Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fighting burn-out...sometimes you lose

Spring semesters are normally difficult for me. I always seem to be sapped from the work of the fall, and for some reason the majority of students taking my courses during this time have deep-seated maturity/work ethic issues that make even the most banal subjects in chemistry (i.e. metric untis) an impossibility to teach. These two factors combine to create an academic undertow, a vortex of frustration pulling down my spirits.

Normally, I can shake off these late winter blues during the first couple of weeks by learning to accept the shortcomings of my students. This semester, however, it has been very difficult for me to just go with the flow. I am afraid that I have hit a "third-year wall".

What do I mean by this made-up term? Well, in my case, it's now my third year of teaching, and I have exhausted all of the little classroom tricks that I learned as a graduate teaching assistant. I am now at a point where I can't try anything new or ground-breaking, especially considering the woefully inadequate preparation of the students in my institution. The result of hitting this wall is plain, old fashioned burn-out.

I have tried numerous ways to try to get motivated to be in the classroom, to re-ignite my engines. Unfortunately, I seem unable to climb out of this funk. The only hope I have seems to be this...maybe this burn-out is like the flu. If I can wait out this semester, hopefully I can recover my motivation.