The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grader's Block...

You know how writers sometimes get writer's block?  If you are not a writer, you may not know what I am talking about, but if you are... then you know how much it stinks. You want SO badly to just write- to just put words on the paper and have them be wonderful, inspired stuff. But nothing comes to you and you just can't get yourself into the mindset to do it. During the time periods when I was writing for a living, this was my worst nightmare. There is nothing like knowing what you need to do to make money and not being able to make yourself  do it.

This week, I am having grader's block. You are probably thinking, "Wait, aren't you on maternity leave? Why are you grading papers?" At least that is what everyone keeps saying to me when I say I need to grade papers. Well, there's a little thing I like to call backlog. I assigned a paper in August. They turned it in the first week of September. I graded two class periods worth before I left for maternity leave. I finished them just days before having Tiana. I still have two class periods left. I told myself that I would grade them while on leave, and I had plenty of time until grades being due, so no worries. Well, time is quickly running out.  I have less than two weeks to get them done now. I haven't started them.

There are about 40 of them. They take about 5-7 minutes each to grade. This is the second day in the row that I have sat down with my laptop, opened the rubric on my screen, even gone to my school email inbox (the students emailed me the papers), but have not actually opened a single file to grade yet. If they are going to get graded, I am going to have to actually open the files, read them, and grade them, but every time I sit down at the computer to start, I find a million other things to do. It is like I can't get my fingers to make myself click the folder with the papers.

I think it may have something to do with the lack of deep sleep I am getting... as in zero. I am so sleep deprived that I walk around somewhat in a state of delirium. It is like I just don't have the mental capacity to make myself think very hard or concentrate on anything complex. I mean, I don't even want to pleasure read. Even magazines only hold my attention for a few minutes. I sort of just want to lay on the couch and watch t.v. all day. I have zero desire to do anything that requires more mental energy than that.

At first, I thought perhaps this is just some postpartum blues? But I am not sad at all. I looked it up on the internet and found that these are just typical symptoms of sleep deprivation. One website (, a website that was selling an insomnia solution) described it this way...
"One of the many signs of sleep deprivation that can seriously interfere in the work place [is poor concentration]. You just can't seem to focus on anything you're doing, no matter how inconsequential it may seem. Not only do you have poor focus and mental concentration, but your reaction time is slowed significantly as well."

Yeah... no kidding. See, this is why women take so many weeks of maternity leave, even though they feel physically better within just a couple of weeks. Because mentally, the idea of doing work is just beyond me. What am I going to do?

1 comment:

  1. While I can't relate exactly I do know what you mean. I only teach for 5 weeks in the summer, but I am required to write a thoughtful critical evaluation for each of my students at the end of the term. I tried a really poopy strategy this year that I will not repeat next year. I left my two most inspirational students for dead last. The thought was that I have so much to say about them and it seemed like they were the simple and enjoyable evaluations to write- I would just get to them last and get the more difficult write ups done first. By the time I got to those last two I was brain dead and couldn't bring myself to even get near a computer. I had to ask for an extension! eek... when you unlock the secret please share. xo