I've been in the office for a couple of hours now, trying to get things cleared off my desk and out of my brain so I can try to sleep the next two nights. Being away from campus on Thursday was worth the pulled tooth in some regards--god how I slept--but as I've been feeling better physically, I've been feeling increasingly anxious about all the work I left in such chaos when I left. I was sending off e-mails left, right, and center about various committee things that I wanted to get nailed down, all arising out of those meetings on Wednesday, but I realized that I wanted to get in here and get some things worked out, written up, and printed out--and that I'd feel more confident I wasn't forgetting anything if I could refer to my meeting notes.
I also thought I'd get a few of the stories read for Monday's workshop process, but that isn't going to happen. I carried them home with me when I left on Wednesday, and--having not looked at them since--I optimistically carried them back to the office today. Here, however, they're going to stay. I feel anxious about leaving them here, but I know myself well enough to know that I will not look at them tomorrow, and if they're in the house, I'll just feel shitty about the fact that I'm not looking at them. Better to leave them here and come in early on Monday to get a jump on them before I head to Advisement. I probably should bail on Advisement, to be sure I have enough time to get them all done (I may have students actually show up during my office hour on Monday: more on that in a minute), but right now my thought is that I may bail on Advisement a week from Monday, as an extension of my birthday celebration. I don't have to come in to submit my promotion application after all, so I don't think it will hurt to have the day to myself, or at least allow myself to have a late and lazy start.
The reason I may have a visitor in my office hour on Monday is that I'm hoping I get to talk to this semester's student-with-potential-whose-life-is-a-train-wreck. I've written about this young man before, but I don't think I've come up with a moniker for him, and I should. After telling me that he wanted to simply take a zero on the first paper entirely, as he was feeling overwhelmed trying to get caught up, he vanished from class again. I sent him another e-mail, telling him what to do so he can be ready for Tuesday--and his reply indicated that his situation is not getting better, may in fact be deteriorating. I believe I suggested before that he talk to the Center for Educational and Retention Counseling (hereafter CERC), but in my reply to this latest e-mail from him, I reinforced that recommendation--and told him that he and I should probably have a serious conversation about what he can realistically expect from this semester.
My concern is that he is now mentioning psychiatric problems that are just serious enough to be worrisome (albeit not, I think, dangerous to him or anyone else). If he's in that kind of difficulty, he really shouldn't be trying to deal with college, too. I told him that I don't want to lose him from the class--and I don't--but I also don't want him to cause unnecessary stress by taking on more than he can realistically handle.
So, I rather hope he does come in to talk to me, although I don't relish the hard realities I'll need to talk with him about--and I really don't relish the idea of losing him from the class, but my honest thought now is that he should withdraw from the entire semester and start again in the spring--or even later, depending on how things go in the rest of his life.
I also sent out a bunch of e-mails today, reminding students about portions of their paper submissions that are still missing, such as uploads to Turnitin, hard copies of previous versions--or even, in one case, the hard copy of this final version. That student asked me if he could e-mail the hard copy. I said, um, no, because then it wouldn't be a hard copy: it would be an electronic copy that I'd have to print. Apparently some of this terminology is simply opaque. And, of course, there are a few students who simply collapsed under the weight of the process--and again, I'm hating myself as a teacher, thinking I'm just too hard and ask too much. And what bugs me most is, once they decide to give up, I cannot reach them again: they vanish; e-mails do not reach them, and I'm not quite to the point where I'll actually call them on the phone, but even if I did, I don't think it would get them back in the room.
I really have to think about this before next fall. I think I need to talk to them at every single step, reminding them that they need to persevere, that the frustration they feel is good, that they can work through it ... whatever I can think of to say to keep holding on to them so they don't just shrivel up like snails doused in salt.
But this term, I don't know how much I can salvage. There are a few students--in addition to the Wreck Victim above--that I really hate to lose, because they have so much potential, but apparently, they're gone (or at least, they never submitted their papers).
You know, it actively hurts. More than the pulled tooth.
I'd love to end on a positive note here, but I just thought of something else I need to do (rework the scheduling preference form: fuck), so I'd better do that before I forget again--and then I really will get out of here. And Monday really is another day.