Light At The End of The Tunnel

Classes end this week. And, as much as I love, teaching, I really couldn’t be happier for the term to end. I. Am. So. Tired. Teaching a class you haven’t taught before takes a ridiculous amount of work. The class I taught this term had two classes per week, 1.5 hrs each. Do you know how much time it takes to create 3 hrs of high quality lecture material every single week? At the same time as creating assignments, consulting with students about their assignments, marking assignments, consulting with students about the marks & feedback on their assignments? A lot. It takes a lot of time to do that. A crazy ridiculously insane lot of time.

Just to give you a sense of it, I would spend the vast majority of my weekend, and virtually every evening plus anytime I was on a bus, reading papers and textbooks and writing my lecture notes. I took 16 textbooks about Research Methods1 out of the library, plus one I borrowed from a colleague and 6 that I received as evaluation copies from publishers and 3 that I already owned. That’s a total of 26 books that I read, in whole or in part, for this course. In addition, I have a stack of journal articles about 6 inches thick2 that rounded out what I taught. Plus I created a number of in class activities to give students a chance to get some hands on experience with research methods, so that involved more work – including rounding up digital audio recorders so all the students could do qualitative research style interviews plus uploading all the audio files for the students to be able to transcribe them4.

And remember, teaching is my side job! I’m already working 30 hours per week at my main place of employment. Plus, I’m a course supervisor for a course at Simon Fraser University. Mercifully, the SFU course is online and has a TA, so the amount of work is much, much less than a lecture-based, TA-less class, but we ran into some issues with the course that meant it took a bit more time than was expected. And let’s not forget playing on two hockey teams and training for a half marathon. A coworker of mine asked me how the hell I was doing all of this and I let her in on my little secret. Sleep deprivation. Seriously. My class was Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 a.m.3, and it was not unusual to find me on a Monday or Wednesday night up until 3 or 4 a.m. finishing my lecture, only to get up a 6:30 a.m. to print out my lecture notes and get ready to head to campus. In fact, I can count the number of times I got more than 4 hours of sleep on a Monday or Wednesday night this on one hand. And that counts Reading Week, the week where I didn’t have lectures.

So, now, mercifully, I see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. The only teaching-related things I have left now are:

For my UBC class:

  • an exam review lecture for Tuesday morningcompleted 6 April 2009, 10:30 p.m.
  • creating the exam 5 April 2009, 11:24 p.m. – have a solid draftcompleted 17 April 2009
  • creating sample exam questions for the studentscompleted 5 April 2009, 11:24 p.m.
  • marking final papers
  • invigilating the exam (not until April 24!)
  • marking exams
  • submitting final grades

For the SFU course:

  • finishing the marking guide for the exam (which I’ve already created) for the TA completed 5 April 2009, 3:30 p.m.
  • invigilating the SFU exam on Wednesdaycompleted 8 April 2009, 10:30 a.m.
  • submitting final grades

Man, when I write it all down like that, it kinda seems like a lot. But, mercifully, it’s spread out nicely over the entire month of April and compared to writing three hours of lectures per week, this will be a cake walk.

Update 5 April 2009: Decided to use this list as a checklist, crossing items off as I complete them. I <3 crossing things off checklists – it makes me feel productive!

1The topic of my course
2And that’s printed double sided!!
3Don’t get me started on what I think of 8 freaking a.m. classes!
4Which took – you guessed it – a ridiculously insanely crazy amount of time. Oh yes, and I should mention props to my friends Amy and Rachel who both let me borrow their digital audio recording devices!