Monday, May 21, 2007

Where's the "pause" button?

I need one on my life.

Today was a drag. This is the part of the academic quarter when everything shifts into overdrive. The strategy classes turn in term papers and are doing three-a-day decisions, the Principles of Management class is getting ready for final exams and presentations, and everyone is wiped out from the combination of stress and exhaustion. My final exams are pretty much ready to go, but 2/3 of the term papers I've been expecting just landed on my desk, and it's freaking me out just to see the size of the pile sitting there, knowing that I'll be getting forty more tomorrow. And today is Monday, so I had the six-hour lecture gauntlet to run, which was made immeasurably worse by technological glitches. How can I possibly have tech problems in a classroom setting, you ask? Well, in a 21st-century college of business, it's assumed that we will teach our graduates to use (and stay abreast of) current technology, and as such we try to integrate it in our classes. Trouble is, there's a point at which technology is so much a part of your methods that it's indispensible, and then when you arrive at a classroom to find that the faculty workstation you use for lectures and/or simulation just bought the farm, it can be dammed difficult to improvise something on the spot. This happened to me not once, but TWICE today. It's especially maddening when you see evidence that the system is in the process of being worked on (like, it's in pieces), but nobody thought to warn the professors who were going to have to actually *teach a class* in that room today. Even with a heads-up it still would have sucked, but a few minutes' warning is still better than nothing.

I'm sure anyone who teaches in a K-12 classroom probably rolls their eyes when I rant about stuff like this. And there used to be a time (in my previous life as a corporate drone) when I would have had backups at the ready in case something like this happened. But there's a big difference between putting on a few presentations a year and doing several longer ones each week... I just don't have the time to plan for every contingency like this. Especially when I'm in the last part of the academic term, where there's no room for schedule adjustments. Argh.

I wish I could say that music was going swimmingly by contrast, but it seems that the overload just seems to screw that up, too. This became apparent at last week's lesson, when I just couldn't demonstrate any noticeable progress on some of the things I was working on. Clearly, I just haven't had the kind of practice time I had in previous months, and although the results were certainly predictable, that doesn't make me any less frustrated about the situation. Put simply, I'm burned out, and it's spilling over into EVERYTHING.

But enough of the self-pity, since it's just an unproductive use of even more time I can't spare. There was a Twilight Zone episode once where a guy had a stopwatch that would stop time when he pressed the right button. I used to wonder what I'd do if I had a watch like that. Now I just wonder if I'd have the energy to do anything at all...

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