It’s snowing this morning here in central illinois, and while it’s not the prettiest snow shower, it’s still nice to watch from inside. My favorite snowfall is when the flakes are big and fat and there’s no wind, so they just come straight down, quietly, and transform the world. These flakes are small and there’s some wind driving them, so they seem, well, not angry like in a blizzard, but sort of hyped up, like there’s a deadline and they’re running late and so they have to rush and aren’t doing it very efficiently. They’re not frantic, but they’re also not very organized or determined about getting where they’re going. Is there some psychological condition where you anthropomorphize weather? If so, there are some indications today that I might have it.
This patch of time isn’t going very well. I’m really struggling with the new class I’m teaching, and I don’t know why, so it’s consuming time and attention wholesale. Whatever the reason--which remains mysterious to me--I’m not connecting with the class where they are. My theory of teaching is that you meet the students wherever they are and hope to move them along to a new place. Since I haven’t found these kids where they are, my grand scheme to get them someplace else, as you might imagine, isn’t going very well. The frustrating part is that I’m not really sure--still-what’s wrong.
Every group has its own culture and chemistry, and one of my strong points has always been to sense that and find a way to connect within the overall structure of my plan for the course. The plan in this case still feels like a good one, but it and I am not reaching this group, or at least the vocal ones among them. This an in-between size group for me (40), but as I’ve taught successfully in both smaller and larger (and much larger) groups, I don’t think it’s the size. I’ve taught students earlier in their careers and later, all the way through professional development. I’m pretty sure that is not the cause, so another option that remains is that my changed brain configuration cannot do a good course design anymore, which while it occurs to me a lot to wonder about, doesn’t feel like the answer. Whatever the answer, there’s something about where this group is that I haven’t yet mastered and it feels terrible. Though I’m scheduled to teach this course again, I’m working on facing up to the fact that it’s entirely possible that I’m not the right teacher for this group and some other longer term plan will be necessary, which not only means I will have failed, but also jeopardizes a pretty big part of our medium-term planning. I haven’t given up yet, and have yet another idea for trying to improve things, but it’s discouraging. Meanwhile, other stuff inches along and come mid-March, gets even busier. That’s a daunting prospect just now, from the bottom of the hole I’m in. I’m consoling myself that my outlook is probably more grey this morning than the reality because it feels like I’m coming down with something (for which I do not have time) and that generally glooms up (down?) my outlook. So, back to revising my list to concentrate on the most important tasks first and keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s the only way I know how to get through a time like this, and it’s time-tested, so that’s what I’m going to do.
Today brings a visit with Dr. Thoughtful to see how the cortisol levels are and to check on this clicking thing in my skull. Assuming I’m not as sick as I’m worried I’m going to be (how’s that for self-absorption!?), lunch plans include seeing a friend who always lift my spirits, so that should be a nice way to ease into the afternoon’s labors. One foot in front of the other. And maybe the sun will come out!