But the weather simply adds to everyone's brain fatigue (including mine). I was supremely unprepared for the short story class today, hadn't reread either story and didn't remember them as well as I should have. Ah well. Students were mostly concerned about their proposals (most of which didn't pass, meaning most of them have to revise) and their last papers, which they finally got back (and many of which didn't pass, ditto). One poor student is having to wait to get his papers back--but I don't feel too terrible, as he got them to me late anyway. He's the one I met with this morning. Strange thing: when he works on his own, without seeing me, the ideas he comes up with are pretty terrible. As soon as he's talking to me, his ideas become clear and precise. I tried to point out to him the difference in approach so he can start doing the clear thinking without having to come to me (or whatever professor) first.
And now I'm facing a madding crowd of students who want to meet with me--or whom I asked to meet with me. I'll be filling lots of my "spare" time over the next week sitting down one-on-one with students who are trying to squeeze ideas out of brains that have been pretty well bled dry. But, man, I just love the one-on-one stuff. I truly do. If I could teach two classes and then spend the rest of my time meeting with students individually, I'd be in freaking hog heaven. (Sudden image of hogs freaking: not what I meant. Oh, you know.)
Today's 101 was modestly productive. We did just sort of kick around ideas, a free-flowing debate stemming from the question, "Is a commitment to a common good that will benefit generations to come more morally laudable than working diligently to achieve personal gain?" (Taken from Amazon.com's "Product Information" about For the Greater Good of All: Perspectives on Individualism, Society, and Leadership [Jepson Studies in Leadership]. Ed. Donelson R. Forsyth and Crystal L. Hoyt. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011 [forthcoming].) The students were moderately engaged--at least no one fell asleep (a triumph on a day like today). Mr. Macho was great: contributed to the conversation seriously, thoughtfully. It took a little prodding to get him on task in the first place, but he did great. His group's proposal, however, is the only one in that class yet to be approved, and I'm more than a little worried about that. I did, however, impress specifically on him that Tuesday is the "drop dead" date: no approved proposal, they don't pass. For his sake, I hope they pull it together.
And now I'm looking at the huge pile of things I need to mark for that class, and the other 101s (or part of it: a lot of it is at home). Two of my favorite students in that class were rather wistfully asking when they might get everything back: I understand that they want to know, and they're right to, and I feel awful about how long it's taking me--but not necessarily awful enough to do any work tonight. I'll schlep it home, however, so I have stuff to work on while I wait around the doctor's office tomorrow morning. And I'll just chip, chip, chip away at it. What else can I do?
But for now, what I can do is drive carefully home, avoiding the worst of the road-lakes (and under a very strange purple sky) and try to recharge batteries (mine, metaphoric) so I have a shot at being productive at least some time over the weekend. We'll see. (The mantra of the semester, of my life these days.)