I saw this link in my Twitter feed:
I read the article, skimmed the comments, and replied to it in my own Twitter feed:
This term, I've been experiencing some of the most mentally taxing teaching of my life. I have five different "preps," English 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. My more senior classes each have between 26 and 30 students. My junior classes feature a "spread" between students who are designated as "gifted" and those who are capable of work at a "Grade 3 or so" level. Simultaneously I'm trying to adapt to BC's new curriculum, which is adding an enormous amount of work to an already overworked mental space. Although I'm sure I'll get through, by my standards things are not going well at work.
Beyond this, I don't have many responsibilities. My children live far away right now. I'm in a play, though, and that takes up 12 hours a week with rehearsals with an additional 4 hours of driving each week. That play will be all done by the end of November, but right now it's pretty taxing. If I'd realized just how large my classes would be this term, I doubt I would have auditioned for the play.
In the meantime, since I'm not doing exceptionally well at planning for my classes, I'm scrambling at work. This is the sort of time when teachers should take "sick days" to catch up on rest and whatnot, but I don't feel like I can do it because I haven't planned well enough for the classes. I'd be releasing a poor Teacher-On-Call to the wolves. It just wouldn't work. But I'm going to have to, probably just after I finish report cards, which are due next Wednesday.
This is nothing new for teaching. Large classes, report cards, parent teacher interviews are the norm. However, I do believe the number of responsibilities for teachers have increased with the advent of technologies like email and the Internet. Students submit their work in a myriad of formats; I am expected to read and understand practically every email that crosses my feed, whether it's from a colleague, parent, administrator, or student. I'm expected to keep up with a website in order to keep in contact with parents. It's just too much to keep track of. I find myself spending hours at the school just trying to get the most basic marking and planning done. It's exhausting.
Many of these roles simply weren't required before the advent of technologies that normalized them. Notes home and face to face interviews tended to dominate the communication cycle. I know it would have been stressful, but I think it would feel more real, more authentic. The fact is that I do an enormous amount of digital work that could very well not pay off and distracts from my work in the classroom. I don't like it.
In response to this stress level, I've started looking into ways to not spend so much time in the classroom in order to decrease the marking and planning aspects. I like educating, but the marking feels more and more futile every year. I'd like to find a side hustle in order to keep things fresh in my life. As much as I enjoy playing at a restaurant on the weekends, I'd love to be able to do a little more.
In a couple weeks, parent-teacher interviews will take place; there's an education conference in the middle of the month on the same Thursday and Friday that open the play. And then the play finishes on the 25th.
But this too shall pass. On the 26th, I'll have nothing but work to do and preparations for Winter Break. And I've treated myself to a birthday present: a nosebleed ticket to the Leafs-Canucks game in Vancouver on December 2nd.
But this month, as exciting as it will be, as many positive, empowering things as there are to do, couldn't end any sooner.
I've been looking for an acoustic guitar for quite some time. The old acoustic I used was my wife's and went with her, so I don't have one around anymore. This is fine, but it's hard to write music in a quiet apartment when there isn't a no-nonsense acoustic around to use at moments of melodic inspiration.
The fact is, however, that I'm really, really picky about acoustic guitars. I hate the "dreadnought" design and avoid most crisp-sounding instruments. I like old, plunky, parlour-sized styled acoustics, and those seem to be getting harder to come by. Also, I've started looking for an acoustic with on-board electronics so I can easily plug in for live shows. So I'm more picky than usual.
There are plenty of acoustics I'm interested in. I tried out a few here:
And what I liked the most was this Gretsch archtop... that isn't really much of an acoustic in the first place. Go figure.
I broke down a few days ago and bought a cheap guitar of off of Craigslist. I bought it for $40, but already regret it. It's a dreadnought, so it's way too big. And it doesn't sound a thing like I want an acoustic to sound like. Because it's just plain a terrible guitar overall.
Here's my first half-assed attempt at making it sound respectable.
Its action was way too high. But that's not what the guitar is for.
But I still hate it.
So today, after a meeting, I went out and got it some new strings. And I almost tuned it and tried again:
So I did it. I have an acoustic guitar to try to write again.
But all it makes me want to do is get a better acoustic so I can actually enjoy it. Today, it was this one, which sounds almost exactly like the guitar I picked for my wife:
But really I want this not-quite-an-acoustic that is much more my style, but a little too delicate for my to use at school or for campfires. This one:
And I'm super-duper interested in this one, despite its lack of on-board electronics.
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