School

In Full Swing

Well, the Fall semester is in full swing. We’ve had our first rained out home football game, I’ve had to rearrange the seating charts in all three classes, and I’ve already written five referrals.  Welcome to secondary education.

When school started I told my students my year’s goal was to not write one referral. Well that was shot straight to hell when the principal announced that every time a student is late they get a referral. Very nice. Thank you first block.

Overall, things are good at the new school. The faculty is made up of predominately young teachers. This means there are very few teachers with that negative attitude where they are constantly bitching about the current state of education. While there always teachers that bitch about students and how awful teenagers are, there aren’t as many at my school. Most of the teachers don’t complain, they are, instead, proactive. It’s a very nice, positive change from the adjunct office.

I am struggling to adjust to things like hall passes, bells, and the PA system. If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “Teachers, please excuse this interruption,” I’d be rich. It’s weird being interrupted while teaching by the administration, the phone in my classroom ringing, and the bell. I don’t really like that aspect of it, especially since educators repeatedly hear “The time in the classroom is sacred.” I don’t see priests, pastors, and ministers being interrupted. Church is sacred. Right? I’m also not accustomed to students trying to talk over me and all the meetings and rules. Sometimes I forget they are teenagers and get really irratated during discussion when they  are talking over me and each other.

In this economy, however, I’m grateful to have something steady. I started working towards to my teaching license so that I can have high school teaching to fall back on. Still, high school is definitely not the end goal. It’s just not stimulating enough for me. I need higher level thinkers to talk to daily. High schoolers just aren’t there yet.

As you know, I feel very strongly that things happen for a reason. I’m pretty sure I’m teaching high school because I finally have some time to write. My life is slowly stabilizing, and it’s time to publish the crap out of  my writing.

I am busy as hell. I’m currently working as band staff, am a co-sponser of the creative writing club, and am training for a half marathon–not to mention, anything and all things wedding related. I like being busy. When I’m not busy, I don’t do anything. I’m totally unproductive. It’s awful. One of my best and favorite girlfriends from grad school and I have decided to begin exchanging writing to each other starting this month. I’m so grateful for this because 1) She is brilliant 2)I have someone to be accountable to 3) I have been itching for some feedback. Good feedback.

So far the energy for this school year feels right. I feel good.

It’s going to be a great year.

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Why Adjuncts Struggle to Break Free

I’ve been part-time teaching at two schools this semester and have been trying to figure out why my grad school professors warned us not be adjuncts. Well, today as I started grading a stack of papers that has recently dwindled from 110 to 90 papers, I now understand my professors’ advice.

In order to live comfortably as an adjunct you must teach at least four to five sections. These sections usually include at least 20 students which means come paper time you’ve got at least 100 papers to grade and comment on. While you’re grading papers and teaching 5 sections, full-time professors are teaching 3 sections, not worrying about money, and working on publications. That’s right, they are writing and focused on their careers, while the only writing you’re doing is the writing on student papers.

Recently a girlfriend of mine, who also has her MFA and was an adjunct for a while and is now a full-time instructor, called me. We spoke at length about focusing on our writing versus our students. She and I are tired of being super teacher. Being super teachers is not going to get us a tenure track jobs. This has always been my goal, and has recently become hers as well.

So, what have we decided to do to brighten our futures? The fifth of every month we will be emailing each other our writing. I’m working on perfecting my novel by adding some sections and lengthening the sections I have, and she wants to pump out some short stories. We attempted to establish some kind of consequence for not doing the writing, but decided that we weren’t afraid of each other so we established a reward instead. When we send each other our work, we will also send each other a $10 gift card to Barnes and Noble.

Our first exchange will occur on the 5th of November, and I’m eager to have a deadline and someone I trust to give me feedback. I’m hoping that this exchange will enable us both to see our work published and lead us towards being tenured professors.

In the end, what it all boils down to is worrying about yourself. In this competitive society, it is necessary to focus on you. It sounds narcissistic and selfish but I don’t really care, I’m in it to win it and if you’re an adjunct who is a super teacher, you should consider focusing on yourself even if it is brief. We must stop feeling guilty if we don’t our students their papers back immediately. Those things can wait–your career can’t.

Are there any super-teachers out there that agree with me? What about those of you who don’t? Why not focus on my own writing versus the writing of my students? Am I horrible person for thinking this way?

In It to Win It

Well, we’re slowly moving towards the middle of the semester.  My students have turned in their first papers and we are trucking through to the next. It is all happening so fast.

As you faithful readers know, I suck at making a schedule for myself. Well, nothing has changed so far. The only schedule I have been sticking to is my workout schedule. While I feel like this is a good start, I still need to get my teaching stuff in order–not having an office at work really blows–and desperately need a writing schedule.

I am thinking because I don’t have to be at work so early on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday that I will get my writing done in the mornings. This will enable me to start my day off completely focused on my career.

For those of you future MFA graduates, the time has come to start applying for professor jobs. As much as I hate job hunting it is so important that the cover letters and all that business gets done soon. I only have to update my CV and write a bunch of cover letters, but I’m ready. Nothing, besides myself, can stop me from getting a kick ass professor job for next fall. I’m so ready.

I think all the yoga I’ve been doing has really gotten me focused and has cleared my head of all the BS.

Well, I hope all of you out there are writing your little hearts out. Between this blog, my blogging project, and my own fiction, nonfiction and novel work I know I’m about saturated.

First Week of Classes Down–15 More to Go!

So this week began my journey as an adjunct instructor. So far, I’m liking it. I’m not digging the psuedo-office with two desks that I’m sure will aways be occupied–although the shared office at the other school I work for is a bit bigger I am sure it’s going to be a lot of the same. I’ll probably hold my office hours in a gazebos outdoors when the weather turns.

My second teaching job starts on Tuesday. I’m pretty stoked to be getting into the grove of it all.  On the first day, when I began my introductions and introduced myself as Ms. OneMean MFA, I realized how much I really love teaching. Even writing the syllabus, though tedious, felt good. Much better than answering the phone at the salon.

I’m so over that job and am quitting this week. I will NOT work three jobs, also my time is precious and I refuse to sit in a mall every evening when I could be getting my teacher work done and cooking delicious semi-gourmet meals for the boyfriend. I also really need to polish my thesis into a best seller novel and I can’t do that at the salon either.

As of now, I’m working 6 days a week, with only Sunday to get my teaching stuff done. That is just insane. I did not bust my ass in school, write a freakin’ novel, and get a master’s degree so I could work a minimum wage job. Although, I will miss the free hair services. Oh well.

This week I’ll be introducing a blogging project to my class which I have been brewing up for about a month. I so desperately want it to be a success. I also want my students to leave my class really digging the idea of having their own blog. I’m nervous about the logistics. I have about 90 students and I’ll need to monitor all of their blogs every week–hence why I need to quit the salon. Well, I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Now instead of procrastinating, I need to be getting my teacher stuff done so that I get the semester started on the right foot. Right now, I’m already behind and dreading this last week at the salon. I so hope I don’t burn any bridges by quitting. I just don’t want to over stretch myself, plus I can’t network in the academic world if I’m at the mall. Plus, yesterday while I was on break I made a ridiculous impulse purchase–which I’m not really one to do but have on occasion brought home shoes, dresses, and jewelery that I don’t need–I am not returning it, though I debated. I’ve decided it will be a fantastic addition to my new professional wardrobe. I do after all have to look great.

Well, I’m going to focus.

Oh man I love this time of year!

Teaching, Writing, and Thesising: Oh My!

In One Mean MFA fashion I’m writing a blog post instead of just banging out the last ten–really 8 pages of my thesis essay. The essay is a discussion of my influences, my process, and why I write. As with everything related to my thesis, I’ve waited until the last minute to complete it. I know what I want to write, but as is the case with any of the writing I do, it’s not the conception, or the characters, or plot, or whatever that troubles me, it’s simply sitting down to do it.

As you know I’ve been teaching high school English since March, and while I’ve been surprising more productive despite being busy, I find myself entering my apartment after a long day of teaching teenagers and being unable to do anything intellectual. I would wake up earlier to get some writing done, but my only qualm with this is that I already wake up at 5:30.  How much earlier can I wake up? 4:30? I mean I would be able to get a good hour in of writing a day, but I’d have to hit the sack around 9ish and that is not going to happen.

Teaching wears me and while I know it’s going to sound terrible, I refuse to bring home any teacher stuff. All my grading and planning I do at school, at my desk, in my classroom. My first year teaching I used to lug around textbooks, papers, homework, and tests. Back and forth, I’d carry it into my house and work on it at the kitchen table; the same place I did homework in high school. Because I’ve been trying to stay focused on my thesis, I’ve decided that it’s more important to devote my kitchen table space to my work. Not my students’ work.

Still, even though I’m not grading or planning at home I can’t seem to get myself to be motivated enough to do anything when I finish teaching. I know I started teaching in the middle of a semester, but I”m looking forward to summer when I can have my days off to continue looking for an instructor or adjunct position in the area and get some writing done that doesn’t have anything to do with my thesis. Teaching high school again has really helped me decide what my priorities are and writing is definitely on top.

Making money is great; I’m not going to lie, but I can’t honestly say that when I wake up to go teach those high school kids that I’m truly content and satisfied. I found so much more happiness teaching college students how to write papers and got paid peanuts to do it. I got to see them grow as writers and thinkers. At the high school,I mostly witness new cheating techniques and different levels of complaints about how I chose the most horrible literature for them to read. I will say, on a positive note, that they are really enjoying the novel I’ve chosen for them; this is a refreshing change from all the complaining.

While I know everything will work itself out–I’ll get that essay done, finish those last-minute touches, and manage to be super teacher–right now I wish I had a little more motivation to finish the measly 2500 words I have left to write.

I will add, in an effort to be positive, I have been enjoying thinking about my process and what I learned about myself as I wrote my very first novel. It’s also quite awesome that I get to write about myself for 10 pages. Can’t complain about that.

Now that I’m feeling more focused and ready to work, I think I’ll get to it. Who knows I might get it all done tonight.

A Quick Update

So, I’m done with my rough draft (PRAISE JESUS!) and am trying to get through another large document for my thesis. This one is more of a “why I write” and “these writer’s changed my life” sort of document. I do need to do some major revisions for my novel, but I’ve put it on the back burner for now because I didn’t even want to look at my thesis. I am currently compiling a list of “what I learned when writing my first novel” which I am eager to share with all of you.

While writing and graduating are my top priority the first of the month is approaching and I’m still unemployed. I’m starting to get freaked out. I paid my electric, so at least I’ll have power for one more month. Ha! Well, I’m quite overwhelmed and have so much discuss and not enough time to write it all out.

Eventually, I’ll get a rhythm. I had a great rhythm when I was banging out those pages, I just have to adjust to another deadline.

Back to work and job hunting.

Week One: Write Everyday or Else…

Well now that the semester has come to a close, I handed in my last paper early, and input my grades, I’m given an extra week to simply focus on my thesis. This next month promises to be chaotic. Yesterday, I moved out my apartment by school and drove my stuff to parents house, which is an hour away. Because I own 12 boxes just of books, I had to make two trips. Needless to say, yesterday was tiresome.

I think my boyfriend’s excitement that I’m going to be moving has got him hyped up. He’s flying me up in order to escort him to a semi-formal work Christmas thing then we’re driving to my parent’s house to load up the U-Haul only to head back to his city. After a brief unpacking, I’m headed back down to my parents’ place. I have a wedding to attend, I’ll stay through Christmas, then I drive back up to live permanently. Whoa.

All the while, my completed rough draft is due the week of January 14th. I’m a little less than halfway through my novel, so this month we learn if this chick can bang out a novel in about 6 weeks. This deadline is if I want to graduate in Spring, which I do. I’m quite tired of the student life.

While, I’m quite nervous about getting it done because of all the traveling and the insane atmosphere at my parents’ house with the renovations, my mom’s chemo, and oh! I forgot to tell you all, my other sister moved back in and her life is quite the wreck. I’m  sure this holiday season promises to aid in some short story/essay material for my post novel-writing days.  I think this month will be a true test of my writerly passion. I’m going to be forced to write EVERYDAY, which is what all great writer’s do. I’m ashamed to admit, I don’t do this.

I’ve never written every day because I’ve always had excuses, well now there is no excuse, I’m not taking any classes, I don’t have papers to grade, hell I don’t even have a job (another post on that to come later I’m sure). There is absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t write everyday. It will still be tough, because my mom is sick, and I want so desperately for her to be able to heal in a clean house which isn’t cluttered. We shall see how this all turns out.

In an attempt to chronicle my progress every Monday I’ll post on the issues of writing everyday, and how far I’ve gotten in my thesis by Monday, January 11th, I’d like to have a starter sentence that reads: “This week I’ll be putting the finishing touches on my completed thesis rough draft.”

This next 6 weeks I have to write everyday. I’m hoping it’s what gets me in the groove to continue to do it even after my thesis is completed.

I’ve heard that when starting to exercise regularly it takes 6-8 weeks to see results. Well this month I start a new exercise program for my mind and I’m hoping at the end of the 6 weeks I’m transformed into a devoted writer.