What a month!
I’ve never had a more exhausting September — neither the first year of teaching nor the first semester of grad school come close. More frustrating is that I’m still not really sure why this past month was more overwhelming than previous semester starts. I do have three preps this time around (and will next semester, too) which makes things a little more dramatic, and taking on the challenge of the field school (a 7 week study abroad program next spring) means my days are pretty full. But still.
What I need for next semester is a strategy to keep my own workload in check. I’ve already started — when I ordered textbooks, I kept the texts the same for two of my three classes. I’ve never done that! I always change up all the books; honestly, I’m scared of getting stale so I force myself to write fresh lectures on fresh texts. But I don’t think that’s a sustainable plan. So my Academic Writing and my Children’s Literature courses are sticking with the same books — I’m really enjoying both classes, so I think it makes sense to try again with the same texts and refine the course. I’ve been throwing out the baby with the bathwater for too long.
I would love to figure out how to not bring work home, but it just doesn’t seem possible, even when I’m doing a reliable 8 hours / day on campus. Part of the problem is that I don’t feel ready to start saying no to opportunities that cross my path — I’m still so new, and selfishly, I’m genuinely excited about everything that people approach me about. So it’s hard to turn things down. (Unfortunately, I’m finding instead that what I have no time for is my own academic work, which of course is not sustainable in the long term. So.)
Things have calmed down a little and I suspect they will continue to do so. And I was well-warned these first two years would be about finding my feet. The most important thing, I think, is that I do love my job even when I’m shattered — I know I’m lucky to be able to say that.