The department chair gig seems to be going really well so far. The whole business of assessing new international students' English and placing them in classes is over, and no crises have arisen (knock on wood), and things are going smoothly. It turns out that I run an efficient and high-spirited department meeting and that I am prompt and detail-oriented in addressing issues and responding to queries, and several colleagues have been vocal in their praise of my work and their appreciation for what I'm doing, which is lovely. (Some of them have been so vocal, in fact, that it's already feeling like it's going to be awkward when Dr. B, the "real" chair, comes back, but there's plenty of time to worry about that later on.) I'm soaking up all of this praise while it's happening, because I completely understand that I will screw up, or will be perceived to have screwed up, at some point; this is simply the nature of things, and I accept it. And, although I say it as shouldn't, it's nice to receive praise that one knows is entirely well-deserved!
But dang, this job nibbles away at one's time! It is easy to spend pretty much all of my free class blocks in emailing and in checking in with various teachers and administrators, and day after day I begin the school day confident that I will get class prep and grading done during such-and-such block of time, only to find at the end of the day that I have done none of my "real work" -- i.e., teaching work -- and only addressed chair stuff.
I'm beginning to dread the words "Do you have just a minute?," although I also must confess that I am far guiltier than I used to be of using those same words towards others.
I'm really enjoying the work, far more than I had anticipated; I am supporting some new colleagues and helping another in a new role, I'm finding the evaluation process thus far a wonderful chance to encourage younger colleagues, and I'm even helping to smoothe and nurture a somewhat tense relationship between a couple of folks in the department. All good.
But my raison d'être at FGS is teaching, and I'm getting tired of flying by the seat of my pants in class and of living with the guilt of not being caught up on teaching. I've been giving myself a break and not being judgmental about any of this, since not only am I doing new work with the department chair position but there's also been all the stress of D's Crazytown job saga. So I'm not chastising myself, but I must change the situation for my own mental health!
So this is the weekend of grading and sleeping, grading and sleeping. The goal is to start the week on Monday all caught up and planned ahead and then afterward to be more realistic about what I'm actually going to get done while at school, since I know that at any moment someone is going to stick his or her head in the door and ask, "Do you have just a minute?"