Why I’m a teaching wimp

This post1 isn’t so much for all you instruction librarians out there, since you all probably know what I’m going to say already.  It’s more for any teaching faculty who might be out there (anyone? anyone? Bueller?) and anyone else who’s curious.

So most of my teaching for this semester is done: I have three more sessions for two classes coming up after Spring Break, and then, unless someone comes to me with a completely out-of-the-blue request (which could happen) that’s it for the semester.  It’s been relatively busy for a spring semester: I did ten sessions in February, which is the most I’ve done in any one month except for one September when I did twelve.

When scheduling classes, I try to limit myself to no more than three preps per week, and no more than one prep per day if I can possibly manage it.  One week this term I did five sessions (only three preps) and at the peak of the term, I did eight sessions in the space of eight workdays, which I think is a new record.  That was pretty rough and I was very very glad that most of those sessions were repeats of lesson plans that I’d done in previous semesters.

Any teaching faculty out there reading this? You’re probably either chortling with disdain or picking your jaw up off the floor right now. Double bonus points if you teach at a community college with a 5-5 load.

“What do you mean, only three preps per week?” you’re probably howling. “I do three preps per day some terms.  What a total wimp!”

Yep, I admit it.  But here’s the thing:  every class I teach is the first day of class.

It’s true: every time I meet a class, it’s the first — and most likely the only — time I meet with that class.  The term “one-shot” for a library instruction session means just that: I get one shot with these students, and I’d better hope that whatever I need to get across to them, even if it’s something as basic as “come ask us for help,” gets across.

Remember how exhausted you are after the first days of every term?  Now imagine that you had to do that every time you teach, and there was no opportunity to go back and fix anything you did wrong on the first day, or add a reminder of something you accidentally missed, or…well, anything.

Yeah, it’s exhausting. The real problem, though, is that it doesn’t scale well: I can’t do a whole lot (like, orders of magnitude) more instruction than I’m already doing, and our campus is going to need a whole lot more instruction than I’m already doing.  And we’ll need it soon, once our new General Education curriculum comes online.  I’m not at all sure what to do about that.

  1. Disclaimer: this post is by no means an argument for the tyranny of content. Just the opposite, in fact.

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  1. By I’m a teaching wimp too - Librarian X on March 3, 2010 at 11:59 am

    […] Pellegrino has a great post over at Spurious Tuples called “Why I’m a teaching wimp” about teaching fatigue that pretty well sums up how I feel this […]