Scene: Our kitchen. A couple of weeks ago.
Raj: Almost done with finals?
Me: Two due Monday and two due Thursday. After Thursday, I'll be a whole new woman.
Raj: (hopefully) Natalie Portman?
Unfortunately, no. Still me, just breathing a whole lot easier. And with so much free time! When I finish writing this, I'm going to clean out the big closet under the stairs where I have been steadily shoving things for months now. God only knows what might be in there. (If God knows about any centipedes, He could do me a solid by relocating them outside in the next several minutes. Amen.)
Turns out four grad school classes at once, while inadvisable, is do-able. At least, as long as you only work about twelve hours a week and have no children. It probably doesn't hurt to have your husband gone for a couple of months of the semester either. Fewer distractions and less cooking.
Finishing this semester means seven classes down, four to go. I'm enrolled in one this summer and the other three in the fall, so I should be able to graduate in December. Score one for not being able to teach here - it would have taken me at least two or three more semesters to finish while working full-time.
Right now, I'm pretty excited about the freedom to read things that aren't about literacy. Along with Language Acquisition, last semester I took Foundations of Literacy, Assessment and Correction of Reading Disabilities, and Making a Difference for the Struggling Reader. You guys, that's a lot of reading about reading.
(For anyone out there who might be a reading teacher in secondary schools, I cannot recommend When Kids Can't Read, What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12 by Kylene Beers strongly enough. So many practical strategies explained so well. Once I recover from my literacy fatigue, I intend to order her other books.)
I'm pleased to report that unlike during my undergrad years, I've actually done every bit of reading assigned for my grad school classes. It helps a lot that I've actually worked in the profession I'm studying and know how (ok, and sometimes whether) the reading will benefit me. And most of it has been pretty interesting.
My major concern was that I'd forget to do things, particularly with so much to keep track of. I created my own weekly planner, with boxes at the top for each class where I write down all of my assignments for the week and then a box for each day of the week and a Reminders box where I write due dates, to do lists, and reminders for the next week. Also sometimes what I was planning to cook each night for weeks when I was together enough to meal plan (and when Raj was home - no need to write "graze on whatever's in the fridge and pantry" in the planner on weeks when he was gone).
I used the backs to write notes. Here they were on Voicethread posts from classmates. Voicethread is a shiny new toy to Mizzou professors, where you can post video and audio comments. A couple of my professors just loved for us to have discussions using it instead of a boring old text-based discussion board. The pain in the butt part being that in order to comment back to someone, you have to remember who said what rather than being able to just reread it. Also, if you have slow internet (*raises hand*) it can take quite some time to watch everyone's video comments.
This planner system has worked well enough that in two semesters, the only thing I've forgotten to do was a third Voicethread comment one week. (I didn't forget about it so much as really believe, wrongly, that I'd already done it.) I did nearly forget to do one assignment this semester, but in my defense, it was one of three due that week for one professor that had "synthesis" in the assignment title. Fortunately, I remembered in time, adding my fluency synthesis to my journal synthesis and my learning synthesis. Whew.
The learning synthesis was meant to be a response to our learning throughout the entire semester so far. We could do it in whatever format worked best for us, including a sketch. I sent this to my sister as a possibility.
We decided that maybe I should go in a different direction with the assignment. Interpretive dance. Ok, fine, I made a web organizer showing how the things we'd learned connected, but a dance would have been much more awesome, if potentially detrimental to my grade. Particularly given that my dance skills are even less refined than my drawing skills. If that's even possible.
She did support me, however, in using a journal article by one of my professors as a source in my term paper for that same professor. Just brown-nosey enough, she thought. The professor did not comment on its inclusion in his feedback on my paper, but did note that my introductory review section was "nicely researched". (Disclaimer: I didn't seek out research by him - the article came up in a search on my topic and I would have used it, with less hesitation even, had he not been one of the authors.) (Why I feel the need to justify this to you I do not know.) (I'm not an insufferable brown-noser, Internet! Just a regular brown-noser!) (Please still like me!)
Ok, enough about The Semster of DOOM. Time to get back to enjoying the two weeks of break I have remaning. Beginning with a rumble with a closet. Then maybe I'll read a library book or clean the toilets. So many possibilities and nothing written in my planner at all.