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Monday, December 2, 2013

That dratted wall

I really wanted to get a few more papers squeezed out tonight, but I've well and truly hit the wall. I don't think there's any possibility I can get the papers done before tomorrow's class, not if the current rate of turn-over holds up, so I need to come up with a plan B. I did do a few over the weekend, but of course not enough to be truly helpful now that the week is here. I have a committee meeting tomorrow, too, and have to be at P&B, as we're going over my cover letter for a colleague's promotion folder, so the only time I'll have is between whenever I get in and that first meeting. Then it will be off to the races.

Sadly, I don't even have it in me to come up with a reasonable plan B right now. The wall. Yes, you can imagine the one from Game of Thrones: it's about that big and about that impervious.

Paul and I had a rather depressing discussion about how our grading has gotten less strict over the years. Well, it was depressing to me, because I hate the sense that I'm now grading my students with the expectation that they're only capable of the kind of work that would fly in bottom tier schools--when I used to pride myself that my grading would hold up at an Ivy League school. No longer. I know damned well that what I'm giving B's and C's to here wouldn't even pass at a top-notch educational institution. And that hurts. I want my students to get to the top, dammit; mediocre is not good enough, for them or for me. But this is the trade off I've been learning to accept: I don't hold the bar quite so high, and more of them feel they can get over it. I wish I knew the trick that some of my colleagues seem to have mastered, of holding the bar very high and somehow inspiring students to leap for it. They may not get over, but they're at least willing to try--where as mine tend to simply give up. Very unhappy sigh.

On a more uplifting note, I had an interesting conversation in the hall with a colleague and blog reader, who said that she's borrowed ideas from my syllabus about scheduling the writing assignments for 102--and she may apply it to 101 as well. I'm delighted my ideas are helpful, but I did blanch a bit when she called them Nazi-like. I suppose I am a petty dictator in my classes and am likely a lot more rigid than I would like to believe (how we see ourselves, versus how others see us: always a disconnect there). Not quite a Nazi, I hope, but I understood the compliment anyway. And thank you. And you're welcome.

She also said that what she'd really love for me to do is a student edition--or teaching guide--for Le Guin's Always Coming Home. That will be my next project.

Right now, however, early as it is, I'm heading home. I'm hoping madly that if I'm home before 8, I can be in bed earlier than usual and thus be better rested for tomorrow--which may make the remaining paper grading go that much faster (which would be lovely). Maybe by then I'll have come up with that plan B, too.

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