Earlier today, when I was in Advisement, I got so upset about student irresponsibility and the unmitigated crap that is most of their papers that I literally felt nauseated. I cannot stand reading one more paper of the kind of slop that students have been dishing out--and yet many of them missed steps in which I might have been able to give feedback that might persuade them to try something else. I fretted and stewed; I started to revise the syllabus, to consider simply tossing out the first paper, all sorts of possibilities running through my brain. And in the event, I simply told them how miserable I was about where they are and what's been going on, gave them some overall comments (like "Really: I'm quite serious. Your first sentence--not the second, not the third, but the first sentence--should include the authors, the titles of the works, and an overview of your topic"). And I did tell them that the process has been falling apart, not because of me but because they haven't been doing their part. I don't know if they genuinely felt the onus falling on them, but that is squarely where it belongs.
Of course I was preaching mostly to the students who don't need to hear it--and to a few who did need to hear it but don't know they are the intended audience. In the process of talking to them, however, the decision rather made itself: I decided to continue with the schedule and let the chips fall where they may in terms of that first paper. I may revisit the grading at the end of the semester, but I neither want to make things easy for the ones who've been fucking off, nor do I want to penalize the ones who've been working. Working at all, never mind working hard, or working well.
I have a lot of papers to read for tomorrow's class, and there's a department meeting, and I have students coming to my office hour--but once again I'm making the decision to leave the papers here, unmarked, tonight, and hope like hell I can come at them refreshed and with an improved sense of calm and compassion tomorrow and get them evaluated before class.
Right now, I'm too tired--and too wrung out from the internal struggles of earlier in the day--to do more. Even to write more. I feel like my mind has been worked over with a meat tenderizer. I don't know what I need in order to feel sufficiently rebalanced and reenergized, but I'm going to try to find something, starting now.