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....