The last few weeks, students have been falling prey to a stomach bug, and on Friday I got it, in spades. I'm slowly on the mend but still not completely out of the woods--and the illness has meant that I was unable to grade papers this weekend: just could not summon the mental or physical energy. I finally got started today--canceled my classes and office hour to stay home and work--but I didn't make nearly the progress I'd hoped. I am perpetually astonished at how much energy it takes to actively think.
What I'm seeing so far is that some students took my advice about the Three Point Rule for their theses--and more did not. The papers are the usual mixed bag: some dreadful, a few good, most in that strange in-between place in which there is hope but a lot of ground to make up.
So far, one lovely blooper: "His excuse for the murder is that the young woman made fun of his gentiles." Well, an obvious case for justifiable homicide.
I do regret canceling the classes today because it meant I didn't get a chance to work with them on the in-class portion of beginning their revisions. Still, those who are engaged in the homework assignment will be cranking away--and most won't really see the problems in their work until they see the papers come back bloody with my red pen. Situation normal.
I'm going to have to cancel tomorrow's classes, and blow off at least one committee meeting. I'm going to try to get myself in for P&B at least: there's an important issue being decided and I want to be in on the deliberations. But apart from that, I'll be here, cranking away at the papers. Having broken the initial resistance to the task helps some, but I just have to be resigned to the fact that this is a portion of my job that I will never relish but find too important to slight. I am still considering possibilities for how I can lighten the load for myself and still feel I am providing the guidance I want to provide. How many times have my faithful readers heard me say this? The conundrum I perpetually find myself in is how to balance the differential between what I want to provide for the students (because I actually, truly do care, deeply, about the quality of their education) and the stress that I put myself under as a consequence. I've been teaching at NCC for nine years, and I still don't have that worked out.
Well, one continues to learn, yes, and to experiment, try out new approaches, test limits and theories, experiment with different conceptualizations and consequent priorities. A bit like life, actually.