I read an intriguing blog post today that got me thinking about the effort I put into my work. And by work, I mean all these things I do for a “living.” Teaching. Blogging. Social media-ing. One of the points in the post suggested that it’s better to do one or two things very well than it is to do a lot of things with mediocre effort. Maybe I’m completely brain dead tonight, but I’m a little discouraged by the amount of mediocrity that I put forth in some of my work. It’s not that I want to be mediocre. It’s not even that what I’m doing is, by others’ standards, mediocre. It’s that by my standards, I’m not doing a good enough job.
I don’t think this crosses the line into perfectionism. I think this is me having a vision for my online classes and for SGFblogs.com and for A Fool of Myself (whose stats are still not working–maybe if I complain enough, the blogging fairies will fix them) and for Austin Creative. I’m so utopian in what I want to achieve that right now I’m discouraged to even try.
Like for SGFblogs.com, for instance. We’ve come a long way in the year that I’ve taken over our fledgling group, but I want so much more for it. I want us to have a website that adds value to Springfield’s community, and I want our bloggers to engage with the website and with each other, both in person and online. From an outsider’s perspective, maybe it looks like I’m accomplishing this, but what we have is not enough for me. At the same time, I don’t have the time to devote to maintaining the site, sending newsletters, writing tweets, engaging with everyone on Facebook, promoting the group, and being the expert, so I feel like I’m failing everyone.
I feel the same for my online classes. I get these great ideas every semester, I work hard to implement them, and I feel like they fall flat on their faces. As a result, I’m trying to troubleshoot my new idea, and my students are trying to pass the class, and by the seventh week of the semester, I feel like tossing the next nine weeks in the crapper and starting all over. I’d love to implement Blogger into my classes this fall, but let’s face it: I have three weeks before fall semester starts, and I don’t want to spend can’t spend the entire time reworking my classes. I don’t get paid for that time off, you know. I do enjoy online teaching, and I’ve been given a lot of freedom to explore the world beyond Blackboard, but sometimes I wonder if all the effort is worth it. Do the students appreciate that I’m teaching them how to use tools that they’ll encounter in the real world? Do they spend more than three seconds reviewing my comments on their work? Again, maybe I’m in a funk tonight. (Although, funny news: One of my summer students, who happens to know Chris’s boss Justin, told Justin today that my class was tough. The student seemed to think that online classes should be easier than seated classes, so I’m glad that I exceeded his expectations. I swear, I’m not sadistic; I take great pride in producing excellent English 101 materials.)
I have too many things to think about. Thankfully, Chris let me buy some new Moleskine cahiers this weekend (gridded, naturally), and I’ve been using the first one as a brainstorming journal of sorts. It just lets me get some of these ideas for my clients and my classes out of my head and onto paper, so I can sleep at night.