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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

And again with the snow

Before 2:30 p.m. today, the administration had declared that tomorrow will be another day of cancelled classes. Fortunately, I had my contingency plan in effect for the 102, and had told the students in 281 to just keep on with reading and logs as if we were having class, so that's all set.

Today's 102 was, um, interesting. Three students seem to be completely AWOL--including Judy Blue Eyes' boyfriend, who made a point of registering for my class and has vanished into the ether. One student was there today and at the end of class asked me where he could pick up the class reader. I didn't even have to lie: I actually have, for the first time ever, completely run out. This is because students sign up for the class, get the reader, then decide not to keep coming--but they keep the reader. I was very nice about it, but I said I can't do anything to get him a new reader until after the break, by which time this paper will have come and gone. I said he could throw himself on the mercy of a classmate, see if anyone would be kind enough to copy the pages we've already covered for him, but that there was nothing else I could do. He asked if the stories are available on line; I said no. As it turns out, one of them is (I guess it's now in the public domain), and there's a (badly done) film of another, but the other two have not been pirated--and are still covered by copyright. So he's pretty much scrawed, as my father would say. I'll be interested to see what he does under this circumstance.

A couple of students didn't have their readers with them; I didn't boot them because, well, at least they were there. But in the future I won't be so forgiving. But speaking of being forgiving, or not, I find I had very mixed feelings simply handing a huge packet of handouts to the people who missed three classes (two to snow days and one to Monday's absence). Part of me felt very confident in my determination to simply turn it over to them: "Here's the information; I'm not going to explain it. It's your job to read this over carefully and figure it out--though of course you can ask questions via e-mail." But there's also, always, that part of me that wants to send them life vests and otherwise do all I can to keep them from sinking. Still, it truly is their responsibility, so, well, there you go.

I was blissfully unpestered in Advisement today: I saw two students the entire three hours. But I didn't get as many papers graded as I'd hoped--which is no surprise. I always have a wildly inflated and optimistic idea of how much time anything will take me, and paper grading is no exception. Still, the first six I graded remind me that I need to mark less. I'm compulsive about it when I have a pen in my hand--but really, what I do is just overwhelming. I've been marking sentence-level stuff, and I must stop--even though that means the first six students are going to have a lot more feedback (or confusion) than the rest of the class.

Of course, it's also possible that the twelve essays I had in hand at the end of the class yesterday will be all I'll get. I did say that hard copy needed to be on the office door by 6 p.m. tonight--and although it's almost 5:30, that box on the door is remarkably empty. So, the next question is, do I give them a break and comment on their papers electronically, if they've at least uploaded them to Turnitin? I don't know. I'll see how things look tomorrow. I did send an e-mail saying that I have to leave before 6 tonight (I do: I'm going out for steak and booze with Paul--and William this time), so anything that is submitted after 5:30 will not be graded until later; some students may take that as carte blanche to submit after 6. I reckon I'll swing past campus either Friday or Monday, see what, if anything, is on the door, and take it from there, case-by-case decisions.

But again, as I noted yesterday, the first essay is always a significant sorting tool: a lot of students bail as soon as they're faced with this first big assignment. And as I repeatedly note, I hate losing students (well, most of them I hate losing), but on the other hand, the attrition does make my job easier as the semester progresses.

I'll be curious to see what it's like to be grading papers tomorrow at home, metaphorically wearing pink bunny slippers. It is harder for me to focus at home, generally speaking, but being able to sleep and not set an alarm is a godsend. With any luck, the sleep factor will provide extra energy and ability to focus and burn through whatever I've got to grade.

I may post tomorrow--it will be a work day, even though it won't be a class day. And I may post when I start grading the papers for today's class; I don't really need to start on those until Saturday, but I may try to keep the impetus going, knowing that I'll have time to breathe deeply after all the marking is done.

So, a bag full of papers and rubric sheets comes home with me. And now, I'm grabbing William and heading out for an evening of gustatory decadence.

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