I just said goodnight to the problem adjunct--and god damn am I glad to have that done. (Deep, cleansing breath; deep, cleansing breath.) He did explain away some of my biggest concerns; I'm not entirely sure I believe him, but without any evidence to the contrary, I must simply treat him like an honorable professional and take his word about what he does. However, three concerns remained, so the ultimate evaluation is "needs improvement." I told him that, because of that rating, he'd be observed again in a future semester--and he said he may not be back. I'm not sure if that's because he feels like he's being hounded here or if there is some other reason--and I'm not taking it as gospel that he'll be gone. (Note his caveat that he "may" not be back.) So, I reiterated, if he does come back, we'll observe him again, specifically looking for improvement in the areas I mentioned. If he does come back, all I can say is, if there's another round of observations, I will recuse myself: my previous evaluations will weigh too heavily against any attempt at objectivity, and I think we need fresh eyes on the man.
I will say, he was gracious and polite about the whole thing--but I could feel him holding himself on a very tight rein. My guess is that, buried under the ultra-formal and soft-spoken demeanor, he is a profoundly angry man. But I do feel compassion for him (my goal in every part of my life). It can't be easy to feel under scrutiny, and to have not only one's methods but also, by inference, one's underlying professional philosophy called into question and considered inadequate. He does have another job, and I hope he can find great satisfaction and validation in that venue. I don't think he's going to find it here.
So, now I have to write the damned thing up--and he's being a stickler about the time frame: technically I have 10 days, but he wants it on Monday, one week from when I observed the class, and I'm more than happy to comply, simply to have the whole distasteful process behind me. I'll be happy to cross all the observation write-ups off my to-do list, in point of fact, though his is the only one that will be a challenge to my skills at diplomatic honesty.
(It occurs to me that maybe I need to also develop a "ta-dah!" list, celebrating the moments when I pull yet another I-got-it-done rabbit out of the too-much-on-my-plate hat.)
As I envision tomorrow's work load, I've been waffling about whether to finish marking at least the 102 assignments before leaping into the observation write-ups or not, and I think I'll split the difference. I'll write up this difficult observation report first. Then I'll do some grading. If I still have time before class (and around students coming to my office hour), I'll do more observations. Back and forth.
I have to say, today was mostly a lovely day, despite my slight anxiety about the looming conversation with the adjunct. This morning, when the alarm went off, I decided to turn the damned thing off and go back to sleep: to hell with Advisement. I didn't sleep as late or as well as I wish I had, but even the little bit extra was lovely--and I took my time getting out of the house, a slow, leisurely wind-up to the day. I drove into the lot behind the building--once again just as someone was leaving a legal parking spot (hosanna). I read and commented on the three stories for the Fiction class and finished rereading Hillerman's The Dark Wind for the Mystery class. In class, the workshop process went well, and we were finished extremely early, so I was able to get a good whack at the marking of 102 assignments before the adjunct conference.
My only concern remaining is that Calyx, my lovely Rose in Bloom, was not in class today--and hers was one of the stories we were going to workshop. I think I saw her mother parked near the building, waiting for her to get out of class, too, so I know she must have been on campus. (She told me last class that her mother works just around the corner, and that her mom drives her to and from campus every day.) I sent Calyx an e-mail telling her that the stories I photocopied for next week's workshops are on my office door, ready for her to pick up, and letting her know how we'll reschedule workshopping her story. I'm inclined to worry a bit, but I'm trying to let go of that: there could be any number of reasons for her absence, and since in the past she's been good about checking and responding to e-mails, I'm going to assume I'll hear from her before Monday.
Meanwhile, although I probably could get a little more work done tonight, I'm going to allow myself an end to the day that matches the start of it and head home. I may even take myself out for dinner, as a treat for having gotten through the conference with some modicum of grace. I'm not even going to look at my triage list. I'm going to make sure the stacks of papers on my desk (and on the radiator) make some kind of sense, pack my little bags, and toddle off. It will all still be there tomorrow.