Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sparse posts + fuzzy brain

My posting has been a bit sparse recently, mainly because of being rather busy at work and being a bit under the weather. There's been a virus going round, and though I've avoided being really ill and officially "off sick" like several colleagues, I've got to the point where my brain goes into fuzzy cotton-wool mode and I don't feel capable of stringing many coherent thoughts together.

Not a problem for a blog, as you can pick it up again when you feel like it, but not great for teaching. Sometimes I find it a strange type of job, as there's a big 'performance' element involved that's quite different to any other work I've done in the past. If you don't feel well in an office job, you can slump over a desk all day, keeping the cups of coffee coming and doing things twice as slowly as usual, dosed up with paracetamol and knowing that you can always finish work off tomorrow. You're there in body, if not in spirit, minimising your sick record even though you're not being exactly productive. Operating in auto-pilot is enough.

You can't really do that with teaching, as you put yourself out there in front of loads of people for a specific time-slot and have to 'deliver', as the jargon goes. I've been doing it for about 6 years now, but still find it difficult when I feel a bit crap. Not spouting completely incomprehensible bollocks (I hope) but feeling like my brain-to-speech co-ordination isn't quite what it should be. Sometimes I feel that I should really be tucked up in bed with a cup of tea, only emerging to watch repeats of Columbo on the telly, but it's not an option.

I know it's not just me, as other tutors say exactly the same things and they've been doing it for absolutely ages... they ask each other how it went, sometimes good but sometimes not great, then plunge into gloom and self-doubt for a while, before having to get on with the next session. It's not always like that (fortunately) as when it goes well, you come out with your head buzzing with ideas, feeling really elated. I thought there might be a magic formula for making every session great, but it seems there isn't.

Luckily, some things have been strangely engaging, which has been a nice diversion from the sickly teaching misery. Not sure why a student was muttering 'justice' over and over again, while working on her Powerpoint presentation of brown poo-shaped lumps of plasticine, but it was a particularly incongruous and slightly surreal sight as she was very happy and smiley. Maybe I'll ask about the meaning of the lumps next week, as they've been rather, erm, thought-provoking.

The same day, I couldn't help having a quick snigger from a safe distance at the sight of a TV shopping channel presenter in the local supermarket. She was stalking around the aisles, pushing her trolley while having a very loud conversation on her mobile phone, obviously dressed for a night out in her killer stilettos. Ooops, she didn't realise she was dragging a long trail of plastic tear-off vegetable bags behind her, tangled around her heels in a bedraggled train of cellophane. She had that "do you know who I am? I'm famous!" manner, which made her look sillier than if it were you or me trailing old rubbish behind us.
I thoughtfully gestured towards the plastic bag mess before she tripped herself up, but she just glared at me. Maybe I should have waited until she got inextricably entwined in the vegetable racks....

Anyway, I suppose I really ought to do some work now. At least I've already done the handouts. Perhaps I can redeem myself this week....


deb said...

Don't overdo too soon!

Does that student realize that poop-art has already been done? A couple months ago a large one showed up at our art association. I call it The Giant Turd.

Claire said...

Ooh no, bodily functions will be an endless source of fascination as long as people exist, artists or otherwise!

Not 'art' but my brother made some pretend cat turds when he was a kid, all realistically shaped from paper mache and lovingly painted and varnished. Better than plastic ones from joke shops - much 'classier'! He placed them around the house and then sniggered when mum thought they were real. It never occurred to him to make a career out of them!

Annette said...

Oh claire,
I know how you feel.
I have been of work now for two weeks, with a cold and then it turned into a chest infection.
I will be going back to work on monday but I still don't feel right. (I rarely do anyway actually) but you know what I mean!
I'm never ill so this is a shock to my system.Only hope I don't give it to geoff, my husband, you know what they are like when they are ill!!
Hope you feel better soon.

Claire said...

Thanks Annette, everyone I know seems ill at the moment. Hope you get better soon too, it's crap going back to work when you don't feel right.