don’t know how.
And finally, there’s sunshine. We all have a choice: we can make the world around us dismal and weigh it down with our own crap, or we can shine a little light. In moments when I’m tempted to lash out at everyone, I will try to think of the students, the teachers, and the other people I know who make everything better just by walking into the room. As far as I’m concerned, there is no more noble ambition than to become one of those people.