Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Halfway up the well

I've been feeling pretty good about myself for the last week, because I've spent several hours each day diligently reading and commenting on student work that I should have read and commented on earlier in the semester.  I would look at my list, decide that I would read all the papers that had been turned in more than a week ago, and get at it.  When I resurfaced a few hours later, I congratulated myself on being so diligent.

Never mind that the group of papers I hadn't read turned a week old three days later, long before the glow of self-satisfaction wore off.  Never mind that in deciding to concentrate on papers, I was ignoring daily journal writing and revision that was already piled up before I started ignoring it, and didn't stop arriving while I was getting stuff done elsewhere.

I flatter myself that I did very well keeping up with student work this semester.  It was only in November, when the press of first-paper revisions and second-paper drafts started to overlap, that I started falling behind.  And here we are in the last week of class, I have several days of solid work behind me and feel like I should be on top of the pile given all the effort I've put in.

But the reality is that I'm hardly far enough up the well to get a glimpse of the sky.  That light I see is really a reflection from the water that's still just inches below my feet.  And my pride in putting in the hours and getting through the pile is mostly self-delusion.  There's nothing to do but dive back in tomorrow and try to stay at the same level -- or maybe slightly above.

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