Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Get Your Front Row Seats to the Greatest Nervous Breakdown EVER

It's happening already. I can feel it bubbling just under the surface, waiting to strike, like the kind of gas you have after bad chorizo from a questionable taqueria. This is that time of year when my job completely goes apeshit on my life and I have no energy left for anything else - things like a social life, for example. And blogging.

Even though school hasn't officially started yet, FREAKING THE F--- OUT officially started yesterday. (Unofficial freaking out started the day I left for Africa, though, so at least I'm well-prepared for the official freak out season.) Now I'm at the stage where I go in to school every day and force myself to stay there for hours staring at the computer screen hoping that lesson plans will magically appear.

(Of course, I think it's important to note that if any lesson plans were to magically appear, I would probably freak out EVEN MORE because seriously? Lesson plans should not just magically appear like that. Leprechauns should magically appear, and unicorns, and even flying manatees. But not lesson plans.)

I'm getting distracted here. That is also a symptom of this time of year - anything even remotely shiny will totally derail my work for hours. I think I lost at least half a day for a bubble gum wrapper last week. Not the outer packaging, but the inside wrapper that's kind of like foil, but not the thick aluminum foil you use to wrap up leftover meatloaf, but the thin foil that I really only ever see on gum. Totally sent me off on a tangent that I couldn't escape, and the next thing I knew I'd knocked over a 7-11 and guest starred on an episode of 30 Rock. That was a hell of a day, and I will definitely tell that story sometime.

But that time is not now. Now I am stressing out over work. Let me see if I can explain why I'm as stressed as I am:

Last year I taught two different classes - one Honors English class and one French class. I had three sections of the English class and one section of the French class. I also monitored a study hall, which gave me a little extra grading and prep time each day.

Sounds manageable, right? Right. Although we all remember how bad last year was, even with a schedule as "manageable" as that one.

This year I've been asked to teach four different classes - two different Honors English classes, one ballroom dance class, and one French class. And I have no study hall. For those doing the math, that means that it's twice the workload with less prep and grading time.

(But the same salary as if my schedule had stayed the same. I can't even make myself feel better with shoe shopping sprees? The HORROR!)

Shall we start a pool right now for when I head back to the psych ward? If I were you, I'd put my money somewhere in early October, but no guarantees I'll make it that long.

Okay, I need to make a few disclosures here: First, I agreed to this schedule - no one's holding a gun to my head, though it would certainly make this a more interesting post if they were. I wanted to keep my original Honors English class, and I was SO excited when they proposed a ballroom dance class for me to teach. When it turned out there was going to be a need for someone to teach a section of the other Honors class, I was willing - and even a little excited - to pick that one up too. But the French? Well you see, I made the mistake of saying, "I really don't want to teach it, please find someone else to teach it, but if you can't find someone else to teach it, and you're absolutely desperate, then I'll teach it again." And that, right there, was the nail in my coffin - saying I was willing to do it if necessary. Next year I'm saying, "NO WAY, I WILL NEVER EVER TEACH FRENCH EVER AGAIN!" And I will hold a sign while I say it so they see the all caps and know that I'm not joking around.

Second, I'm not mad at anyone about this, except for maybe at myself for not saying the whole, "I WILL NEVER EVER TEACH FRENCH EVER AGAIN!" thing this year. It's not the school's fault that no one wanted the job that I so badly wanted to give up. (On a side note, I suppose I wasn't the greatest poster child for selling that job, given how much I HATED teaching French. It's like when your friends are all, "Ew, this is disgusting, here, smell it," and then shove it in your face until you can hardly breathe from trying to avoid smelling it, but eventually you have to smell it and you're all, "Oh my GAWD that's so gross, I wish I'd never smelled it." Maybe this is why no one wanted the French job.) I wish I could be mad at someone - because then I'd have somewhere to vent all the stress and frustration - but I really can't.

Third, if I want to look at it this way - which I obviously don't, because this is the third point rather than the first - this schedule is a compliment. When I first got word that I was getting all four classes, the explanation was, "No one else can do it - you're the only one we can give these classes to!" At the time, I was very upset, so I kind of wanted to shout at her, "So I'm being PUNISHED for being GOOD AT MY JOB?!" But I wasn't raised in a barn, all evidence to the contrary, so I shouted nothing of the kind. I think I burst forth with something exceedingly eloquent like, "Ehm, yeah, huh..." I am such a good speaker.

I am going to go insane this year. I know it with every fiber of my being, even though I don't get enough fiber in my diet most days. I want to crawl into a hole and die already, and school hasn't even started yet. When school does start, I will probably want to crawl into a hole and die in a huge explosion that also takes out everyone in a four-mile radius, because I will hate the world so much by then that I will have decided they should all suffer too.

Are you excited? Are you stoked? Are you waiting on the edge of your seat for the awesomeness that is going to be this year? Because YOU SHOULD BE.

It's going to be amazing. Like all the best train wrecks are.


Anonymous said...

Wow, you have a hectic time ahead of you. Try not to think only of the insanity inducing crazy, instead think of all those young minds you are helping to mould, to shape into wonderful young adults and be proud. Good luck :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds insane!!! Alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol.

unmitigated me said...

Don't worry. Madam Pomme de Terre- Tete will be there to help.

kris said...

I encourage the wine as well. You sound like you have the gumption to pull through though -- hope that writing it out helps in some way.

Lindz said...

You can do it! I know you can, we both survived our first year of teaching last year and didn't even fall victim to budget cuts! Ballroom dancing won't require you to correct papers. If you need help with French, remember that I am a Spanish teacher and our lessons are literally interchangeable! I'm happy to help you out.

My advice, use as many lessons over again that you can. Are your honors classes different levels? Could you use the same plans in the classes but with different literature? And do your best NOT to stay at school too late even if you have to take some work home.

P.S. I think you're NUTS for going into school this early. I refuse to and I also refuse to go to stores that are selling school supplies (which limits my shopping A LOT.)

tpiglette said...

I'll be right there with you to help in whatever way I can. Not the same as not having French, I know, but hopefully even a tiny help is better than none. And yes, it IS a compliment to you and all your qualifications, and yes, you should DEFINITELY refuse to teach French again in the future. Hrmph! Hrmph, I say. (Can you see me shaking my fist?)

fjd said...

Good luck!

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

ACK! Well you know what? You can only do so much, so try to relax while the chaos tries to envelope you. It can be a crazy situation, but it's how you choose to respond to the crazy situation that will keep you afloat. Detach and treat it like a movie that you're watching. If French Class falls flat on its butt, then maybe they'll think twice before giving it to you again.

BetteJo said...

My thought is - last year was your first year. Every year you will find new ways of doing things and will be able to tighten up your prep and ... oh hell, maybe you SHOULD drink!

Jessica R. said...

I really only have one VERY important question. Where should I bring the booze. And the chocolate?

Seriously though, second years are always easier, even if the work load is way higher. And if you EVER need help with the French, even if it's just for an extra pair of eyes on the material, I'm happy to serve you a lovely glass of French wine and chat it over with you. Anytime.

Sandra said...

You can totally do this AND you will be amazing. I am the most productive and engaged and energized when I am swamped. It'll be tough ... but alcohol could certainly help :)

Rowyn said...

I just wanted to weigh in a vote against becoming an alcoholic ;-). Which isn't a vote against all alcohol ever, just against addiction or compulsion or consumption to the point of health problems and negative social consequences. Good luck; I know you can do it, even though it will at times be stressful and grueling and insane.

bernthis said...

you make my almost happy to not have a full time job

Lisa said...

First of all, the other day I had a MAJOR freak out about school starting. Only teachers get the whole August panic. The whole "Ahh, I haven't done NEARLY enough and my job is going to resume which means my life will end which means I need to simultaneously suck every second of enjoyment out of my remaining summer days while also getting ten thousand things done for school" mode. It kinda sucks.
That aside, I kinda can't believe you are even allowed to take on so many different classes contractually. It sounds tough.
THAT aside, I know all about the whole "good at your job so you get screwed" thing. Happens to me ALL The time. I always (try) to take comfort in the fact that someone, somewhere, thinks I'm amazing enough to Do It All. And then you do the best you can. And it's probably going to be pretty damn amazing.
Hang in.....

talesofmy30s said...

Cannot imagine teaching anyone another language (and I minored in German in college).

Good luck. (Notice no exclamation point, that's on purpose, ha ha.)