Friday, December 09, 2011
The semester from HELL
Let me preface this by saying that I LOVE my students and I enjoy my work. And I certainly like a challenge.....
My kiddies this semester! I'll miss them ;)
BUT.......this has been the semester from hell!
And lots has happened since summer. I have not had a chance to write about it since I've been going non stop since August.
After my scam this past summer I loaded myself with stuff to do so that I would not have to think about the unfortunate situation. That, and I wanted to save money for a down payment for a condo. Yes, we are still living with mom and dad. And I get the feeling we'll be kicked out soon, especially since I've taken over her kitchen.
In August I took a 1 month intense teaching course that got me certified by Languages Canada and allows me to keep a teaching position at the university. Prior to that I didn't have any formal training in education, only 5 years of ESL teaching in South Korea. One requirement for the course was to write a minimum of 9 lesson plans. I took it a step further and went all out and actually made the entire components for the lesson. All the worksheets and games and cut outs......then I presented it in a binder (I'm a geek like that!):
I actually did quite well in the course. I graduated with a 98% but the biggest accomplishment came from my classmates. At the end of my final micro teaching another student told me in from of the class that I inspire her and that she wants to 'teacher' like me. It was actually one of the biggest compliments I have received and it just goes to show that you don't need a degree to do something well.
Then I got my first CORE class at the university. That means I was the MAIN teacher. Prior to that I was only teaching skills classes like writing and speaking. Along with teaching the CORE class I was also doing my teaching practicum--another requirement for the summer program. And on top of teaching the main class I was also a skills teacher too.
In the evening I was juggling my first graduate class. I had class on Monday night. And then about 150 + pages of reading to do each week. For those of you who know me well, then it should come as no surprise that I HATE reading. But I got through all of the articles and chapters of the book. REMEMBER?
Then I was working at Regina Open Door the other nights of the week. I had to quit that because my husband wanted to spend more time with me. And he was right...but I still miss them.
Then if that wasn't enough I started my own English tutoring company. This kind of just happened. One students turned into two, then......ten. I didn't advertise or put up posted or do anything special. I'm paying taxes, writing receipts and keeping track of expenses. I'm planning to register my business in the new year to make it the real deal. I teach evenings and weekends, which means I'm working 7 days a week. I'm so busy right now that I've had to turn down new students. And although I do not plan to quit my university job I know that I have the flexibility to do that if I want to pursue this avenue full time.
My friend Krista strongly encouraged me to apply for a government grant. I didn't have anything to lose by doing it (or so I thought at the time). But that sucked about 100+ hours out of my month because I had to put together a proposal for my program of study. The problem that I had was that I'm just a new grad student so at this point I didn't even have a supervisor or any idea of what I wanted to research. AND I wasn't even registered in the thesis route (a must for this application). When I walked into the advising office and said that I wanted to put together an application for this grant they basically laughed at me and told me it wasn't possible and that it was highly competitive and that I basically shouldn't bother. I went home that night and started......
I was on a mission to prove them wrong. So I sent individual emails to all the professors that I thought would be interested in what I wanted to study (I found their email on the university website). I made individual appointments with all of them (5 in total) and had them look over my SSHRC 2-page application. One professor made me almost cry in her office as she laughed at my lack of knowledge regarding research methodology. I immediately went to the library and got a research methodology book. A couple of professors encouraged me and said it was good I was going through this process but it was still a bit premature (I was only half way into my first grad class and this is a grant for the thesis component of my degree). All the professors sent me away with suggestions and revisions, minus the one that almost made me cry since she refused to look at my proposal. The suggestions they made were HUGE and basically I had to start my proposal all over again. I had already invested about 50 hours at this time and considered quitting. Krista encouraged me to keep going.
At this point, with only 2 weeks left until the application deadline, I put my nose to the grind. For the next 2 weeks I stayed up until 4 am researching, reading, writing, and re-editing. After several more drafts I sent it away for a second set of revisions from the professors. Only minor changes were to be made at this point. Then I trotted into the advising office application in hand the day it was due.
After finishing that, I had to turn my attention back over to my grad class and put together a group presentation. Then I had to write a final exam for my university ESL class. Then I had to write a 15 page research paper for my grad class. Then I had to correct university final exams.
Then, I had to complete the biggest project at the university to date. I wrote the entire curriculum for the basic grammar and writing class at the University of Regina.
It's my first publication:
Finished at 1:15 am on Thursday December 9th -- 10 hours before it's due!
AND NOW MY FRIENDS, I'M A FREE WOMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My grad class is over, the ESL semester is done........I'm done writing papers, I'm done writing exams..........I'm ready for a day to myself.
Tomorrow I'm sleeping in ;)