Friday, December 31

A Very Short List of Things I'll Try Not to Do in 2022

I know. 'Tis the season for writing resolutions, but, why must we talk about resolutions? Sure it's a new year and we have a fresh new calendar or a fresh new journal for the year. Clean page and all that jazz. But, come on. How many of us keep any resolutions longer than a few hours?

In 2010 I wrote a compendium post for New Year's. It was weird to revisit that post. A few of my resolutions included getting a tattoo (never did that and probably won't), going to 5 Guys (check), and some other things I managed to accomplish in my usual erratic and desultory fashion.

I wrote about a commentary Steve Chapman published in The Chicago Tribune about airlines and travel and how I hoped seat belts wouldn't fall into the category of added fees amenities. That seems less funny and far-fetched now. A lot of things about travel seem less funny now.

I included a book review. Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series was fairly new at that time and kids of all ages seemed more interested in reading. Kids being interested in reading has changed dramatically in the last 11 years. Social media probably has a lot to do with that, but I'm not willing to place all of the blame on social media. I know some people like to say that kids have really short attention spans today because of social media, but I disagree. They can focus for hours on something that interests them.

Kids like to think they're really good at multitasking, which they're not. No one is. But then kids don't really understand what multitasking is so they think that because they can listen to music and do something else, they can multitask. Except when you catch them chair dancing because they're grooving so much to the music and they forget to work on the task they're supposed to be doing. More on attention spans and multitasking in a different blog post.

So, I'm not really a fan of resolutions because I know I will not keep them. It's easier to try to list some of the things I will try not to do in 2022. Herewith are some random thoughts:

  • I will try not to yell at the news. I expect to fail at this one almost immediately unless I decide to devote more time to watching TikTok videos and reading silly stories on reddit, which is a distinct possibility.
  • I will try not to get frustrated with myself when I fall short of my own expectations. For example, I will not berate myself the first time I yell at the news after New Year's Day, so, like on January 2.
That's it. Basically I'm going to try to be more patient with everyone.

If I had to make a couple of proposals for 2022, I might propose to write more. That is something I've wanted to do for a while. Not just blog posts, but short stories and maybe longer stories. I'd like to do more interviews for my podcast. I've been drawing up a list of possible interviewees to talk with me about writing.

I think I need to be less inclined to be a hermit. I know I'm an introvert by nature and sometimes teaching just wrings me out so I want to retreat to a quiet place. But sometimes retreating gets too comfortable and too easy and coming out of that emotional and intellectual hibernation seems too hard. Maybe I should add that to my list: that I will try not to retreat too much when the world is too much with us.

And so I trepidatiously welcome 2022, with all of the mayhaps we have yet to imagine. And may we imagine well and patiently and kindly.

Tuesday, December 21

Stepping back. . . in a minute

I'm about to post the last of my grades. When I press SEND, I will be done officially for this semester. Except for the planning for next semester, which has already begun.

After I finished the grades for one of my 11th classes, I worked on the first newsletter of the year for that group of parents and mapped out a general idea for a plan for the semester. I'm making some changes and creating the newsletter with parents in mind helped me think through some of the details. I'll continue to tinker with those until school starts.

After I post grades for my AP Language course, I'll spend some time mapping out next semester for those students. Spring semester can go by really fast and there are things to which I know we must attend because it is an AP class.

Then I'll look to my college classes. I teach part-time at a high school because I'm an adjunct at a local university and that gig was first. Anyway, I teach freshman writing and you'd think that wouldn't change much and you'd be right. The focus of freshman writing hasn't changed, but the students sure have so I'm constantly revising that course to help meet the needs of students to assist them in being successful in college and maybe even beyond. I can't prep that much for my literature course until I meet the students as the course is geared mostly for education majors and this semester the range of concentrations is quite astonishing. It'll be fine, though. 

So after I press SEND for my last set of grades and map out three classes for spring semester, then I can start revisiting the texts that I'll be using next semester to make sure I've got those reasonably settled and figured out some alternatives because, well, things always change. Oh, and sort out the books I have because they have gotten really jumbled and disorganized this semester.

Then I can catch up on some of the professional reading and writing I've not had time to do with preps and grading for over 100 students this past semester.

Since it's the holidays, I'll reach out to some friends I've not been able to see because we've all been too busy or too tired.

My "to do" list also includes cleaning out the pantry and the refrigerator, though the former is less  important than the latter. Now that I've learned the replacements for the fluorescent lights I have in the basement are going to be harder to find than I thought, I may have to contact an electrician about redoing the light fixtures in the basement.

And then I'll step back for a few minutes, and just relax.