I have been lacking sleep for days, kept awake by agitation about work and travel planning. I was relaxing last night, but Y brought up the topic of work when she invited me over for some of her homemade soup. It got the wheels going and it was difficult getting them to slow down. Now, I'm writing this blog spot in the wee hours of the morning in an effort to release some of the bother so I can get to sleep.
Whatever happens, I won't get many hours of slumber before I will have to rise and take the train to get to the discussion group meeting in Seoul by 10:30 a.m. Since the trip takes two hours and forty minutes, I should be able to sleep on the train. I just packed the inflatable neck cushion to improve my chances of doing that.
I guess the writing, activism especially the peace project, travel planning, and volunteer work with Korea TESOL have been preoccupying me a lot. Although it feels like I have been working hard and steadily to keep the teaching on track and organized, I think there are times when I may not have been concentrating enough on the job. Today, for instance, I had to pull up my boot straps. When I reviewed each class schedule and remaining workload, I found I was a bit out of synch and a little behind. I will have to go into the office on Sunday to continue working things through.
I wish I could focus exclusively on the teaching, and then do the trip. Other tasks outside the job keep beckoning, however. For one thing, I must get to work on the poster for the conference. For another, a lengthy translation editing project has come up and must get done on Sunday and Monday. Then there is an extra trip to the bank I must take to tie up a loose string soon, as I was reminded today. Finally, there is the outstanding task of sending out a debriefing to the participants who attended the last KOTESOL meeting last Saturday. I don't have time for all this extra stuff and I want to keep my mind focused on one thing at a time. Like this trip to Seoul is awfully inconvenient right now.
I made some headway today in reviewing the class workloads and schedules. There is an adjustment hit a little road bump when the news was released saying that there would be an extra national holiday for the national by-elections in the last week of classes on June 4th. Of course, I am trying to avoid doing making up work during make-up week as I am all booked to travel at that time. The planning of the final exams is progressing, and I am having discussions with the students about how to wrap it up and proceed with exams. In fact, I have been revamping the course syllabuses.
I, like other teachers I am sure, are probably wound up and on edge because the midterm student evaluations of teachers have just been posted. It is the first time that we, the contract foreign language teaching staff at this particular university, have been subjected to midterm evaluations. We only began entering midterm grades a couple of years ago, and have been exempt from student evaluations in the middle of the term up until now. I am sure I am not the only one wondering what is up with that. I wonder whether it can and will be used as reinforcing evidence against a professor out of favor who is being considered for dismissal. I mean, if we get evaluations at midterm and again at the final, does that count as two strikes against us should evaluations be rated low? Anyway, I looked over my students' evaluations but I am not sure how to interpret them for it looks like the numerical expression of the rating system is different. The questions might be different now, though it is hard to understand the hangeul. What I could understand of the comments seemed positive, in any case. I wonder how other teachers fared.
At least seeing the ratings in the middle of the term gives one a chance to improve by the end of the semester. I am hoping to do that, so the mind is working overtime coming up with solutions to wrinkles and overcoming hurdles in work that remains.
I will get through it. As it has been pointed out in a couple of the TED lectures I have listened to recently, stress can be a good thing. It can keep us alert. It can energize us and fuel motivation and passion for work. Stress makes life exciting, and ensures that we are punctual, plan carefully and double check our plans. By contrast, not worrying about our duties can make us dull, lax, careless, tardy and unprepared. If we weren't on edge, we would sit back and lounge around, causing a lack of attention and care.
I just wish I could settle down enough to get a regular night's sleep. I should not be thinking about work late in the evening. I should let my mind relax and think about other things in the evening.
The TV is a problem. Many of the best programs are broadcast after nine o'clock. For example, I kept myself awake after ten o'clock in order to watch "House of Cards", and it turned out to be a pivotal episode in which the diabolical politician, Frank Underwood, wangles himself into the office of President by wrecking the careers of others while acting like their best and most sincere allies. It is a fabulous drama. For another example, I love the show called "Mad Men" that comes on at a similar time slot on Thursday nights. It is about corporate America in the 1960's and the follies and dark schemes of men and women who yearn for wealth and power. These programs are on at inconvenient times. When I am sleepy and I force myself to stay awake after ten, I usually rev myself up so much that it takes a long time to settle down and sleep later in the evening. I will have to cut down the bedtime TV watching.