This semester is an exciting and nerve-wracking endeavor. I am (as usual) my own worst enemy. I am teaching 2 classes that I taught last semseter (can you say CAKE WALK?) which, I have to be honest, I am doing little with. channeling Jack: push lever, get food pellet. I worked out the basics for those courses last semester, so this semester I am changing the things that didn’t work last time, but not stressing too hard about what DID work.
THEN there is my third course – or shall I say my ONLY course, as it takes about 99% of my time, energy and brain power. In this course, I am reading two texts (one of which I like and the other is the “traditional” text for the course), writing lectures and generating PowerPoints from (practically) scratch, writing lab handouts completely from scratch, trying to figure out what we HAVE that I can use and what I’m S.O.L. on (and frequently I find out that we really DID have some of this stuff, but…well…we don’t let the students USE it!! Sheesh! [insert eye-rolling emoticon here]).
Now, let’s be rational – I am putting the majority of the pressure on myself. Probably no suprise to anyone who is reading this. The previous instructor left/sent a BUNCH of information. I am using some of his images, some of his summaries, and a lot of his material for reference (for myself). The problem is, I am not him. His background, style and interests are VASTLY different from mine. So…I have to make this information, and this course, my own.
Apparently (from third-party information) the students think I’m doing a great job. My TA’s (I am assuming this based on NO data) think I’m a flake, since I don’t have my labs ready for meetings a week in advance, and I’m usually adding to them right up to the time that lab begins. The lab tech (again an assumption) thinks I’m totally NUTZ because I ask for EVERYTHING, and I let the students use it! I think I’m losing my mind because, after 10 years of teaching Human A&P I had it down to a routine , I knew what I needed, what we had, how to improvise and who to get stuff from. Now I’m running around like the proverbial chick sans head and LITERALLY learning as I go.
I am actually (if I take a slightly objective perspective) getting an incredible amount done in the first semester of teaching a course like this. I will have a MASSIVE foundation on which to build/refine the course next time. Right now, I’m just barely keeping my head above water. “Look to the future” I keep telling myself “It will get easier” Then I worry that the light is the oncoming train, and I won’t get to enjoy all the hard work I put in laying this foundation.
The nice thing about an academic job, however, is that EVERY semester MUST come to an end. It is the twice a year reset button that makes all the insanity go away so as to be forgotten before the next semester begins. I am an optomist, so I always believe that it will be new and different. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is Deja vu all over again. And still I keep on believing.