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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Panic panic! Oh, wait, no, it's OK.

For a brief moment there, I thought either one of today's 102 students had not submitted her final paper or--even more panic--that I'd lost it. Crisis averted: it was simply clipped to someone else's paper. Whew.

It was sweet saying goodbye to that class today. Two of the young men in the class clearly didn't want to go, hanging on to reasons to stay and talk with me--and I felt a lot the same way, as they were two of my favorite students. I did mention that I'll be teaching Fiction Writing in the fall; it will be interesting to see if either needs the credit and signs up. It would be a treat to have them in class again. I also read through the end-of-semester self-evaluations, and I found them very touching. Many of them were quite badly written (making me wonder what I actually managed to teach), but every one of them seemed quite sincere in saying that they were deeply grateful for the class, not despite but because of the difficulty. Each one seemed to believe he or she had gained something not merely important academically but life-enriching from the class--and that's even better to hear.

I realize, however, that my emotions start to get in the way at this point in the semester, and I'm tempted to fudge the grades upward in several cases. I've crunched the numbers for a few of them--including the final papers, which I'm reading as I go (read and grade paper, crunch numbers, repeat for next student)--and when I see the end result, the math makes a harsher calculation than my heart wants to accept. I don't have to actually submit grades until Monday (or later, honestly, though I'm determined to be finished on Monday), so I have some time to think about this, weigh head and heart to find an ethical and just balance.

Another nice note: the young man I met with yesterday just sent an e-mail, including an attachment of his final paper, telling me that he found some perfect quotations and feels that they truly pulled the paper together for him. He wants me to read it before class and tell him what I think; I won't do that (partly as policy, partly because of lack of time and mental energy), but I'm delighted he feels good about it.

Today's assessment meeting even felt productive, miracle of miracles. And I had a brief talk with Bruce about concerns regarding the "seminar" hours we are trying to figure out: in tomorrow's department meeting he is going to mention something about how close we came to losing the work-load fight, and he suggested he might mention some of the things we can do to fulfill our obligation, but I warned him that if he talks about any specific examples, he's likely to get a lot of people very unhappy. I think he's going to be more circumspect tomorrow, simply be reassuring--but Kristin and I talked about it a bit today, and we looked at the actual contract language, which seems to limit us a great deal more than she or I find comfortable. We'll see: the work of that committee will be pretty fascinating, I have to say. But the main thing for the moment is to keep tomorrow's meeting from turning into a melee; it's supposed to be a party, though it will start with Bruce talking about how narrowly we missed getting stuck with that 5-5 load.

Shifting back to the feeling of accomplishment, I also knocked off a few more of those year-end evaluations today. I have three more to do--one of which I need to talk to Bruce about--and I think we've decided to let the fourth one go, as the faculty member in question has been dealing with a difficult situation in his personal life, has even only been working half time this semester to manage it, so it doesn't seem fair to force him to do an evaluation when he probably doesn't have anything to evaluate. I will, by God, get those done tomorrow--and done before I do any more grading. I do not want that mess hanging over my head.

In fact, I'd finish them up tonight, but I have run full tilt into the metaphoric wall. William and I still have some time to fritter away until we head off to meet Paul for dinner, but I can say definitively that the time will indeed be frittered: ain't no more work coming out of this woman tonight. I am in need of a drink, food, and sleep. I don't even need the company and conversation, though it will be lovely. And I profoundly look forward to crossing today off the calendar: that much closer to finished.

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