How do the days and weeks so quickly come back around? The end of the year is rapidly approaching. I begin cleaning the house and preparing for Thanksgiving tomorrow. We expect 16 this year, not our largest gathering, but still plenty. After Thanksgiving I have one week left of classes, then finals, and a progressive dinner, a race to get exams graded and grades turned in, then one week to get all my Christmas gifts made and holiday baking done in time for Christmas. Everything seems more rushed this year since Thanksgiving comes so late.
I won't be teaching over winter session this year, so in theory I should have about 5 weeks off before the Spring semester starts in January. During my "time off" I will be reading ten massive books and prepping for a new course I will be teaching in the Spring, "Genocides of the 20th Century." Since this will be an entirely new class, I have to create all new lecture notes, PowerPoints, a syllabus, assignments, and schedule films and speakers. This means I will be in the office 5 days a week to get this done. It's a lot of work, and had I known last May that I would be asked to do this, I would have worked on this while recovering from surgery. Oh well, I'm happy to be given the opportunity to teach a new course, and one that I find endlessly fascinating.
I would be freaked out right now if I hadn't been studying genocides since 1997 as a hobby, also, I've assigned all of the genocides I will be covering as paper assignments since I began teaching in 2007. Each semester I would assign a different genocide for my students to research. I would require them to use a specific number of scholarly articles from JSTOR. I would have them search for obscure information on the genocides. This forced me to read all the scholarly articles that they would find, so I could make sure they were understanding the articles and using them properly. This kept me reading scholarly articles on genocides, because if left to my own devices, I would have likely squandered my time.
Also, of the ten books I am using for source material to build the class, six I have already read in their entirety at some point since 1997, and the other four I have read a great deal of, so I will be doing a lot of re-reading, reminding myself of the details, and scanning for parts to use as excerpts for the class. Since this is an undergrad class, I can't assign more than four books. The kids would run like hell in the other direction. Even though my course flyer warned students would have to begin reading the books prior to class beginning in January, and that only serious students need to apply, my class filled up fast when registration opened, so that's a good sign. Based on the outline I had already created for the class, and my previous experience teaching history and genocides, I was told my class would count toward the Social Justice minor the university offers. I really hope I'm able to pull it all together and I deliver a great class. It's important to me to teach more than core courses, teach something I'm passionate about, and have an impact on my students. No pressure, huh? :-)