My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Life in England: It goes on

Welcome to the first of what will hopefully be more frequent (albeit probably shorter) updates! I have been meaning to write this post since the beginning of last week, but every night seemed like a good night to procrastinate. My reading is also suffering, as those of you who follow my reviews on Goodreads have probably noticed. This too shall pass.

I’m firmly ensconced in teaching now: school is in session, I’ve learned all my students’ names (much to our mutual surprise), and I have found a few more bow ties. I’m absolutely, incredibly, indescribably exhausted almost all the time. This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. (To be fair, though, it’s not like I’ve done much with my life so far.) I rather expected it would be, and I’m not trying to complain (too much). I’m just not sugar-coating it or allowing myself to have any illusions: this is a demanding, challenging, stressful job. I care a lot, which is good and is what will help me be a great teacher—but it also means I have to be careful not to burn myself out with planning and worrying. The old adage “work smarter, not harder” comes to mind, of course, and I am slowly figuring out how to do that.

This weekend was a good example. I was away on Friday, off to London for a training course in teaching A level literature. It was actually quite nice: the course was helpful, and I feel more confident teaching my AS Literature class. (Now that it’s done from four students to two, however, whether I continue teaching it remains to be seen.) Plus, a paid day off to sit around in a hotel conference room in London? Well, I missed my students, but I think I could do it on occasion.

After I returned to Bury, I resolved not to work too hard this weekend. I planned out what I want to accomplish in each period this week. Of course, I knew that the first few days would be difficult to anticipate, because I would have to deal with the fallout of having a supply teacher (even the best supply days will mean mixed messages and students claiming they never got that memo about homework). Then on Sunday, I made sure I knew exactly what I needed to prepare on Monday morning for the rest of that day. Today, I worked out what I am doing tomorrow and (in a more general sense) on Wednesday. I’m also trying to use my planning periods more effectively so I don’t have to take as many tasks home at the end of the day. This is going to go a long way to relieving stress and inculcating a good work-life balance (I hope).

The life part of work-life is going fine. Not much of a social life, but that’s OK. Ian and Jodie came up from Ely on Sunday to do some shopping, so I met them for lunch, and they came over to watch Doctor Who (I liked this week’s episode, finding a therapeutic penultimate appearance of the Ponds. More on that next week, I suppose). I converted them by watching it while they were around, muwahahah! We’re also enjoying a new series here called Moone Boy, written by and starring Chris O’Dowd. It’s set in Ireland in 1989 and follows a young boy with an imaginary friend. I’m still cooking most of my dinners myself, and my adventures in baking continued this weekend with peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.

Musically, I’ve been enjoying Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra’s album, Theatre is Evil. (Those of you who had Internet connections in the summer might recall having seen some news about this. She’s the musician who raised over $1 million on Kickstarter out of an asked-for $100,000. Yeah.) I’m enjoying it a lot—and I say this as someone who, while admiring and appreciating Palmer’s sensibilities and sensational approach to making music, didn’t really get into her music itself until she participated in 8 in 8 and they produced Nighty Night. I review books, not movies, so it’s difficult for me to find the words to describe why I’m enjoying these tracks so much. (It’s a combination of the lyrics and the melodies, in the same way that enjoying books is the result of a combination of the characters and the plot.) "Smile (Pictures Or It Didn’t Happen)", "Want It Back", and "The Killing Type" are just brilliant.

Anyway. I’m going to squeeze in a little bit of reading before going to bed. Tomorrow is a brand new day.