May I unload for just a moment?
Ironically, my insane busyness here at the end of the school year has been keeping me from getting to her question: "What is your favorite part of teaching English?"
Maybe it's a bad time for me to be answering that question, since my beloved job is wringing every spare minute of time and every spare calorie of energy (is that how you'd measure energy?) from me, and making me feel very, very stressed. The end of the year is always overwhelming, for every teacher (I think I can safely generalize here), but for various reasons it's especially packed for me, and never more so than this year. There are the usual teacherly activities of wrapping up the intellectual threads of the school year, chasing down students who owe me overdue work and may not pass my class (and in some cases not graduate), doing required end-of-year paperwork, and overseeing the various feats, potlucks, and/or teas that inevitably come up in each of my classes. And my independent study Gender Studies class, which so far this semester has been just a little extra work, has suddenly become a lot more work now that my eleven students have turned in their final papers. Then there's my job as head of my department, usually a fairly relaxed and even cushy affair. At the end of the year, this little post rears its fearsome head and demands its due. I have course evaluations to be sure all teachers compose and administer, summer reading lists to put together, and various other onerous projects and paperwork to see to. Then there's the once-yearly student publication I sponsor, where most of the work is done by the students themselves, but in the final push when details go awry, it's my turn to step in and make sure the publication actually comes out and gets distributed. And this year, there is the daunting task of finding suitable subs to take my place during my maternity leave next fall. As head of the department, I have the unenviable task of being the pregnant person and the maternity leave arranger all at once. And since I'm especially invested in who takes over my precious classes, I am intent on finding teachers who are qualified and have some actual background in the specific subjects I'm slated to teach. And finding qualified teachers with the appropriate background who just happen to be free to fill a temporary position is not easy, let me tell you.
And yet, it is a good time to be answering that question, here at the end of the year, as I watch a class of seniors I am especially fond of get ready to graduate, as I think back on a teaching year that has been particularly fulfilling, and as I look forward to my maternity leave, which of course I'm mostly very happy to have and excited to enjoy with my bambino when the time comes, but which I'm also a little wistful about because it means giving up a very cool new English class I was truly excited to teach (and also an old Creative Writing class that I've been teaching forever, but love).
So, I'll be answering that question soon. But now I'm too busy to write this post and too exhausted to remain upright.