December 18, 2007

Wondering when the ton of bricks falls inside my head, and other occupational hazards of teaching

Because of my grading obligations, I haven't had too much chance to think about Oliver Bernsdorff, a Pinellas County teacher and former USF student who killed his family and then himself Friday morning. That night, I talked with a friend and colleague who also knew him and we went over the obvious questions you'd ask if you were in our position right now. When you're well past your 2000th student, you know that some of them are going to die while you're still working, and a few are going to be public deaths. One of my former students was murdered in the past few years (his killers were found). But good grief, if you didn't think any human around you could produce evil, this family murder-suicide is rather a blunt reminder. Thanks to those who have sent me kind messages in the past few days. It still hasn't hit me fully, so in part I'm waiting for it to. I think I'll be fine, fundamentally, but when something like this happens, there's some sense in spending some time a week later to do an internal reality-check.

Back to thinking about other things: The true cost of being a union activist this semester is that meetings ate up too much of my time last week, so I've spent several late nights and early mornings grading over the weekend and in the last few days. (With a break: my spouse's birthday was Friday, and we went to a local simulcast of the Met Opera's Romeo et Juliette Saturday afternoon. I much prefer my family tragedies fictional, thank you.) I've just submitted grades for the third class. There are some other things I need to do this week, but I'm going to take a brief break this afternoon.

Beyond that? I have some interim projects for the break, but the spring is stretching out in front of me, and as Profgrrrrl says about herself, I have some long-term ambitions for projects. A paper for AERA and another conference, some decisions to make about the summer, some planning for union work. But those are short- and medium-term. Because of some unique circumstances in the spring, there are a variety of opportunities and thus an almost infinite number of things that can absorb my time.

Listen to this article
Posted in The academic life on December 18, 2007 12:46 PM |