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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"I was busy"

I didn't tear any heads off students today in 102--but I came closer. I walked in the door, and a student started to tell me that he'd been unable to upload his paper to Turnitin. I stopped him mid-sentence and said, "Did you check your e-mail?" Stunned look, as if I'd suggested that he perform miracles. I went on, responding to the look, saying "I sent you several e-mails about that. If you'd checked your e-mails, you'd know...." and he said, "I was busy." I gave him the "oh, puh-leeze" look, and he said, "It's not an excuse...." I didn't say--but should have--"Your damned right it isn't," but I did have a mini-rant about the need for them to check e-mail. I said that I'd sent a number of e-mails to them all, and about six of them actually checked, and I said, "Don't make me be the mean bitch up here. I don't want to have to be Mommy." Several of the more adult students smiled at that (all women, all mommies). I let it go pretty quickly and simply did as I did yesterday, explaining what needs to happen next.

I am happy to report that most of those who turned in the first version of their papers had their revisions ready today--and it seems that several more are ready to submit something (even though they don't have it yet). The down side to that, of course, is that I have quite a stack of papers to grade from them. On the other hand, it seems the six papers I got from yesterday's 102 are all I'm going to get--and only three of the students from yesterday's 102 have actually uploaded anything to Turnitin. More of the students from today's class are on top of things--both submitting hard copy and uploading--which is interesting, because generally they're less wonderful when it comes to talking about the literature. Strange.

Still, the lack of responsibility across the board is threatening to become an epidemic. I hope they turn it around--and I've just been sending out the campus-mandated "early warning" messages (which have been changed to "academic progress" messages, so I can also tell students when they're doing well, which is nice). Then again, the usual Catch-22 applies: the ones who are in trouble won't check their e-mail to get the message that they're in trouble.


Nature in Lit was interesting today. I'm concerned about several students, who have suddenly gone AWOL--including, to my dismay, the Slam Poet from last semester. Still, the ones who are there seem to be holding on. Discussion wasn't exactly lively today, but they were all participating, and listening, and making good sense, and apparently understanding the readings better. I have no idea how that class will shake out, but I'm hoping that as we get into more and more contemporary stuff, they'll respond more fully. I'd been worried about Calyx: before the break she'd sent me an e-mail saying that she was afraid she might have to withdraw but didn't want to. After class, we talked about what she should do: I told her (as I always do) that it's more important for her to keep up with where we are now than to keep trying to make up old work and remain perpetually behind, but that if she can do any make-up work, she should focus on the mini-papers first, then any logs she can do. I also said that if she keeps on top of things for the rest of the term, when it gets closer to the end we can discuss what to do about any assignments she may still be missing. She said that whatever life situation had been in her way was improving, thank God, so I'm hoping she's back in it. And the students are very happy that I'm willing to meet with them or have e-mail conversations with them about their mini-papers--and I postponed the next one, so they'd have time to talk to me before they have to do it.

I'm amused by the fact that I don't seem to get used to my new-found awareness that they respond better when I'm more relaxed and flexible. I scare them enough by being nice, apparently, so when I'm willing to work with them, help them, they're so relieved and grateful, it's very touching. Two students in today's 102 had made noises about being to overwhelmed by the class and maybe needing to withdraw--but after I sent reassuring messages to them both, they were in class today and participating. Not just participating, participating with intelligence. I'm delighted with them both, and gratified that my encouragement seems to be paying off.

I need to encourage myself a little, too. I'm missing tango tonight--simply because it took me so long to get things sorted out and mentally organized in order to be ready for tomorrow. Once again, I may regret not getting more grading done tonight, but I'm pretty sure I can get through it all in time. Logs and other homework may have to languish for a bit; all I really care about is getting papers returned to students. I won't truly know what I'm dealing with until tomorrow evening anyway--but even so, one way or another, I will be fine: if nothing else, I'll come up with a contingency plan. I always do.

And truly, I think the exhaustion factor would prevent me from doing anything productive tonight anyway. (I probably would have had a hard time at tango, come to that: it's all about balance, and I don't have much, as I'm plum tuckered.) I'll be best served by getting my little self home, fed, and in bed, the better to face tomorrow, which is, after all, another day (when I'll be stronger).

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