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Monday, February 10, 2014

Oy, gevalt

Thirteen of twenty-four students in class today. This is the class that was cancelled both sessions last week. This is the class that now is in a frantic scramble to get papers written and submitted so we can be back on track soon after the break. I did hear from one student who was absent today, asking when the new deadline is--but I didn't take the time to write out all the information for him: I told him there's a packet of handouts and that, if he needs any or all of them, he should let me know, so I can leave them on my office door for him to pick up before Wednesday's class.

So, that leaves ten students who have no fucking clue what's going on and haven't bothered to check. Oy gevalt.

On the other hand, the thirteen who were there seemed to be taking it in, willing to buckle down and push through--except for one poor young woman, who is simply utterly confused. She's trying her best, but ... I can't even think of a telling example (or one brief enough) to illustrate the profundity of her bewilderment. I'll lay any money you like that she won't make it through the semester. I hate betting against a student so early on--and, as I always say, I've been surprised in the past--but I don't have great confidence in her chances, given where she stands right now.

By the way, I decided to ditch the hard copy requirement and give them until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to upload their papers to Turnitin.com. I will download their papers and use the "track changes" function in Word to provide comments and feedback. (Turnitin has a comments function but it utterly sucks.) I'll e-mail the papers back to them; they then will have to A) print out the version with my feedback, so we have it as a point of comparison, and B) revise prior to the Monday after the break. They'll be up to their antlers in work over the break--not only revising papers but also doing logs on three poems and answering a set of study questions on a critical essay--but by the end of the week after the break, we should be back on track with the Tuesday/Thursday class.

Unless there are more snow days. I repeat: Oy gevalt.

I also have two-thirds of a decision made about Nature in Lit. I'm ditching the critical material requirement entirely, and I'm allowing revision of mini-papers; I think I mentioned in my Thursday post that I was at least contemplating those changes. The one thing I'm not sure about yet is whether to ditch the Thoreau essay. I'll talk to them about it tomorrow in class. If I cut it out of the schedule, the next question is whether I replace it--or whether I leave the hole in the schedule. If I do replace it, I only have about 400 ideas for what I might replace it with. I do need to keep the paper topic in mind and be sure that anything I slot in place of "Walking" can be seen to suggest something about what nature's "purpose" is. I'd love to give them a chapter from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but I'm not sure they'd find that any more readable than they would Thoreau.

I can't express how much it disturbs me that their reading skills are so deficient. I think I need to say so. I also need to give them the "work through frustration" speech, which I've not yet given. (I have to the 102s but not to Nature in Lit.)

I know I "should" stay and get some more work done tonight--I'd love mark and return everything I have in hand for tomorrow's classes, so my feet are clear for the 102 papers--but no can do: the wall has been hit. I have to get up pearly early tomorrow for an early doctor's appointment, and that will put a crimp in my time for marking assignments--but I'll do what I can between arrival at the office and P&B. Whatever I don't get done, ah well. I have high hopes that I'll be able to get a lot of work done in Advisement on Wednesday--but much to my annoyance, the woman at the front desk sent me every student who came in; I grant you, I was the only faculty adviser there, but at least four of the professional advisers also were there--and yet I saw all the advisees. It's not like students were lined up out the door, but there was a steady stream of them. I still got everything marked for today's class, but if the same thing happens again on Wednesday, I'll have to say something along the lines of, "Could you share the wealth, send students to other advisers, too?" I need that time for grading: since I'm going out with the boys on Wednesday evening, that time on Wednesday and Thursday before classes is all I'll have in which to get all the Thursday 102 papers graded. Then, the first  days of the break, I'll be grading papers for the other 102--though I must say, if there are only fourteen of them, that will make life much easier.

I will be curious to see how it all goes. It's just a bowl of cherries, ain't it.

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