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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day is done

And all in all, a pretty good day, even though I was operating on less sleep than I find necessary for optimal brain strength. I'll use that as my excuse for all the things I forgot to say to students in classes both yesterday and today--but really, the problem is that I get caught up in whatever is going on and lose track of all the other rabbits in the underbrush.

I was a little worried yesterday about having enough of substance to go over with the short story students to make a productive class, but I needn't have been concerned: we filled the 75 minutes easily,what with talking over handouts, reminders about paper formats and technicalities about writing--not to mention revisiting the stories, making sure we'd discussed everything adequately--and addressing their concerns about their mini-papers, due Monday. In fact, I could easily have gone on longer.

Somehow I never have that worry about comp classes. I may be unsure what I'm going to do, but I'm always sure I'll have more than enough to fill the time--and would even if I had twice the time. Just as one instance, we never, ever, ever, discuss everything we could about the essays we read. Some of that results simply from lack of time, but some of it also is because I want the ideas, questions, comments, observations, to come more from them than from me. I don't mind doing some directing of their attention--in fact, it's not only appropriate, it's necessary (I am teaching them, after all)--but I don't want to force-feed them what I see as significant. It's a fine line to walk, but I find the discussion is generally more productive when they initiate topics arising from what they see (or don't). In addition to all that we leave undiscussed in the readings, there is all the information about writing well that there is to impart--and that's effectively endless. But there's only so much that can be done in the abstract: ultimately, they need to try it out, make the mistakes, and try to learn from the mistakes. And there's only so much they can take in at a time. Much as I'd love to do a Vulcan mind-meld with them, everything they're learning needs to soak in and gradually become accessible to them as part of their own tool kit. There is more for them to learn than they could possibly incorporate in 30 classes--or 60, or even more.

It's comforting to remember that, from time to time. I'm good, but I am not Spock.

It was very nice to be able to attend the Women's Studies meeting today, too. I've wanted to participate since I started at Nassau, and for one reason or another, I've not been able to until this semester. I still may not be able to attend every meeting (this chunk of time on Wednesdays after my second class is a godsend: it's early enough that I can put in a number of hours of work while my energy is still relatively high and without being on campus until the middle of the night). But it's lovely to have the block of time otherwise unscheduled.

I have a ton of work to do over the weekend, of course, which I also hope to chip away at tomorrow, but right now, I'm going to take myself out for dinner and begin my night-time wind-down relatively early so I can approach tomorrow at least relatively bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Metaphorically speaking of course.

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