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Thursday, January 30, 2014

The spites of life

Well, I managed to get everything done despite being thrown a significant curve-ball by my personal life: the 10:30 a.m. doctor's appointment lasted until 1:00 p.m.--mostly spent waiting. I'd have just rescheduled and left, but this was a specialist whose next appointment wouldn't be for three months. I'm glad I waited--the medical care was excellent (the joys of living in a major metropolitan area!)--but it did mean that I've felt somewhat rushed and flurried since getting to campus.

Nature in Lit was still more than a bit of a lead balloon; I know it's the material, which is difficult, but they're also not really trying, many of them. I modeled working through a difficult passage, asking questions about how one thing might relate to another--and told them that that kind of work can go into their logs and is extremely valuable, even if they don't feel as if they get to something solid. Two young men were conspicuously absent--one of them was Bambi in Headlights the first two classes anyway, so I suspect they may just be gone. One young woman looks like she's going to be a delight. I'm having to do a certain amount of squelching the students from Mystery & Detective--and the best of the bunch, the Serious Student, is going to be away all next week. She's getting the trip of a lifetime from her father, and I'm thrilled to bits for her, but I will feel her absence. One young man is tending to monopolize the conversation just with what he knows about science and the world; I want to encourage him to be engaged, but I also am going to have to sit him down and talk to him about focusing more on the texts. He's severely dyslexic--he's told me--so I understand why he shies away from it, but he is making good sense out of it so far; he just is more interested in showing what he knows than in learning what's new. But he's somewhat balanced by the Serious Student--and another young woman who seems extremely bright, and who is starting to engage: I think she felt a bit shy at first, but she's opening up. Nice.

A lovely moment after class: one very sweet, shy student from one of last semester's 102 classes was waiting outside Nature in Lit today--and she wants to join the class. The official drop-add period is over, but there's a new procedure whereby if I grant her permission--and if Bruce also does--she can still add the class. I'd love to have her join us, and she said, "I knew I wanted to take this class; I don't know why I didn't sign up for it in the first place." I hope it works out: I'd love it for her sake and for the sake of the class.

The 102 was pretty good--even though there were yet another few students who'd never been there before. I haven't run the "name game" in either class yet, as I haven't felt any individual class meeting contained enough of a solid core to make it worth while. Next week I'll do it anyway: I hate not knowing their names at this point.

Shifting gears to the P&B sprockets: I spoke with the colleague I'm mentoring for his tenure application--the one whose neck I've wanted to wring for weeks now. I thought I might have to come in tomorrow briefly to look at his folder one last time, but I managed to do that after class--thank God. I'm not sure what I may have missed, but there's only so much I can do. If he doesn't get tenure because of a technicality, it would be horrible: he's brilliant in so many ways, but even in this "last" pass through, I found things that weren't properly organized or didn't quite match up. Christ almighty, what does it take? It's factory work: put the widgets in the right slots.

And there's assessment stuff building, and I have a cover letter to write, and and and, as always. But I'm tired and I'm hungry and I don't want to stay here until I'm too hungry and cranky. So, off I go.

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