Friday, October 29, 2010

quite possibly camping (and other matters)

Yesterday was my first full day of work at ETS. It involved a good bit of stumbling and fumbling, but by the end of the day I had acquired something of a rhythm. Although essay rating isn't the sort of work that leaves me delighted and energized, one nice thing about it is that there's no extra work beyond one's scheduled work hours: no loose ends to worry about at the end of the day.* Still, despite this comforting fact, I ended the day with somewhat jangled nerves. Starting next week, i.e., the beginning of November, I begin my first official week of work with ETS. Cross dem fingers. Le travail commence pour de vrai.

Meanwhile, depending on certain things happening today, I'm planning to be out in the mountains this coming weekend. Will the bears have stopped their pre-hibernation foraging yet? I'll need to check that. There's also a chance that I'll be moving out of this house come December-- possibly to Fredericksburg, and possibly to the mountains. A trip down to Germanna Community College on Friday is currently in the works. I'm curious about working there as a full-time staffer, and one way to do this may be to teach at Germanna as both a religion instructor and an English/ESL instructor. I need to find out whether that's even possible, hence tomorrow's trip. I recently learned that community colleges are always looking for Composition 101 teachers. That might be my foot in the door. ESL would be great, too, since I've got plenty of experience in that area. Tomorrow's visit will also be to the head of the Humanities Department, to apologize for having turned down the offer of part-time work that had come in August.

Even if Germanna doesn't take me up full-time at first, I'll have steady work with ETS, which will at least allow me to pay the rent. (Eventually, I'd like to follow in my little bro's footsteps and buy a house, but that's not happening anytime soon.)

Lots to think about. Lots to prepare.

*This isn't to say that I hated this aspect of being a teacher. With any other job, I would have resented any extracurricular work, but with teaching, it was often a delight to plan lessons and curricula, grade papers, and do research to prep for upcoming lessons.



Charles said...

So, congrats on starting work and all, but this bit made me do a triple take:

"... it was often a delight to plan lessons and curricula, grade papers, and do research to prep for upcoming lessons."

Really? Grading papers was a delight? I am currently taking a little break from grading my students' translations for the week, and it is anything but a delight. What am I doing wrong?

Kevin Kim said...

Yeah, I actually enjoy that sort of thing. It could be a drag when I had a ton of paperwork to get through, but even at its draggiest, I enjoyed plowing through the students' output and marking it up in red. I realize that makes me a bit sadistic, but compared to staring at a screen and clicking a mouse button every few minutes, lesson planning and paper-grading were fun.

Charles said...

"...but compared to staring at a screen and clicking a mouse button every few minutes, lesson planning and paper-grading were fun."

Ah, well that would be a different story if it were just relatively fun. But you really did find grading papers enjoyable, didn't you? I'd call that more masochistic than sadistic, to be honest. To each his own, I suppose. (For clarification: I don't mind the other aspects of class prep, but the grading is just pure drudgery for me.)

Like I always say: the only good grading is grading that's already done. Well, I don't always say that, but I think I'm going to say that often from now on.

(The Word Verification gods have deemed this comment: "unbad" Woohoo!)

Kevin Kim said...

I sometimes consider grading an extension of the face-to-face interaction we have with students in class.

Perhaps there is a masochistic aspect to my enjoyment, but the sadism lies in the marking-up of a student's essay in red. Some of my students have come away shocked at how closely I paid attention to every little thing they wrote. It can be tiring, putting that much effort into grading a paper, but I'm often trying to get students to break habits that have become entrenched after years of having teachers who didn't bother to correct the little things.

Of course, after fifteen terrible papers in a row, I admit it's a relief when a beautifully written paper comes along, requiring almost no correction at all. I should also note that I spent most of my time at Smoo grading written output in the form of journal entries and page-long essays, not lengthy research papers or 5-page reflective papers. Most of my students wouldn't have been capable of that level of work.

Charles said...

Yeah, I definitely think that the grading is an extension of what we do with the students in class. In fact, I consider my classes to have three parts: 1) the assignment that the students do at home and send in before class for me to look at, 2) the actual class, where I'll pick some of the students' translations as examples of the issues I saw overall, and 3) the individual translations that get sent back with colorful markings.

I used to highlight the files in red and yellow, but some of the students complained that red was too "traumatic" (really), so I switched to "salmon" (sort of a pinkish red). This has led to a host of jokes among my students about being stuffed with salmon, having too much salmon to eat, etc. Last semester, one of my classes actually gave me salmon (the fish) for Teacher's Day.

I definitely hear you about trying to get students to break habits. All of my students study at institutes in order to get in to our school, and they pick up some of the most awful translation habits. Sometimes I feel like I spend two years just trying to get them to kick the habits they built up before they even arrived. Maybe that's why I get so little enjoyment out of it (because I definitely have my own sadistic streak). It all feels so Sisyphean.

(More word verification fun...

Menthli: son of Gloin; he was originally supposed to be the representative of the dwarves to Rivendell. However, his addiction to Kool brand cigarettes had led to poor health, so his younger brother Gimli was chosen to go instead. History records that this decision had a profound effect on the Fellowship and the War of the Ring, perhaps second only in importance to Sam's decision to pack extra underwear for the trip into Mordor.)

Surprises Aplenty said...

I hope you better at the college than this article suggests:
"his administrator, an individual who herself enjoyed a large, airy office far from the scent of the lavatory, grew increasingly irritated with Claudia’s insistence that her students deserved better. After ten minutes of back and forth, came this: “Listen here, Ms. Dreifus, you’re an adjunct! Do you get that? We’ve got a hundred adjuncts here. I’m busy.”

Ah, the pecking order of the university! Claudia—who’d previously spent much of her life as a professional journalist—didn’t yet understand her lowly place in this new environment.

Adjuncts belong to a diverse group of teachers called contingents, who are hired to take on chores regular faculty members don’t want to do. Their numbers and ratios increase with the size of a university, but since most students now attend larger schools, this raises their chances of getting a contingent education."

Anonymous said...

If there's a constant demand for Composition101 instructors, you do realize there's a reason for that, right? High turnover is not a good sign.

Grading. Gug. The bane of my existence. It's when I find out just how poorly I'm really doing as a teacher. And when I get punished for making my students write these massive assignments. But now and then I find evidence that someone--my students, or theirs--have learned something cool, and that gives me a zap of energy that gets me through.

Now to tackle that word verification process. Last time I tried to comment on your blog, the damn thing told me I got it wrong for three different nonsense words, and I'm just not that careless, so I gave up. Maybe it was the Identity process; this time I'll go with anonymous, but this is really Addofio. Here goes. . .