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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

cough cough hack hack

My poor students: I'm clearly walking around like Typhoid Mary, congested and coughing. One student sat through the entire 102 class with his shirt pulled over his nose and mouth, trying to avoid my germs. I don't blame him. I feel somewhat worse today--this thing is kicking the stuffing out of me--but I realized that talking extensively tends to set off coughing fits. Mercifully, because of occasional allergy explosions, I carry a baggie of cough drops with me at all times--and I needed them today. I hacked a bit less in the Mystery class, partly from the build-up of cough drops from the hour before but largely because of a cup of herbal tea with a little lemon and honey. In any event, I want this bastard out of my system soon, so it's going to be another leave-the-office-in-a-hurry night for me. Being even a little under the weather, as I am now, demonstrates very clearly how hard it is to do this job when anything interferes with my energy and focus.

(Just thinking, it is odd: this is my first full day since the clocks fell back, and it was strange to leave the Mystery class after dark....)

Only about half the 102 class was there. I got e-mails from two students regarding their absence--one is awaiting the birth of his son (a pretty good reason not to be in class)--but the rest are simply AWOL. I hope they check their e-mail (unlikely), as I adjusted the reading schedule slightly so we can get caught up with discussion. Certainly, the students who were in class today were relieved about that.

The students were not so relieved to get their papers back, however. (Minor miracle: I didn't think I could get those papers marked in time, but thanks to that early alarm--and a truncated club-hour meeting--I was just able to squeak them out.) One student was hanging about after class so he could tell me how disappointed he is with his paper grade. He's been telling me this all semester. I pointed that out to him: he's been disappointed, but he hasn't done anything about it. I suggested that, if he continues to get grades that are lower than what he wants, perhaps it would make sense for him to meet with me to figure out what he can do better. He allowed as how that might be a good plan--but I'm not holding my breath that he'll follow through. Being mopey and disappointed takes a lot less effort.

The Mystery class was the usual: nothing of note to report--except that most of them are still hanging in there. Prof. TLP, take note: keep this in mind when you work up the assignments for 281 next semester. (I did make a pitch for 281 to the Mystery students: I need to remember to do the same in my other classes. Every now and then, I get a few takers--and I always love it when I do.) In fact, I'm considering re-doing all my lit electives to ease up a bit, at least on the formal paper assignments. It's a shift in priorities for me. My standards are still high, and I will hold to them, but I'm lowering my expectations, if that makes sense. If the assignments are slightly less sophisticated, slightly less demanding in what I'm asking the students to accomplish, I can still have high standards--just for less elevated work.

I don't know if I'm making sense here: my brains are approximately as energized and capable of clear thought as three-day-old oatmeal.

I know tomorrow would be easier if I were to do some more grading tonight, but I refer you to the rating of my mental capacity, above. I have packed the bag I'll carry to Advisement--because there's an Assessment meeting at 9:30 and I will have to go directly from that to Advisement. I know I can't count on much time to do my own work in Advisement: registration opens next week, and students are starting to get the idea that maybe they should consider in advance what to take, so they're ready when their priority comes to the top of the heap.

However or whenever it happens, I hope I can get the revised stories read for Fiction Writing, but if not, c'est la vie. At least I managed to pull an idea for story three out of thin air (sent it to them via e-mail on Monday when I canceled class)--and I know what we'll do in class tomorrow, as well as knowing what their next at-home assignment will be. I think. It's all an improvisational dance, so I'll know more about what I decide after I've decided it.

Oh, random P.S.: I'm pretty sure I said something about panic at the thought that I'd lost all my notes from the two observations I've conducted. I hadn't. On Thursday, from my sick bed, I was mentally reconstructing the day of the second observation--and suddenly remembered that the notes were in a red folder. I'd shoved it into my bookcase (always a mistake: next to the word "chaos" in the dictionary is a photo of my bookcase). I now have it pulled out and more prominently visible. When I'll get a chance to write the damned things up is an entirely separate question--and I have to figure out when to observe a problem adjunct, soon. Ah, but I can't do anything about any of that now. So, it goes on the triage list, but not very high up.

And now I'm going to take my stuffed up, muzzy head home.

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