This break I’ve taken the opportunity to finally get my apartment organized. Really organized, not the quick, sort of but really organized thing I usually do. I have plenty of reasons for doing this, but namely, I’m tired of not being able to find things or even better, not finding things, purchasing them, and then discovering that the item was buried underneath other items. Also, because of not having an office at school and my late night writing tendencies, I generally work from home, so I prefer having some physical organization amidst the mental chaos of doing schoolwork. Although I am not the kind of person who does these huge cleaning projects frequently, I do find it somewhat relaxing to get rid of things, organize better, etc.

One would think with the amount of moving that I have done in the past 8 or so years that I would’ve really cleared out all the excessive, but I have not. Well, each move has involved getting rid of items, but there were still plenty of things that were just here without any purpose. I had gotten into the habit of archiving old schoolwork, thinking “What if I need to remember these things?” Occasionally, they have been very handy but now that I’m on a different career path, I’m questioning whether I need a lot of what I have. I did some major discarding as a result.

I feel like it’s much more pleasant to work in my space now that there isn’t so much clutter. The massive cleaning/organization project isn’t complete; I’m in the midst of hunting for nice but affordable drawer organizing accessories. But even with what I’ve done so far, working at home has gone better than before.

Advertisements

I began this week with extremely sore muscles from Bharatanatyam on Sunday. Basically, we did some floorwork-esque dancing. My quads- well, I could feel my muscles working every step of the way; straightening my leg was difficult. Today is the first day my quads feel normal. That made everything take at least twice as long. I also attended dance class Tuesday and found out that was tougher than I had anticipated because of my quads. However, I don’t believe that attending class exacerbated or prolonged my achy quads.

The second big time consumer this week was that someone tried breaking into my apartment. Nothing was stolen and no one was injured, thank goodness (my SO caught the guy trying to come into the window), but it is still nerve-wracking. The police were called, they came out to investigate, etc. Although I am thankful that the local police were very concerned and did a fine job, it did take time. My landlord is supposed to stop by this weekend to ensure secure windows. This set back my week, because I had work that I needed to cram in today and tomorrow.

Hopefully, due to the holiday, next week will go back to normal.

Time is kicking my butt. One hidden perk of having one full-time job is that you typically can stay put. Having three jobs means I live out of my bookbag and my T pass gets plenty of use.

My students are doing okay. Some are a little intimidated by physics. I think it’s good that they already can identify their weak spots, but I hope that they can get over these mental hurdles; they seem to think they can’t do it. My math class has warmed up to me, but the challenge here is to make sure that I’m not going too fast and can fill a lecture. Two hours is a lot of time, and I haven’t taken a pure math course in about 5 years. I don’t remember how many examples we’d go through or the structure that much, which makes it a bit more difficult for me to plan.

The afterschool math program is a challenge. My first day was rocky, and I think the program is still in its infancy. There isn’t anything to base my material off of, and the students are resistant to change. Well, they’re resistant to anything that isn’t what they want to do (hanging out). That makes it a challenge. Writing calc problems has been rewarding but frustrating; I’m always checking to make sure that the problems aren’t too difficult but aren’t trivial and that the wording makes sense. I submitted 30 of them today, and I’m anxiously awaiting what my boss has to say. I hope he likes them!

I’ve also been going to dance class and fitting in practices. I think this next week will be more relaxing because I’m establishing a schedule.

I don’t think I mentioned that I have 3 jobs. I mentioned teaching as an adjunct and working as a middle school after school teacher to make math fun and exciting. My third job is writing problems for an integral calculus textbook. I feel like I live out of my bookbag, because I’m transporting stuff to and fro; at least with the calc job, I can work from home. That is, if my heat were working. Yes, it’s broken again. Fourth time in 3 months. However, I digress.

My students seems like a decent bunch of people for my adjunct teaching. Granted, I’ve only seen them once or twice, but they’re showing up on time and have been cooperative. I think last semester was really about them not having a professor for the bulk of the time. Unfortunately, last semester still haunts me, because one student is still upset with a grade. It was a very cut and dry failure, nothing borderline. I felt kind of bad failing the kid, because he is nice, but the numbers spoke for themselves.

In terms of my middle school job, they are middle schoolers. The challenge is to make math fun and exciting and more interactive than a workshop on what appears to be a low budget. We don’t have supplies and can’t use supplies, even meter sticks, that are in the school we’re using. Does anyone have any good ideas? I would typically turn to physics or cooking, giving them fun experiments, but I don’t have the supplies. They’re also 8th graders so they are too cool for a lot of things, like math.

I’m not sure about the calc problem writing yet, because I’m starting that project today. I roughly need to create 15-30 problems per week of varying difficulty. I estimate that I can do about 4-5 problems/hour. While the pay is okay ($5/problem), I’m more interested in becoming a better problem writer. I’m okay right now, but students have caught small details I have left out that I need to clarify. I sometimes assume things are implicit. For instance, today, we figured out whether a distance seemed reasonable when taking a trip to California. I assumed that everyone would think “Boston to California”, so I didn’t think to write it in. It’s a minor clarification, but I’d like to get to the point of not needing to do that. Well, practice makes perfect.

Everything was completed yesterday, just in the nick of time to go to dance class. It was also done in the nick of time for me to get sick today. I suspect it has something to do with my heat being broken. While I was planning a more productive day than lying around in bed, watching crime shows (I’m a fan of Law and Order: SVU and Castle), there are worse things to had. As long as I don’t leave my bed, I’m quite warm.

Actually, the semester cannot quite sleep soundly, I’m afraid. I had one student already try to argue his grade up because he wasn’t happy with it. Well, that’s not a good reason for getting a better grade; even though the holiday break has begun, he thought we should meet to discuss his grade. Final grades were due, and I don’t believe in grades being argued. This isn’t the movie Clueless, after all. I work out a rubric before I even begin grading. It’s simpler in the long run, and I think it’s more impartial; items are given various weights because I think they’re more important, not because a student I like did poorly on something and I think it shouldn’t be weighed as heavily as a result. I take my time grading and try to do things in their favor.

One of the biggest issues of contention for my exams was that I give them physics words or terms to give definitions to; unfortunately, the student who is upset about his grade is one of the ones who despises the whole vocab thing. I genuinely believe it’s important for people to articulate what they mean in science; otherwise, we’re just doing math. I think, if you have some genuine understanding of what’s going on, you should be able to write something. For this past exam, I wanted them to write things in their own words. I usually give definitions to them as an examples. The exam prior to the final- all the students memorized exactly what I gave them. I was surprised and not pleased; while I’m glad they took the initiative to study that part, memorizing definitions shows no understanding whatsoever. I can memorize Spanish or Arabic or a myriad of other languages, but I don’t know what they mean. They were not thrilled about this, but I genuinely believe that part of a class is communication and understanding what’s being communicated; you have to learn the lingo. Heck, I would be happy if they would write their own definitions prior to the exam, make sure they’re good, and then memorize the heck out of them.

I heard that it’s standard for some students to think that they can argue their grades and with time, they cool down and decide to concentrate their energies elsewhere.

Moving and working means I’ve been quite busy. Last week, I was keeping myself afloat best I can in life. I luckily have been able to keep myself ahead of the game with the students, but I’ve also had a mound of grading to do. Then I come home to clean, figure out how I’m getting certain items I don’t have (pots, pans, whatever) from Craig’s List or otherwise. My cats have been adjusting, as well, which has been some work; my one cat was having a hissing fit with the other two.

Last week, besides the moving stress, was a bit stressful because students like to argue grades. I’m not sure if it’s the nature of the beast, being female, or being young (or a combination), but a handful of students have mindblowingly crazy attitudes. It varies from telling me that I’m not fair for holding their grades to the syllabus, which they not only received prior to me but also we talked about when I did arrive, to being mad at me when they don’t understand what’s going on in class because they were absent and refuse to visit me during my tutoring hours. I’m not trying to be mean or harsh, but sometimes I’m astounded with the lack of accountability on the students’ behalf. I understand life is hard, but you have to take control of things. Thank goodness it’s only a handful, but they can sour things fast. I luckily have some fantastic students who may not totally understand physics, but they’re willing to work at it and not become accusative.

I’m also trying to make decisions on the rest of my life. Do I go to grad school next year (or rather, try to)? What kind of job do I want? And so on. Our work schedules for the next semester have not come out yet, which is stressful. While everyone at work insists that they keep people on as long as they can, there is no guarantee. I’m not trying to be negative or think for the worst, but the reality is I have a contract for so long. So in addition to trying to make long term plans, I am trying to keep my options open for the shorter term.

During my spare moments last week, I’ve also been exploring dance options. I discovered that the studio I used to attend offers a work-study program for dance classes, so I applied to there. I’m also looking at taking a drop-in ballet class. Once I have a feel for my job situation, I’ll likely return to Odissi classes here (or possibly Bharatanatyam). I would love to find a Flamenco class, but I a) don’t want to overextend myself and b) don’t know where one is.

A good part of me is interested in establishing a social life here of sorts; the last time I lived in the area, a bunch of my friends were here. They have either moved away, or we’ve gone very separate life paths at this point. I don’t want to go out all the time, but it’d be nice to hang out with some other people.

So that’s me in a nutshell for now. I think that I should be able to update more frequently next week, but who knows?

To a completely different apartment than the last one I had described. This one was simply a better deal. The apartment has more than enough space for me and three cats. I have a room I intend on using for a dance/yoga studio, which is nice. It’s plenty of room for veil. I’m also on ground floor, so if I resume to louder forms of dance (Flamenco, Odissi), noise won’t be much of a concern.

It is weird having my own space and having to maintain it after literally living out of a suitcase for the past 2 months or so. It is strange to be alone and only surrounded by cats. I don’t mind it necessarily, this is just s change. I feel like I’m slowly getting myself into a routine. I’m a fairly habitual person. I’m not so stuck in my ways that I won’t ever change, but I do appreciate consistency to some degree.

I will resume blogging more once I have better internet. I am currently using the town’s wireless internet (no contract, first month only 1 dollar), but it’s spotty.