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Monday, January 24, 2011


So that 5:30 alarm was a bit grim--but it was lovely to notice that the days are already perceptibly longer: I can turn the lights off earlier than I was able to a few short weeks ago. I find, overall, this early schedule is strange for me: in my usual mode, I'm just gearing up to work best by the late afternoon, yet here it is, not quite 3 p.m., and not only am I finished with my official day, I'm propping my eyelids open trying to keep working. I know the secret is to get to bed earlier, but I resist that like mad. Bed at 9:30? But the day is yet young!

Yes, well.

I was also amused to note that, between classes, when I sat down to start reading and marking the first assignment from my students (a little self-evaluation essay, no big deal), my left eyelid immediately started to twitch. Something you don't want to look at there, Professor? Christ, I feel like I was just doing this 15 minutes ago: where was that "break" that was supposed to refresh me and bring me into this work with that delusional optimism I'm used to from semesters past?

The strange bifurcated Monday/Thursday class is not shaping up very well. I had a couple of students today who were not there on Thursday but was missing many more. That's the section that's supposed to have 28 in it: I don't think I've seen 20 all at once yet. I'll be curious to see how this shapes up over the next few weeks. And I got the disappointing news that we can't have a room to call our own: we're going to bounce between the two rooms all semester. However, I am seriously considering taking pictures of the icky Thursday room and sending them off to the campus paper as a scandalous example of crappy care for the student environment. It really is indicative of a gross disregard for the learning process to mandate we conduct a class in a room that feels like a shit warehouse.

Most of the students from the other section were there today (they all were there on Wednesday): only a few were missing , and I suspect they're gone for good (and I'm just as pleased if they are). Officially I have 24 on my roster; unofficially there are 26 who think they are attending the class. Realistically, I bet I end up with about 22 to start, with the usual attrition as the semester progresses.

On a nice note--so far anyway--I'd say their writing is not half bad: more complete sentences than not, not a lot of truly frightening sentence-level errors. Of course they're wildly blowing smoke at this stage, wanting to please me by telling me how much they want to learn to love reading and writing, how certain they are that their lives will be deeply enriched by their experiences in English 102. Oh, yes, all right, dear hearts, it's sweet of you to pretend, but we'll see how you feel when you have to revise that first paper.

I let both classes go way early again. I know I probably "should" be a great deal more draconian about making them understand that they need to be prepared from jump street (you didn't pick up your reader? Fine: that's an absence for you)--but I don't feel like fighting with them. I made it a little easy for the ones who haven't gotten on the ball yet, and didn't make life difficult for the ones who have. Actually, thinking about it, I may adopt a more laissez-faire attitude in general: I don't need to get on their cases about doing the work because if they don't, they'll simply flunk (and piss off their classmates along the way, witness Mr. Macho last semester). It's easier on me if I am less vigilant--and it does make them either step up to the plate or (to mix a metaphor) fall by the wayside: the responsibility needs to be theirs, not mine.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. I've got a departmental Assessment Committee meeting at 10, then a small break (no regular committee meeting, thank God), then P&B and my two classes back to back to back. It will be great if I have the energy to reread the stories for the Native American Lit class before I meet with them at 2:30, but if not, no harm no foul: I've taught those stories a zillion times, and the main thing is what the students see and ask. Tomorrow's 102 will be very much like today's.

And right now, the only real questions I have are, which night is best to go out for dinner with Paul and which dance classes do I most want to attend? Anything else can wait until tomorrow morning, bright and early.

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