(Is that even an expression? I think maybe it's not, and yet it seems to express my sense of exhaustion and overwhelmedness. Which also may not be a real word.)
Dang, it's been a tiring week!
Classes started on Wednesday, and then we had a reeeeally long day of class retreats on Thursday, and then on Friday we had an all-school half-day retreat that's supposed to be oodles of fun but was only so-so. (Although a colleague and I did lead several of our fellow-teachers in a chorus of the theme from "The Love Boat," which was rather a highlight.)
The first day of classes went really well, but then the day took a sharp downturn with the line of new international students lined up outside my door to protest their English placement. One problem is that they see being placed in an ESL rather than a "regular" course as a source of great shame, both personally and nationally. The other problem is that I have no training in assessing the language skills of non-native English speakers, so I'm not at all confident that I'm right in their placement; of course I don't tell them that exactly, but I do give them additional placement tests and worry the heck out of every decision I make. It's all caused me extraordinary distress over the last few days, although I'm trying to forget about it over the weekend, since I can do nothing about it right now anyway.
So far, I'm finding being department head to be just fine when I'm dealing with my colleagues and a huge pain and source of stress when dealing with the students, which is the exact opposite of what I had expected.
And the other exhaustion is that D. has been excited but overwhelmed and stressed out about her new job, in part because new faculty orientation involved hours of sitting and listening to information that doesn't seem necessary or important but a decided lack of information that she really needs. Plus her classroom was kind of a disaster area; there are these deep cupboards on one wall that have clearly been used over the last few years as the place that teachers stuck things that they didn't know what else to do with. And teachers in different subjects had taught there, so it was full of books and equipment she didn't need, as well as old printers, empty cardboard boxes, old candy, a tub of green plastic army men (?) -- this sort of thing.
I went in to work with her today, and we spent almost five hours of physical labor getting things straightened out and cleaned up -- rearranging furniture, creating a huge pile of books and other things that other teachers can pick through before it all goes in the rubbish bin, trying to figure out what previous teachers have done in her courses, and other order-out-of-chaos tasks.
The room was looking much better by the time we knocked off for the day, and it is an absolutely lovely classroom: one entire wall of windows looking out onto trees, fabulous purple walls (that are NOT made of cinderblock, unlike my classroom), a round red rug, a glider rocking chair for her to relax in when she's not teaching -- altogether bright and cheerful.
We're going to go back in tomorrow for a couple of hours to hang art on the walls, and then she'll feel much better about the whole place. Her classes don't start for another week, because the school is in the midst of a two-week intensive ESL camp for their new international students. So if on Tuesday she has a classroom she feels good about and knows what books have been ordered and can be ordered, she can actually dig into the class planning she needs to do.
So things are all good (other than my ESL troubles -- but even then, the add-drop period only lasts for another week and a half), but whew diggity, I'm exhausted!