Journal

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Note #129: Semester underway (2019.9.21)

The third week of the fall semester is now in the books. This is the first time I’ve ever had classes on Monday and Wednesday, as opposed to Tuesday and Thursday. It’s also the first time I’ve had a class start at 9:30 in the morning (although I’ve previously had graduate seminars begin at 10:00). This doesn’t bother me too much, as I usually try to leave the house at 8:00 and get into my office around 8:15 anyway, but it does seem to be rough on the students; when it was time to begin the morning class this past Wednesday, roughly half the class was in attendance, with about two-thirds of the remainder trickling in over the next five to ten minutes (the rest were just absent, for some reason).

I’m not sure if I like the Monday/Wednesday schedule better yet. It does give me the Thursday/Friday block to do other things, but I still need to spend some of that time preparing for the next week’s classes, because I don’t want to have to do class prep over the weekend. Also, apparently the Tuesday/Thursday schedule is more popular in general, which means that people end up scheduling meetings and other events on Wednesdays, so instead of being able to take a break between my morning and afternoon classes, I have to spend lunch in a meeting or whatever. In fairness, this doesn’t happen often, but it did happen this Wednesday, so I’ve been a bit cranky about it. Also in fairness, though, it wasn’t that torturous of a meeting, so maybe I’m being too cranky. Whatever the case, I do think I will try to move back to my usual Tuesday/Thursday schedule next semester—I’ve already put in a request with the office.

This semester also sees the most students I have ever had in my classes. There are 39 students in my morning class and 52 students in my afternoon class, meaning that I have a total of 91 students (although there is some overlap, with a few students taking both classes). I don’t know exactly what my previous record is, but I do know that I’ve never had more than 30 students in the morning class, and 50 has been my high-water mark for the afternoon class. On the one hand, 91 students is a lot, and it does mean more work for me, but on the other hand I am grateful to have packed classes (especially when some classes get canceled for lack of students). This is the silver lining I comfort myself with when I walk into my afternoon class and see the room jam-packed with students. I will say, though, that I think this might be the best behaved group of students I’ve ever had in the afternoon class. I don’t use a mic, and I don’t like to shout to get students to quiet down at the beginning of class, so what I’ve taken to doing in recent semesters is standing conspicuously at the front of the room and staring serenely out at everyone. In past semesters, it has taken a while for everyone to quiet down, and there are usually a few students who just refuse to take the hint and end up being shushed by the other students. This past Wednesday, though, I stood in front of the class and playfully put my hands together in a greeting position (palms together, fingers pointing up), and the class fell silent instantaneously. I was shocked, and said as much. Positive feedback is important, so I made sure to let them know how pleased I was. Shocked, but pleased.

Anyway, with all these students, I have a very busy semester ahead of me. I also have a number of papers to present, reviews to write, etc. I will be attending the annual meeting of the American Folklore Society in the middle of October (where I will be talking about an online comment scandal that happened here recently) and I will be presenting a paper here on what it means to be human in the digital age in early November. Then I have another paper that needs revision for publication in December. I’m looking at my calendar right now, and I can already feel the semester start to fly by; October is already right around the corner, or at least it feels like it. I’m trying to stay relaxed about everything, but the knowledge of how much I need to get done and how little time I have in which to do it is weighing on me a bit. But worrying about it is not productive. I just have to buckle down and get stuff done. I think part of it is that I haven’t been feeling well lately, for various reasons, but I think I’m starting to get over that, so fingers crossed for the future.

I’d like to say that I will be spending the rest of the day relaxing and recovering from the grad school beginning-of-the-semester gathering we had last night, but this afternoon I will be taking a rather large group of students from the afternoon class out to the Hangul Museum—in addition to being very cooperative, they also seem to be very interested in extracurricular activities. I don’t think I’ve ever had a group of more than fifteen, but this group will be twice that size. So, no rest for the weary. I guess I’d better get ready for that, then.

Send me your thoughts.

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