Teacher Self Care and a Finals Week Playlist

I won’t lie, this quarter has been rough.

Being an adjunct for a living means that I have to bounce back and forth between schools, and since “rent” isn’t one of those optional costs, I end up having to take classes that I otherwise wouldn’t. Like this quarter, where I somehow ended up with a three day weekend ever week, and four 15 hour days in a row. Sixty hour weeks in four days. My body has become a battleground between sleep deprivation and caffeine fighting it out for supremacy on a daily basis.

To the individuals who have asked me what I do for a “real” job:  fuck you and your supercilious selves.  I help people think critically, achieve their dreams, and I can keep a room full of people interested and engaged in the subtle sciences of math… and I make it fun. Go back to your banal jobs and your white-washed racism you fuckwits.

My classes have been pretty good, with the occasional exception here and there. Fall quarters I always see students biting off more than they can chew, and new students have the fun job of trying to learn how to balance being a student with living the rest of their lives. For whatever reason this quarter my students’ families have been dying off:  I have had at least 4 students lose parents or loved ones (that I believe), and dealing with that is devastating.  Not all bad news though, I have also had several become new parents as well.  So I know that I’m not the only one dealing with sleep deprivation.

Remember those 3-day weekends I got this quarter? Imagine trying to cram the rest of your life into that.  Trying to recover from exhaustion, have meaningful relationships, exercise, dealing with medical issues, deal with car issues, and trying to have any creative outlet. Oh yeah: also add trying to prep enough meals to survive on during your crazy week!

I should note: I have an amazing partner. She has somehow managed to juggle things that I normally wouldn’t ask of her, as well as caring for me in ways I never knew that I needed.

All of this is pointing to how important it is to have some regular forms of self-care.

This quarter I have had a few consistent things to keep me sane:   podcasts (for my 10+ hours of commuting per week), baking (to force myself to slow down on the weekends), and gaming.  Interspersed with these are my usual mix of running, too many books, and various shenanigans that I can cram into my time.

My podcasts this quarter:  The Scathing Atheist offers a wonderful mix of humor (NSFW!!!) and brutal roasting of the religious bigotry and misogyny, and The Skeptics Guide to the Universe offers wonderful lessons of skepticism and gives me more hope for the future than I had before.

And now:  here is my playlist for grading this quarter.  I’ve only managed to kill four red pens this quarter.  I should sharpen my fangs a bit more.

Good beats for when I repeatedly stab a stack of finals with my red pen.  Metal keeps me sane-ish.

Finals Week Playlist 17, grading drama edition

Something that I was never warned about as a teacher was how dramatic grading a final can be.  As much as I can play up how important it is for students to have the option to fail, it doesn’t help to watch as they do.  I’m not quite as callous as I would let my teaching persona be… which is to say, I feel invested in my students lives.

Beyond the regular frustrations of grading there are also the almost marathon aspects of final grading.   There is a swell of last minute assignments, as well as the time pressure deadline of grading (in my case) comprehensive exams.   One test took me over 5 hours to grade.

There is also the part where I’m looking forward to a week where I don’t have to get up at 5 am to come in and teach.   So… lets just say, I’m ready to be done.

And I still am me.  I like my students more than most other people, but I’m at heart a misanthrope.   I don’t suffer fools gladly.  So now I give you this quarter’s grading playlist:

Enjoy you Summer, if you have the luxury of having time off.

Late edition Playlists


I’ve been out of touch for a while.   Quite a while… so here are some of the catch up videos I’ve been grading to for the past few quarters.

My winter quarter playlist was a little… angrier than some of my previous ones.   I blame the election.   Nothing like a Russian elected president to get my blood up.    This stuff is soothing to me.   Trust me.


Fall quarter was a little easier.   I was able to take some time to make a nice and easy playlist, with some old favorites along with some new ones.   I was much more optimistic.



More later…

Finals Week Playlist 15

Some terms go by fast, and some go by slow.   This one has been both, somehow…

As I write this, I’m playing hooky from my stacks of finals grading.   In addition to my music, I have been supplementing with horror/disaster/feel good films.   I will say that “Exeter” and “Big Ass Spider” got me though my basic math skills.   “Inglorious Basterds” and “The Veil” helped me with Intermediate Algebra.   I am still undecided what will work for my Beginning Algebra grading… perhaps something in the Friday the 13th oeuvre?

Still there are some songs that just get me in the grading mood.   And nothing helps keep my pen moving like a catchy beat.


Here is the list for this quarter:

  • Starting out, we need Foo Fighters, “All My Life”  (done, done… on to the next one)
  • I wish my students were like Shakira, “Try Everything” (even if you might fail)
  • Saliva, “Your Disease”   because sometimes I need some naked aggression.
  • Ever since Deadpool, I’ve found myself humming Salt n’Peppa, “Shoop”
  • Greydon Square, “A Rational Response” helps to remember that there are very intelligent people out there….
  • “This is Your Life” from the Fight Club Soundtrack.  Just listen.
  • An awesome cover of “Where is my Mind?” by Daniela Andrade
  • Jess Greenberg covers “Highway to Hell”, just for funsies.
  • Iron Maiden “Run to the Hills”.   Which I may want to do soon…
  • A beautiful and epic cover of “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed


Back to the grind here soon.

Finals Week Playlist 14

Another term’s final has passed.   This has been a good quarter if a somewhat difficult one.   My personal difficulties involved flooding followed by incompetent plumbers, a busier schedule than I have ever had, and a fantastic relationship.

In class has involved teaching several new classes, the usual host of students (enthusiastic students, students with issues, and the indifferent students).  This quarter I have personally worked through five red pens.  Contemplate that for a moment.  Five red pens.

In any case, here is some of the music that graded to.

  • Mathematical Music (Just for the awesome video)
  • Johnathan Coulton – Chiron Beta Prime (Tis the Season… for robots)
  • The All-American Rejects – Gives you Hell
  • Professor Elemental – All in together
  • Oingo Boingo – Only a Lad   (Dedicated to a special someone… who I hope to never see again)
  • MIA – Bad Girls
  • P!nk – So What?
  • Tank Girl – Lets do it  (Dedicated to a special someone who I am moving in with…)
  • Limp Bizkit – Break Stuff
  • Rob Zombie – Demon Speeding  (Why don’t you ask me what it feels like to be a freak?)


Now we get to take a vacation.   And by vacation, I mean I get to sleep in and hang out with my family as I plan my classes for next quarter.   (Unpaid overtime!   Woohoo!!!!)

Now go forth and use your powers for whatever the hell you want to.   They are your powers!

Finals Week Playlist 13

Summer term is winding to a close.   During my last push of grading, I usually like to listen to music to keep me focused on the task at hand.

In a break from my traditional music, I’m going with a different sort of theme for this term.   Lets see if you like it…

  • Europe – The Final Countdown
  • Queen – Another One Bites the Dust
  • Gloria Gaynor – I will survive
  • Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows
  • Final Fantasy Theme
  • Baz Luhrmann – Sunscreen
  • Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall (pt 2)
  • Van Halen – Hot for Teacher
  • Rolling Stones – Wild Horses
  • Alice Cooper – School’s Out

I will also say that while the (mostly) classic rock theme is different than my usual theme for grading, I also recently got the full Nightmare on Elm Street collection… so I’m set for any virtual violence that I may feel.

And with that… enjoy the summer break.


p.s.   A quick note… I know that this post went up over a week late for finals.   I’m okay, just very busy.

Finals Week Playlist 12

Spring quarter is almost done, which means that I get to dive deep into grading for a while.  This has been a great quarter:   good students and minimal classroom drama.    My classes were mellow, which has been nice change.   I did hear that one of my colleague’s students literally tried to get her to reteach an entire lesson (to the whole class) because he was absent.

I can’t make this shit up.  It’s funny in retrospect.

Still, grading takes a toll.   As much as I want all of my students to succeed, some students won’t make it to their next class.   I’m not fond of failing people, but some students haven’t clued in to the fact that I only present the material, I can’t understand it for them.   (Hmmmm… maybe I do still have a little snark leftover after all).   I also get an absurdly short break (a little over a week off) and class prep for the Summer term!

While I’m grading, contemplating my week off, and planning for next quarter I have a nice little set of tunes to occupy and distract me.   This is a little more eclectic than I usually go, but what the hell… here goes!

  • Carl Sagan – A Glorious Dawn
  • Puddles Pity Party – When You Rock and Roll With Me
  • Joan Jett – Bad Reputation
  • Justin Bieber vs Slipknot – Psychosocial Baby
  • Misfits – Angel Fuck
  • CHVRCHES – Bela Lugosi’s Dead
  • Jill Tracy – The Fine Art of Poisoning
  • Joan Jett – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
  • Pomplamoose – I’m the S**t
  • Godsmack – Voodoo
  • The Wombats – Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)
  • M.I.A.  – Bad Girls


Buckle up, Buttercup.   We’re ready for finals.

Finals Week Playlist 11

Winter quarter is almost done, bringing with it a nice big pile of … grading … to deal with.

After some years of grading you might think that it would be easier.   While the methods I choose to grade by have improved, there remains an emotional toll.  It is hard to see people make mistakes, especially after having instructed, showed example after example,  showed the internal logic, and finally demonstrated tricks to make the work easier.

Rather that unleashing a tidal wave of red ink,  I find that grading to horror or disaster movies seems to put context to the disasters I regularly see on paper.    Or, there is always some lovely music to relieve the aggressions.

So here is my finals week playlist for Winter 2015!   A mix of some classics of aggressive industrial music, nerdy music, and some just plain fun music.   For some reason that Kooks song always makes me think of a teacher testing a student… and I do hate true or false questions.

  • Combichrist – What the fuck is wrong with you
  • The Kooks – Naive
  • Hard n Phirm – Trace Elements
  • Saliva – Ladies and Gentlemen
  • Dr Horrible on the Rise
  • Sia – Acedemia
  • Apocolyptica – Fade to Black
  • Imagine Dragons – Radioactive (for one of the best videos ever!)
  • Melissa Ferrick – Drive  (because Spring break isn’t all about class prep)
  • Dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill


Finals, here we come.


Finals Week Playlist 10

Okay, the time has come once again for final exams.   I will also admit, that grading has kicked my ass this quarter.   I have been swamped with student papers.   There are times that I can detach myself from the student’s work, and just grade… but sometimes it is difficult.   Sometimes I take it personally.

There are times I want to stab offending questions with my red pen, hoping that that error never occurs again.   And yet it appears over and over, like some monstrous mockery of mathematics, preying on another victim.

I’ll keep up the good fight.     I don’t want to speculate on why aggressive music and horror movies are my medium of choice to listen to while grading.   Perhaps it is because it suits the whole bloody business.   Or maybe it’s just what suits my personality.

Here is another finals week playlist.

  • Combichrist – Throat full of glass
  • Saliva – Click Click Boom
  • Godsmack – Voodoo
  • Johnny Cash – Hurt
  • Skinny Puppy – Pro-Test
  • Emilie Autumn – One Foot in Front of the other
  • Seether – Fake it
  • Saliva – Ladies and Gentlemen
  • Death*Star – The Quick and the Dead
  • Paint – Cups (Extreme edition)


As for folks who follow my blog – thank you for your patience.   I know I’ve been squirrelly this quarter.

But I’ll be coming out swinging in Winter quarter.


Finals Week Playlist 9

Well, it is final’s week for summer quarter at last.   I have loved my class this quarter, they have done fantastic work and made some pretty remarkable breakthroughs.

So here is what I’m going to be doing my grading to this quarter:


And now I go apply for unemployment.   Woo*fucking*hoo.   Summer vacation (hopefully without starvation).