Tomorrow the nice fellow from the heating contractors comes to sell us a new furnace. Necessary maintenance moved up in our scheme of things when this year’s routine service required two further follow-ups with no resolution of the underlying problem. We’d thought we’d have another year of use out of the furnace but obviously not.

Whether it was this year or next, this was no surprise. It was on our horizon from the day we bought the home. A few years back, we got contractors to install a new roof with better ventilation. The other year we put a new ceiling fan in the foyer to circulate air throughout the house. Last fall break, Mike and I painted the upstairs hallway, living room and dining room. Just this summer, we replaced the bathroom fans. Plumbers, electricians and other specialists help us keep the house in good shape: since we regularly rely on their labour, there are only a few surprises in the upkeep.

As I look forward to fall break starting after class winds up at 11:30 tomorrow, I realize I’m also in maintenance mode when it comes to the classroom. Little re Next week won’t be a sloth-fest: there are midterms from the western civ class, short papers from the British survey and longer pieces from my M.A. methods students. My gradebooks are set up with formulas already set for calculating marks. Each paper is recorded on reception (hard copy and electronic submissions noted so I can track that all are marked). A feedback file of boilerplate comments I’ve accumulated over the years is open on my computer so I can cut-and-paste in comments on how to properly format notes and other common bits of advice.

These are my maintenance practices for teaching. In a less crazy year, that also includes completely revising three topics in each course but this year I’ve given myself a pass due to the overload situation. Thankfully, it won’t be a big problem because I’ve kept up the regular maintenance in years past.

But you know what I’ll be doing over reading week (besides writing and editing, that is): grading so that the regular maintenance of my teaching routine doesn’t get completely out of whack!


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