Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Mom of the World, or Shouting into the Void

 If you're a mom, or a teacher, or have a certain kind of organizational brain, you're used to this: 

Mom version: 

Day 1. "Mom, where are my socks?"

"In the drawer where they always are." (Or in my case, in the laundry basket where I hadn't folded them.)

"Oh, okay." 

Day 2. "Mom, where are my socks?" etc. 

But you put up with it because they're kids and learning.


Teacher version: 

"How many sources do we need for this paper?" (after you've already said "as many or as few as you need" in class many times.)

"As many or as few as you need. If you're supporting a point . . . " (and you can do this from memory, I'm sure.) 

You answer patiently because they're students AND you have learned that some draconian teacher in their past has probably terrified them by saying "this specific number, no more and no less." They need that reassurance that, unlike a real colleague I had one time, I am not going to dock them points for putting one space rather than two after a period back when that was a thing. 


But what about grown-ups? 

Person A to Person B & C (me):"Where did we put this file? Who has it? What did we say about X? Isn't that a problem?"

Person C (me): "The file is here. Here is the system I set up so we could all keep track of these files together. Here is what we decided about X, and here is why we thought it was a problem." 

Person B: "I don't remember what we decided, Person A, but I think X is a problem because [what I as Person C just said without crediting me]." 

Person A: "Thank you, Person B, for your vast insights and wisdom."

Person C (me): "Hello! I'm talking here."

In short, apparently I am the Mom of the World, organizing things and shouting into a void that is not responsive. As with other responsibilities where this has happened, the world will not change, but I can stop being its Mom.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Midpoint while teaching & writing in cyberspace

 We're halfway through the semester, and so far the Great Online Experiment is going--as well as can be expected?  In The Invisible Woman, her biography of Dickens's mistress, Ellen Ternan, Claire Tomalin says that's the phrase always used for women after childbirth, and while that is so not me, it seems to fit. Given "these challenging times" in which everyone "hopes you are well," we're doing what we can, I guess. 

  • As mentioned previously, I feel oddly closer to and more relaxed with my students teaching this way. Is it because of the informality baked into the whole Zoom teaching process? Because I have actual books at home that I can use to illustrate points? That I spend more time checking in on how they're doing? I can't tell. What I can tell is that I'm really happy to see them on class days, happier than I have been for a while.
  • They seem to be--adjusting? I offered to meet with them (masked, distanced, etc.) in person and have traveled to campus for that purpose, but only one person took me up on the offer. Or are they more resigned than adjusted? 
  • Of course they don't have to keep their cameras on, and I've told them so. But they do, which is really helpful and makes a huge difference.
  • I'm still getting asked admin questions from time to time, and I am responsible about answering and referring without giving my opinion. Whose circus is it? Whose monkeys? Not mine. And I really do think that a change in perspective in the position will ultimately benefit everyone, despite the absolute perfection of my judgment in all things :).
  • It's still very hard to write, but some glimmerings are starting to emerge of some ideas.
  • WordPress has decided to become more horrible even than in its last "new & improved" update. Now it hides ALL the things I need to access, makes it harder to start a page, sends you to a bunch of clicks when all you want to do is add a file, and is generally behaving in an exasperating and time-consuming fashion. Did WordPress decide that we have too much time on our hands?