There are seven students left in today's 102. I almost lost another one today, but I refused to let her go. I'm relaxing deadlines until they fall limp to the floor, but if that's what I need to do to keep people hanging on, I'll do it.
The discussion in both classes today was OK: not bouncing off the rafters but not dragging through sludge, either. I cling to the enjoyment of discussion in the M/W 102: if it weren't for them, this semester would be almost intolerable. As it is, I can tolerate it well enough, even find those moments of pleasure.
I did, however, almost snap the head off a student in today's 102. I think she's just profoundly lazy--I mean beyond all reason lazy--but she's "submitted" one assignment incorrectly three times. I keep telling her to take it back and do it right. I could just give her a crap grade for it, but I think she'll learn more by being forced to do the damned thing and to actually follow the directions. One part of it that was important to convey is that I cannot read her mind. If she isn't putting things on paper--or bringing them up in discussion--I have no way of knowing what she does or does not understand and at what level. She tried to give me the "I'm trying very hard" thing, to which my standard response is "I can't grade effort," even though what I usually want to say is, "Really? Then I'd hate to see what happens when you're being half-assed."
It occurs to me to wonder what they think "effort" feels like, looks like. Perhaps they genuinely don't know what hard work is; if they've never experienced it, how would they? Perhaps, compared to what she usually does, she is putting in "a lot" of effort. I have a great deal more respect for the student who missed class today but came to my office to explain that she's keeping up with the reading but simply can't find time to do the written assignments--because she's demonstrating that she knows it takes real time to do those assignments. And she's the one I was afraid I was going to lose, but so far, she's hanging on--by the thinnest of threads, but still not letting go. Good for her.
All in all, I simply need for this semester to be over. It will be, very soon, I know--and I still have some moments of high-octane push yet to get through--but picture an old, latex balloon that has been leaking air for months and now is lying, flabby and pathetic, on the floor: that's what the semester feels like. I need a new bouquet of balloons.
I also need to get home. There's a conviviality event tonight: first I thought I might go to that spot for dinner (it's one of my regulars), but when I remembered that many colleagues will be there, I had to stop and consider whether I feel that sociable. I don't. There's tango class tonight: same problem. Truly, what I want is to be somewhere very quiet and try to forget all about work and everything about it until I have to get up and face the day tomorrow. On my way to 102 this afternoon, I was thinking it was Thursday: the deflation when I realized it's only Tuesday was profound. But still, there's only tomorrow (Advisement and class) and Thursday (department meeting/open P&B meeting, class, class)--and then it's spring break. Surely I can hang on to my sanity and at least a modicum of energy long enough to stagger into that oasis.
Must. Go. Home. Now.