Sunday, October 11, 2009

Exhausting Week

(This is a post in which I whine; you have been forewarned.)

My job normally consumes a lot of my waking hours. After spending my time with students and colleagues all day long, I come home to spend some time with my family. However, there is always more work to do than there are hours during the work day to complete it--so if I am not too tired to stay up, I crack out the laptop and work into the night; and if I inadvertently slip into an exhaustion-induced coma, I wake myself up early in the morning to get some work done before showering, dressing, and returning to the office for another day.

There are times, though, when the hours that I spend on my job are even more insane than usual, and this past week was a good example.

We've got students intending to graduate in the spring who had to meet a Thursday deadline for completing their portfolios (of their best work in several required categories, maintained in an electronic format online), and I had to read several of those, each one taking several hours to read and comment on.

I teach one course for which students spend two non-consecutive weeks in area schools, teaching alongside a cooperating teacher in order to practice and develop their teaching skills before having to pre-service teach (often called student-teaching at other universities) for an entire semester. At the end of each day, each student e-mails me a reflective log, and I read it and e-mail back my comments so that we can engage electronically in a conversation throughout the week. This was one of the weeks that those students were out in the local schools, so I had those e-mails to read and respond to each night, each set taking several hours.

At the same time, I had my regular duties of teaching courses, supervising my assigned pre-service teachers (student-teachers) in area schools, advising students, and attending meetings for the various committees upon which I serve. One set of meetings--a new obligation this semester--is both a blessing and a curse. Our department has the opportunity to participate in an exciting grant-funded initiative, but it has required many hours of research and planning by all of us in the department--and these meetings have been squeezed into our already busy weekly schedules (including an evening meeting with area teachers and administrators on Tuesday).

This is how things played out for me this past week:
  • Sunday: read portfolios from 3:30 P.M. to midnight (with an hour break for supper)
  • Monday: prep for my classes and reply to my students' daily reflective e-mails from 9:oo P.M. to 4:00 A.M. Tuesday
  • Tuesday: in addition to the hours above: reply to my students' daily e-mails from 7:30 P.M. to midnight
  • Wednesday: reply to my students' daily e-mails from 5:30 to 7:00 A.M. and again from 7:00 P.M. to 4:45 A.M. Thursday
  • Thursday: in addition to the hours above: after Abigail's music program (remember?), work for an hour and then pass out
  • Friday: reply to my students' daily e-mails from 3:00 to 7:00 A.M. and then spend all day driving around the region to visit students teaching in outlying schools: South Heart, New England, Richardton, and Killdeer
  • Saturday: reply to my students' daily e-mails, grade tests, and prep for my classes from 5:00 A.M. to 12:45 A.M. Sunday
  • Sunday: in addition to the 45 minutes above: grade students' assignments and prep for my classes from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.

I had so much to do that I skipped church this morning; and Susan agreed to prepare Scandinavian Saturday supper on her own while I worked yesterday. Here's what she made last night (very delicious, btw):

  • ertesuppe ["split pea soup" using a ham bone from a ham that she baked the other night]
  • smørbrød ["open-faced sandwiches" using fresh bread that she baked and then spread with an egg salad to which she added cubed ham and cucumbers]
  • eple melboller ["apple dumplings" drizzled in a powdered sugar/apple juice glaze and served with Schwan's vanilla ice cream]

So thank you, Family, for your patience and accommodation during these crazy weeks of the semester. The girls see me sitting at the computer when they go to bed and again when they wake up, and they ask if I even went to bed at all . . . and sometimes the answer is "no." My body isn't in love with my too-few hours of sleep or with my irregular schedule of when I get to sleep and when I wake up, but so far it has kept me healthy despite it all. Here's hoping for a return to (relative) sanity for a while--at least until the next week that all my students go back to teach in their assigned schools . . .


  1. It has been crazy -- we'll keep our fingers crossed for a more "normal" schedule in the next few weeks!

  2. Did you re-introduce yourself at any point during all this under-paid, over-worked schedule?