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Monday, April 7, 2014

Losing more of 'em all the time

There are still some students hanging on in 102 who should admit defeat and leave. There are some students in Nature in Lit whom I should point to the exits, but I'm trying to hang on to them, just to keep a certain number of students in the room--but honestly, they are still deeply and profoundly lost and probably it is in their best interests to bail. This may be the most discouraging semester I've had at Nassau. I've had some individual classes that were disastrous in the past, but this one is falling apart left, right and center.

Indeed, if it weren't for the M/W 102 class, I'd be completely mired in despair. Fortunately, despite the students who really should be gone, there are enough remaining who have something really going on intellectually that the discussions are pretty cool. And, OK, I admit, if I take a step back from the whining and complaining, we did have a pretty cool discussion in Nature in Lit last week, even if it wasn't actually about the book, much. But that's OK. Part of what makes the books fascinating is that they do make us think about things, important things, interesting things, make us think about them in whole new ways.

I guess I'm feeling weary tonight in particular because I met with a student from Nature in Lit in my office hour, and it was not a good meeting. I think she really wanted me to tell her she should withdraw--and I won't. It's her decision to make, and she needs to make it, hard though it is. She is making things very difficult for herself, however: she's falling way behind in the reading--and she wanted me to tell her that it's OK because she doesn't necessarily have to do her paper about the last reading. But it isn't OK to simply skip it: she must do the reading and submit the logs for it or she won't pass in any event. I tried to make it as easy as possible for her: I told her she could wait until after spring break to decide, see if she could get caught up with the reading over the break, submit all her logs then, submit something for her papers, even just as a place-holder, and then decide if she feels able to continue. But I also told her that she needs to be more focused in class, not just stare off into space (which is her wont), but take extensive notes of the class discussion, even if she hasn't done the reading. I have my doubts, but I want her to at least try.

And the other truly lost soul from that class wants to see me tomorrow. She wanted to meet at 1 (can't: P&B), so we'll see if she can meet earlier. I mentioned that she'd sent an e-mail about her struggles and that I'd told her we needed to talk. I know she went to the Writing Center, but she was absent on Thursday, so I'm not sure what to expect. But somehow I don't think I'll meet with a happy student who's just experienced a breakthrough and is suddenly gung-ho and ready to try something completely new, different--and better--than what she's been doing.

I also keep getting little anxiety jolts, even though I don't truly have anything to be anxious about. I know part of it is just habituated response: surely I must be anxious about something, my body thinks, so it must be time for a little adrenaline flash, as I haven't had one in a while. I have a fair amount of stuff in hand to mark for tomorrow's classes, but I don't have a committee meeting tomorrow, so I believe I can get it done prior to the P&B meeting. And any "big" projects have been pushed to after the break: the observations I already conducted have been written up; the P&B job stuff has been reviewed and prepared; I've done my work for Academic Standing (the college-wide committee I was elected to). There is a little work I could do for the Creative Writing committee, but it needn't be done before the break, unless an opening presents itself. And the two remaining observations--plus Taskstream (pthewy)--will have to wait until I'm well and truly back. The week after the break I'm taking another two days off (enjoying myself), but then--in the last wild dash of the term--I'll be working on tying everything else down. I know it's going to go by in a flash, and although i can't wait to be clear of the emotional sludge of this term, I am not entirely looking forward to the sprint for the finish. I hope I haven't left all my oomph behind on the back stretch but still have some reserves for the final lengths of the race.

I don't have any more in me for today, though, that's for sure. I'll come in tomorrow morning with my enormous mug of coffee and start chipping through the student assignments. Although I'd love to get things sorted out with the worried student who wants to see me tomorrow, a big part of me hopes she can't make it, so I can just chunk, chunk, chunk my way through. But that's tomorrow. Tomorrow is not today: tomorrow is another day. And that's when I'll think about all that.

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