Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Sometimes I wonder why I have a blog, especially since I seem to struggle to find the time to actually blog. The truth is writing requires thinking, and lately my life has become so busy that I just can’t manage to pull it off.

So what’s happening? Well, I’m teaching several classes at the vocational education organisation I work at. There is marking — so much marking! [I went online looking for strategies to help teachers with marking workload and got things back like “Teachers mark instead of having social lives.” I believe it.]

I am also doing a workshop on Pinterest and Instagram next month. I also need to work on course content on topics such as social media, Adobe Illustrator, JavaScript and WordPress for upcoming classes.

On paper my schedule looks quite reasonable. Where it falls apart a bit is when you factor in the commute – waking up at 5:30 am to get ready for a 6:43 am train, then sometimes not getting home until 7:15 pm. Sometimes falling asleep at 9:30 pm and waking up inexplicably at 3 am. Sometimes the time on the train is quite productive. I can fill my Google Nexus tablet with Lynda videos and learn a lot. Other times I just try to stay awake, or listen to music. (Sometimes the trains break down, don’t show up, leave without us, are replaced by buses. One week the trains broke down on two consecutive home trips and it took two hours to get home, about twice as long as normal. Though there were worse things I discovered — a colleague hit a Kangaroo with his car and it did quite a lot of damage to the car.)

Honestly I know people with significantly {longer / tougher / earlier / later} commutes. A dear friend gets a 4 am plane from Melbourne to Sydney once a week. Another friend travels between Wollongong and Sydney on a daily basis. I don’t really know how they manage it. I would’ve gone completely insane by now. But then there was a time I travelled up to Sydney and back every Friday for university (about three hours in either direction), so perhaps I protest too much.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, this is actually the most meaningful work I think I’ve ever done. But I am tired. I am still very much finding my feet. There are days I convince myself I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. But there are other days too. Days where students start to get their heads around those abstract concepts that have hounded them for weeks. Days where they surprise me and themselves with their knowledge and creativity.

For the next two weeks I am on holidays. There is still so much to do but at least I can sleep in and not deal with the trains. Perhaps absence will make the heart grow fonder?

1 comment… add one
  • First, hooray, you’re off! As someone who has graded several hundred essays every semester I teach (I’m lucky to take winters off these last few years) I hear you on all the marking. First time teaching anything is very difficult and prep is time-consuming. Second time you teach a particular skill, it’s only difficult (not very difficult) anprep is slightly less time-consuming. Grading never changes. It is always mind-numbing and time sucking. The most fun (but for me impractical) advice I got as a first year teacher was to watch television while grading. You can do that with mindless grading: quizzes and in-class work that has a did/did not value. But for papers, I have to read them. Less comments ( students don’t read them so I give one positive and one negative and check mark on margin for grammar flaws. If you can, design a final project that students must present aloud. Have a checklist: Did they fill time requirements? Did they stay on topic? Etc. Grade these as they are presented! Give an oral critique so that the whole class learns from each presenter’s mistakes. Too long again, sorry. I feel your pain and also your relief and sense of satisfaction in accomplishing a very complicated job.

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