Today I did something I've never done before: cancelled two classes for no good reason.
There are reasons, of course, and if someone asks me, I'll spout them off glibly: My students are working on group presentations and I want to give them some time to meet outside of class. The online essay they were supposed to read for today has been inaccessible for the past few days. My allergies are acting up and I feel a sinus headache coming on. Besides, it's spring!
But that's not the real reason. The fact is that I'm teaching three large writing-intensive classes this semester and I've fallen behind on grading, and if I don't do something drastic, I'll end up collecting another set of papers before I've finished the previous set. I graded 24 papers last night, and if I can get through another 24 today and then whiz through two sets of quizzes and a half dozen revisions, I'll be more or less caught up.
In all the years I've taught, I've never been this far behind. Of course, I've never taught an overload before or taught an overload while chairing the department or taught an overload while chairing the department, running a search, planning a reading by a visiting author, advising the literary magazine, and coping with the absence of a sick colleague (who came through her surgery just fine). It's all part of the job, I realize, but just for today I need a break.
So instead of teaching my two film classes, I'll shut my door and grade papers. I'm sure the students won't complain about getting an unexpected day off, and if anyone else wants to complain, let them go to my department chair.