The Teaching Front
We’re midway through the French-Indian War in my American History 120s, having blasted through Early Colonialism as rapidly as possible. There are important components which I will pick up later, namely triangular trade, mercantilism and the like when we approach the American Revolution. I didn’t waste any time on the Salem Witch Trials (I never do). On the other hand, I spent a significant amount of time laying down the foundation of slavery in America.
At our present pace, we should arrive at the first exam dates by the end of week five, start of week six. This is later than my peers, probably because I spend a lecture day or two talking about the nature of history in general. On the other hand, I’m further along on the timeline than many of them.
Not that it is a competition. Each teaches there own way. Fortunately for me, the majority of my peers recognize and respect this concept.
In American History 121 I’ve got a split between my two evening classes. One of them is about to fight the Spanish-American War after we spent time on the concept of Imperialism. Prior to that we used Andrew Carnegie as our focal point for the Second Industrial Revolution. And of course, we covered Reconstruction. In the other class we are just about to emerge from Reconstruction. Hopefully we’ll pick up speed over the next two weeks.
I’m building new exams for all classes this semester, generating new essay questions as we move along. I’ve been using the same essays for a couple of years now and it seems to be long past time to switch things up.
Once we clear the first exams I’ll proceed forward to the Pre-Revolutionary Era and Theodore Roosevelt respectively. I think I’ve got at least two to three good classes with the potential for a fourth if I can weed out the dead weight or get them to see the light. The first exam almost always serves as a wake up call for many of them. They’ll make a decision to double down or bail out based upon what happens in the next couple of weeks.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this period is that I provide ample warning for what is coming down the pike. It isn’t an ambush by any means, instead it is perhaps more akin to a carefully scripted training exercise. They are given metrics by which I will grade the exam in the form of commonly made mistakes. In many ways, it is another history lecture for the students, a history of their predecessors and how they tend to react to the first exams in my classes.
Sadly, they frequently ignore these warnings and advance to contact expecting to get through without too much trouble.
They are often sorely mistaken.
Lastly, I had a guest visit my classroom to see how I did business. She was there on the day we killed General Edward Braddock, a bastard in need of frequent killing if you ask me. Later when I talked with my guest, she said if she had more history instructors like me, she might have chosen a different discipline. She gave me high marks for getting my students to class on time, keeping their attention and moving forward at a brisk pace.
I’ve got to say, I always appreciate positive feedback concerning my teaching. Thanks!
The Writing Front
I was able to get fiction writing done on three separate instances this week. Next week, the plan is to increase that to four days a week, Monday through Friday, probably around the two pm time frame. That isn’t my strongest time creatively but it is open and the campus is relatively quiet.
I also transcribed some of the longhand material, tweaking and refining as I went. I’m pretty happy with the results so far.
The goal is to have a finished product ready by semester’s end. Perhaps I might sign up for the National Novel Writing Month competition. This is slated to become a novella sized project and I think the subject matter I’ll address warrants that much coverage.
It feels good to be back in the saddle again. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Woman I Love, Trinity, who got her vehicle back to operational status, freeing me from transport duties.
Thank you very much.
The Fitness Front
The transportation freedom mentioned above has given me the flexibility to focus on my efforts in the swimming pool. This week the goal was to complete 4000 yards by today. I fell short by a 1000 yards since I didn’t go today.
On the other hand, my weight is now down to 190.5 pounds, more than twenty pounds less than my January 2012 high of 212 pounds.
My energy levels are good on a relatively consistent basis. On the rare instance when I am late to class and I have to drop for push ups (I believe in paying for breaking my own syllabus rules, believe it or not) I can easily pump out more push ups than are actually required. In fact, I got applause in one class for pumping out twenty without too much effort.
Not bad, given that I had swam a thousand yards with a 25 push up warm up a mere thirty minutes earlier.
The only downside of the renewed fitness condition is that I often underestimate how much projection power I have.
I’ve become known as “The Loud One.”
The new glasses came in to replace the pair I busted last week. Now all we need to do is just count the days down to the next two pay days on the 22nd and the 1st respectively. Those resources should, finally, after ten months of economic misery, lost sleep and bubbling anger, allow us to patch the last of the major holes in the budget. Barring anymore disasters, we can move forward with getting our fiscal house in order.
I continue to read Dario Cirello’s Aegean Dream, a memoir of the time Dario and his wife spent in Greece. It is strange to be reading this while I am taking Spanish. The commentary on language troubles matches my own efforts at trying to speak Spanish intelligently.
Finally, the new Kindle arrived to replaced the dead one. I’ll pick it up from the landlord’s office tomorrow before I head off to training with the Lifeguard Company I work for.
So it goes. Things are getting better by the day, barring an exception or two. May the upward climb continue.
Steven Francis Murphy
Author of The Limb Knitter and Tearing Down Tuesday
North Kansas City, Missouri