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Monday, February 3, 2014

All dressed up and nowhere to go

Another snow day. This one caught me off guard: I've been checking the weather, but somehow I missed the fact that this was going to be a major snowstorm. Of course, the official decision to cancel classes was made sometime between my morning e-mail check and my arrival on campus--but as I was driving in, I knew classes would be canceled; the only question was whether I'd have to put in any time in Advisement (my scheduled stint is 11:30-2:30). Nope. All classes and non-essential services closed as of 11.

When I woke up and saw that it was snowing, I thought, "Please just let it hold off long enough for me to meet with my class." On the drive, I started the improvisational dance: how to accommodate everything I had slated for today?

The main concern is the first paper assignment, which I had planned to go over in detail today, as it's due next Monday. And of course, because I can't figure out how to not overwhelm students with information, there are about 45 handouts that go with the paper assignment: Bozo errors, ICE (introduce, cite, explicate: how to handle quotations and paraphrase), SUNY grading criteria, how to sign up for and log in to, Do's and Don'ts of writing introductory paragraphs and thesis statements....

Obviously, we can't cover all that plus discuss two stories in one class session. And it is important that we discuss the stories. And it is important that the students have read both stories and come to class with their logs. Hmmmm.

So, solution: I e-mailed, with the paper assignment pages attached--and I left packets of everything except the intros/theses handouts outside my office door. The e-mailed instructions are, essentially, at very least, go over the paper assignment before class, so you come in on Wednesday, prepared with any questions or requests for clarification. Then, pick up the whole packet and go over it, before class if possible but certainly before the paper is due.

Of course, we know the problem with this: the more shaky students are the ones who will not check e-mail, will not get the packet, will come to class knowing doodely-squat about the whole deal. The good students will be on top of things. But at least I have covered my own ass: I can say, "Well, I sent you an e-mail, and I left the packets." On you, boys and girls.

What I'm hoping is that a few of the good students will have questions, and when I answer those in class, the shaky students will catch on: Oh, this is sort of a big deal. And kinda complicated. Maybe I should pay attention. Worst case scenario: the discussion of the stories is truncated and I don't have a chance to do the exercise I hope to do in which students have to evaluate sample introductory paragraphs. We can always revisit the stories on Monday, before switching to reading the poetry, if there are any points that need clarification; students can incorporate anything new/helpful in their revisions, and I can always do the theses/intros exercise later--or not at all, just leave it with the handout.

I am assuming that campus will be open tomorrow--though I'm betting there will be a late start. I need to get in early-ish, as I have a cover letter to draft for another mentee going up for promotion (and I really should look at her folder again), but I brought student work home with me, so I can be productive if the spirit moves me. Right now, I'm so sore from shoveling that all I want is to have lunch and collapse on the couch--but it would be good to get some marking of assignments done, get it out of my hair before classes tomorrow. We'll see how it all goes.

Meanwhile, I'm cozy at home, making a big vat of soup, and watching the snow come down. Nice.

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