A Day in the Life of A College Professor

This details today, just what I had to go through on the most hectic day of days.

4:30 AM

I woke up to the sound of my internet radio, it was Car Talk on Chicago Public Radio. I enjoyed listening to this station because it was where This American Life was first played before being uploaded to the iTunes podcast. The caller was a female who had a trouble with her husbands car that he lent to his girlfriend. And yes, that is as weird as it sounds.

Anyway, the technical discussions of Tom & Ray was enough to get me up and this was just the start of a very long Wednesday.

I was sitting in front of my desk, to a blank slide with my books opened and a couple of my journal articles over a dozen or more tabs on my browser, and I was dead for a couple of seconds. My mind was blank as I try to re-read 4 years of college and condense it into an hour long lecture. And the hard part was making sure that my slides weren’t too full of text to induce death by powerpoint, or too full of unnecessary distractions that would make the lecture pointless.

Even after almost four years of teaching College Computer, I still make new slides for every class. It helps me master the topic, and I don’t like recycling my materials. The students deserve the most updated information, because times change.

5:05 AM

33 slides in, around 90 minutes of discussions, more than enough to last an hour. Even though I only have 60 minutes of lecture time, it’s better to have more than needed. I often have those days where student’s don’t ask much, or I overestimate the time needed for my topics, and I’m left with too much time on the clock. So advancing some topics just in case is always good.

I look at the clock, just a little over four hours before my class. Better get ready.

6:30 AM

One egg and half a cup of rice, enough carbs to push through the next few hours, and just enough protein to stall the hunger. I can’t eat too much, or else my blood sugar will rise, I’ll end up sleepy and distracted. Just enough hunger to bring out some adrenaline and I could pull through this.

8:00 AM

I’m at the faculty office, listening to some of my colleagues chat about stuff; party plans for the off-day, drinking sessions after class. And I’m just there worried about how to schedule my topics, because the school decided to cut 10 hours off my semester for a lot of reasons.

I waited for the clock to tick down to 8:30.

I can’t leave for the other campus yet, arrive too early and I’ll be bombarded by distractions, come too late and I’d miss some minutes off my lecture time. I have to leave just at the right time. Just 90 minutes before my class starts.

9:20 AM

The school service drops me off just outside the gates. 10 minutes to show time. I walk down the lobby, through two flights of stairs to the school canteen.

I greet the server good morning with the best smile I had before I ordered a bottle of water so I have an excuse to wait out the last few minutes. I took a sip, read a couple of lines on my 7 habits and was off to climb flights of stairs.

9:50 AM

I was 4 slides down, and my students were taking notes in between my descriptions and discussions. But no one was asking any questions.

I guess it’s typical, they’re still afraid, unsure of themselves; some are just indifferent with the interaction with the instructor and believe that the notes contain the secret to knowing the topic.

Even though I will complete my lecture, I still feel I failed this class today.

11:30 AM

Two one-hour classes down, I leave the campus with very little satisfaction. On the upcoming exam, a good number from each class will fail again, because they didn’t give the right attention. After so many times in the past few years, I can tell if a student will do well or not. It’s in the small gestures they make, they take down notes with little to no organization, they just scribble what’s on the board to never open their notebooks again. Some would not take notes at all, just sit with an expression of interest and enthusiasm because the instructor (me) makes the topic a little more interesting by making funny examples for the case studies. But upon leaving the room, they know nothing.

From my position in the room, I see all of this and it doesn’t make me happy.

1:25 PM

I just arrived in the main campus, and that was the longest ride of my life. The afternoon air was hot, but humid enough that my nostrils doesn’t dry out. Clear signs of rain in the afternoon.

I was sleepy, and I needed to prepare for one more class before this day is through.

3:00 PM

Slouched on my seat, tapping my table, waiting for the last bell to ring, signaling that I should go to my class. I was hesitant to go up, and had half a mind to have this class be handled by a substitute while I go home and sleep away the day.

But I had to teach this class. This is only class that connects me to the course I created and developed four years ago. The class that was taken from me so that some uninterested professor with tenure has something to teach.

This fact annoyed me more than anything that happened today.

I am so passionate with that class, I built it’s syllabus through countless reading and research, and I was the only one capable of teaching it properly.

Yet I was only left with half of it.

So I had to take care of it. I love that class, it means so much to me.

3:30 PM

This is a 3 hour laboratory class, and I had to talk the entire time.

“Introduction to Word Processing and Transcription for Nursing Informatics”

Most of the concepts for this topics SHOULD be discussed in the lecture hall, the class that was taken from me. But it wasn’t. Two hours last week, the professor spent on semantics, definition of terms, like a dictionary being read out for the sake of reading. So I had to pick up his slack, I had to teach what the students needed to learn.

6:00 PM

My voice was failing, my head was spinning, my pupils was so constricted, everything felt so far away. I moved my hands in front of me and they looked two meters long.

I was tired, and I needed to sleep.

7:00 PM

I open my diary, and I see that I had two days off, so much time to spend on playing that game I bought a few weeks ago.

But I took out my pen, and began planning how to build my materials for my class after the off days. I can’t rest until I’m sure they’re learning something.

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