Guest Blogger: William Donohue
As I sit in my office, on a beautiful autumn afternoon, writing this blog, I have a moment of calm to what has been a chaotic week—both professionally and personally, some my doing, others beyond my control. This has not been a typical week (is there such a thing?), but a few times every semester there is a perfect storm of so much going on that I can’t catch my breath.
The question that I want to ask, and that I look forward to reading about in the comments, is how do others find balance in their lives during the sprint that is a semester of teaching? How do people in The Lincoln University Community find motivation to keep going?
To illuminate my week, here are some snippets:
Monday, 8:45 a.m.: The power to University Hall mercifully comes back on as I am setting up for the first of 28 student conferences of the day and preparing a backup plan to take written notes that I can transcribe to the computer later.
Sunday, 7:30 a.m.: After making coffee and tuning in to WXPN, I take a draft to read from the pile of the 150 drafts (2 per ENG 099 student) that I will discuss with students in their one-on-one conference.
Monday, 11:15 a.m.: Power goes back out; I hope that I saved the Excel document with the notes about individual student issues taken during the morning conferences.
Tuesday, 4:30 a.m.: My 15-week-old son, Sawyer, the first child for my wife and me, decides it is time to get up and start the day.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, around midnight: I fall asleep reading a student draft and decide that it is time to go to bed
Tuesday, 12:30 p.m.: I am halfway through the student conferences and although I have explained “run on sentences” in most of them, showing each student seems to help them understand.
Thursday, 7:30 p.m.: A device called “The Snot Sucker” is put to use on Sawyer’s nose while my wife holds him and I suck.
Friday, 9:06 a.m.: I find most of my students it the library after they followed a handwritten note taped to the classroom door saying “Class Is Meeting At The Library ACC. Information System Ask Help Desk For Direction.” I lead them back to our classroom, and we discuss revision.
Monday, 3:08 p.m.: “Cherish life,” says a student in my ENG 102 class.
Monday, 3:07 p.m.: I ask the question, “In the play Our Town, what does Emily’s ghost mean when she says ‘They don’t—understand—do they?’
Wednesday, 1:10 p.m.: I can see the light at the end of student conference tunnel and I am exhausted. But I am reminded of the words of the great composition teacher Donald Murray, who wrote of writing conferences, “I am tired, but it is a good tired, for my students have generated energy as well as absorbed it.”
Wednesday, 4:15 p.m.: While watching the end of a documentary titled OT:Our Town about students from Dominguez High School in Compton, CA, who put on the school’s first play in 20 years, I tear up a little when the student playing Emily says, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it—every, every minute.”
Tuesday, 5:45 a.m.: Sawyer falls back asleep with his head on my shoulder.