Saturday, May 26, 2012

Overtaxed. (Non-monetarily)

I've been ramming myself into the brick wall of exhaustion all week, and it finally knocked me over this afternoon. All week I've been working all day in order to come home and work some more until midnight. Today I had to get up early to run our program's booth at a conference (By myself. Being yelled at and questioned by a crazy person that security had to come and remove from my booth.), and by the time I got back home, I could no longer string together a coherent sentence.

For me, exhaustion normally manifests itself in one of two ways: I either (1) sit down on the couch and become mentally and emotionally vacant for about a day as I watch television episode after television episode on Netflix, or (2) I experience a temporary existential crisis; my emotions reach maximum volatility (weeping for no explainable reason, irrational anger, snapping at my husband: "No! C.S. Lewis did NOT say that, it was Walter Miller in Canticle for Leibowitz... Stop being so gnostic!"); and usually I end up wandering aimlessly from room to room, sitting somewhere extremely uncomfortable without being able to muster the energy or will to get up (or feed myself, so my blood sugar plummets and I feel even worse), and eventually I lie face down on the floor shouting "I'm not real!!!! I'm not a person anymore!!!" at my husband. Because I no longer feel capable of being human. I can't think, can't act rationally, and I feel overwhelmingly guilty for it.

Today, it was all of the above.

I am sooooo ready to be done with this academic year.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dear Students,

This is why I won't give you an A.

Every semester. EVERY SEMESTER I have to deal with students and parents who are disappointed, frustrated, or occasionally enraged because I am not giving them/their students higher grades on their assignments. Every year, parents tell me that last year's tutor would have given their student an A, that my expectations are unreasonable, and that I'm ruining their students' lives by dragging their GPAs down. And, to add a whole new angle to the article, because I work in Christian education, parents sometimes also imply that my commitment to quality work is unchristian. "Jesus only requires our best work, and my student is doing her best," they tell me, or "Is there no room for mercy in your philosophy of education? Why must you insist on a standard of perfection?"

I try to tell them that good work (and nothing else) is good work, that an A is not the only good grade, and that when their students actually earn an A, they know that they will deserve it. Sometimes they trust me, struggle, learn, and grow. Sometimes they drop my classes after they accuse me of being heartless, tell me I'm too young and don't know what I'm doing, verbally abuse me (sometimes in person, sometimes over email), and complain about me to my boss.

Hearing someone else verbalize this struggle is a balm to some of the still-raw wounds I'm carrying from this year. I've got two weeks left until summer.

Lord, have mercy.