Something is in the water this semester: in addition to the steady stream of printer and hard drive issues, there have also been Personal Problems Galore. These PPGs have included no less than 5 family deaths, a few moves, some unexpected babysitting gigs, and of course, Work.
My dear friend Nancy, a professor of Art History at various colleges around the city, has been long after me to toughen up with my students. She flunks hers in rapid fire. While I believe it's my job to hold students accountable for their work, there's inevitably a softer side that comes out; call it my pity chorus. "Sure, you can leave it in my mailbox."
This semester, I can for the first time in almost a decade of teaching, understand how burnout happens. To avoid it, I plan on avoiding my end of semester ritual of chasing students for late work, incomplete forms, and emailing their advisors. That said, I'm open and flexible to the small handful of genuine hard workers who have a lot on their plates. These are the few who communicate closely with me about catching up, and follow through; if you're reading this, you know who you are.
I'll never forget my own dear Professor Staley, from SUNY Albany, who gave me that much needed extension after a long weekend of waitressing doubles at El Loco. What I remember most about this interaction is that it was rare and terrifying for me to ask him. It didn't resemble the rehearsed mumbles I get daily, the ones that run into one another from class to class, that blend and sound the same in both their laziness and tragedy. When I was paying for my own education, it meant something to me; I held myself accountable for my work and didn't expect professors to do it for me. It was college, after all! Not every chapter of Ulysses got read, but I did my best, read my work over for grammar and spelling before I turned it in, and gave true meaning to the phrase All Nighter. Looking back, the few teachers who taught me the most, and who I still cherish to this day, are the ones who made me work. So step it up.