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Tonight I am grumpy for some reason. I think it is because I have spent the last six months teaching and struggling through language classes. I like teaching, really I do, but my department doesn’t assign me to teach within my specialty area. This spring I was assigned to teach a gen ed class that has literally been called “the impossible course” because you are expected to cover the globe in a quarter. I got very little done spring quarter. Then the first four weeks of summer I spent in an intensive grammar course for my foreign language. (Two more third year language classes for me in the fall.) The last three weeks I have been teaching the same technical course as I did last summer. Last summer it took me a ton of time and energy to prep that course. Thankfully, this summer it was basically all ready to go. I’m just not motivated to teach. Research is calling me…only it has been so long that I have lost track of what my dissertation is about and what my next steps should be.

I also have a small research project that is related to the dissertation which I am suppose to be getting done for a regional conference in September…problem…the project proposal is stuck somewhere in the office for the protection of human subjects.

Basically I’m busy beating myself up for not getting enough research done. At the same time I would really like to have a few weeks vacation. Instead, I agreed to write a book chapter that has to be done by the end of the month. Publications are good, so I can’t really be picky, but I now have three different projects to deal with between now and October (when classes start.)

I have also been thinking a lot about my research and trying to imagine what my next research project would be after my dissertation is complete. Now it may seem premature considering that my comps aren’t done and I still need my committee to approve my final dissertation proposal, but I have been doing research related to my dissertation project all along, so I feel like I have already learned some things I like and don’t like about this project. Reading Notorious PhD’s series on the fox and the hedghog in research has gotten me thinking. I’m definitely more of a fox. My research interests are all over the place. But the question that keeps bouncing around inside my head right now is how much I want to subscribe to one particular line of social theory. I know what I like, what research resonates with me, but some days I’m feeling postmodern and other days a bit of traditional western Marxism seems more appropriate. Also, how much can I let current fashions social theory dictate the direction of my research? Hopefully all will become clear through the initiation process that is called comprehensive exams. Duh, duh, duh….Epiphanies will abound.

P.S. I don’t know if I will ever get back in the habit of blogging here on a regular basis.

Had a not very satisfying orientation/assessment meeting with the departmental chair last week in which she told me that I needed to take a bunch of classes because I don’t have the proper “breadth” classes in my field. This despite my master’s degree. Apparently, if the courses don’t have the correct three letter prefix, despite their content, they are of no use.

Luckily after that I met with my advisor, who maintained that no one would care one bit what courses I had taken during my job search, but rather what I will know and what I will have (is that the proper tense?) written. Thank the gods! He suggested that I avoid taking classes just to fulfill requirements, and came up with ideas for more interesting things I might take. He even offered to come up with a reading course for me tailored towards some of our joint interests. Yay!

Now I have to get to bed. Teaching a “lab” tomorrow morning at 8AM. Fun, fun, fun!

Almost any term, there is a day, a moment maybe, in which I lose the will to go on working. I think the moment has arrived. Beorn’s birth-daughter has been visiting all weekend, Saturday was a friend’s 50th birthday party, and the grading load has been ridiculous. Last Thursday I gave a mini-lecture in the class I’m TAing and then Friday a presentation to faculty on how I use technology in the classes I TA.

Most days I like being a TA. I usually like the professors I work with. Often though, I’m frustrated with instructors that don’t talk to their TAs about plans for the class or let us look over the assignment prompts before they hand them out.

I’m so tired of grading at this point it’s not funny. Yesterday I read 20+ essays. I should read another 20+ tonight. By Saturday night I need to grade another 50+ take-home essay exams. The grading load for this course has been insane. Bleck!

I have finally caught the illness that has been going around. When I’m sick I just want to sleep and tend to get depressed. As a recovering workaholic, not being able to work is difficult. Getting behind in numerous types of work is frustrating. My thesis is progressing, but far from complete. I’m treading water at my “research assistant” job. And I haven’t managed to finish grading the latest batch of papers, partly because I found two cases of plagerism.

Tomorrow I’m going to visit the one PhD program I have heard from, which won’t help me catch up. I’m excited, but nervous.

What has made me extra tired today is my students. They aren’t reading. I tried to lead them through constructing an argument for their next paper, which is due Monday, but since they haven’t read most of the case studies, there wasn’t much for them to say. They are tired, it’s near the end of the term, and this is just a Gen Ed class, but their apathy discourages me. I’m tired of making an effort, when they are doing the bare minimum.

Medieval Woman has been grading papers and her experience is so similar to mine I that I must blog about it. I’m assuming that her students are writing about medieval literature and my students are writing about twentieth century American popular culture, but this phrase is so familiar. “Throughout history and extending into today, [insert assertion here; e.g. “women have been oppressed by society”]…”

Why do student write this kind of stuff? Tiruncula seems to think the answer is to ban certain phrases. If I started banning all annoying student phrases I would have a really long list, but I’m not sure it would solve the problem of poor writing/thinking. Is there an effective way to get them to stop?

Do they really think that these things have been happening throughout history? Do they lack the experience to know better? Should their instructor just point out that this statement is inaccurate? Should certain phrases be banned?

Although my writing is passable, my experience with writing instruction is somewhat limited. Often I’m able to say that something doesn’t work, but I’m not sure what exactly the problem is. I can correct the student, but have trouble explaining how they would go about avoiding the error in future writings.