The View From My Desk: Week Two Of Classes

view from my desk, week 2Hello to you! Today marks the second half of the second week of the term here at Lindenwood, and I’d like to welcome you to the chaos; everything from planning and preparing for what we’re doing in five different classes at three different levels of instruction, to trying to remember which classroom I’m meant to be teaching in and 100 students’ names (and those of my colleagues!), to answering a dozen and more emails a day asking how to access or use Canvas to upload assignments, to deadlines for abstracts and various forms and paperwork, to deadlines for ongoing writing and research projects. Protip: If you have ever imagined, even for the briefest moment, that once you had a faculty position things would ease up a little, then you have a really, really good imagination.

Now that I am sitting on this side of the desk, I mostly feel busy. Not good, not bad,  not overwhelmed (at least, not yet!) but simply, busy. Every hour of every working day is spoken for: office hours, teaching, meetings, assessing student work, setting up Canvas assignments and discussions, monitoring Canvas discussions, recording attendance in the Faculty portal, reading for classes, preparing for classes, appointing with students, and, endlessly, responding (and, I confess, occasionally NOT responding) to emails. As you can see in the photograph above, currently (as in, once I hit “publish” on this much-belated post I will return to these things) I am creating an assignment for one class, getting ready to conduct sign ups for an assignment in two other classes, reading for one article in progress, and have just completed an abstract and begun compiling a reading list for another article I’m preparing to write. Propped up to the right of the computer screen is my current to-do list with deadlines listed for each of my research and writing projects, to remind me that if it seems like I have a few extra hours in any given day, I’m not paying attention.

Because, overachiever that I am (and surely, many of you are in the same boat? I am certain many of my readers are overachievers in their own right!) I also walked into this position with ongoing research and writing projects already at various stages of completion, and those deadlines are now looming. There’s no leftover time for anything else to be included in the ordinary working day, so things are spilling over into non-working hours, which was something I promised my family I would try to hold to an absolute minimum, but which I find now, two weeks into the term, is not going to be even remotely possible. If I’m going to get through these projects on time, then I’m going to be pulling some really long research and writing and revising hours over the next month (strangely, everything left on my plate is due on or around October 1; make of that what you will…..)

So many things already on the “to-do” list; so many things I still want to add to it–developing professional, collegial relationships with other faculty members, learning more about the University culture, getting more involved; so many things I will eventually be required to do (and want to do!)–advising students, serving on committees, being engaged in campus issues. But, not today. Today, I am going to finish this post, sign off, and head out to teach two sections of British Literature I, where we are going to have a wonderful time geeking out together over Beowulf.

And yes–if you haven’t already thought it at some point while reading through this post, then you should be thinking it now: I am completely, 100% totally in my element and loving every crazy, chaotic, overbooked minute of it all. It is genuine pleasure to meet and get to know new students, to hear their stories and find out what they want to learn and help them develop the skills they need to accomplish their goals, whatever those might be. I am surrounded by the warmest and most collegial faculty members (although we have not yet had much time to spend getting to know one another, since we are all focused on getting our students off to a good term). We are settled for the time being into a cozy little apartment at the ground level (which means our windows are at the base of the land, which means I am living in a Hobbit Hole, which is a childish dream come true!) and I can find all of my books. We have enjoyed getting out on the weekends to explore a little bit, and everyone both 2- and 4-legged seems to be making the transition from East Coaster to Midwesterner without any major issues or concerns. My biggest problem right now (aside from the eternal issue of how to figure out what primary care physician to sign up with on my new insurance, and which bank to open a new account with, since ours doesn’t have branches in this part of the country) is that I need more hours in the day to do what I want and need to do, and I think that is pretty much as good as it gets in this lifetime.

I hope that your term is off to a good start, and that you are as excited to feel Autumn entering into the air as I am. Looking forward to what lies ahead, and hoping for sweater-and-boots weather soon!


About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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