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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

suspenseful drum-roll

I feel like I'm trying to do a Houdini-esque escape from some impossible tangle of chains and ropes, dangling from a great height--but no, I'm just trying to stay on top of the week. Consequently, I have very mixed feelings about the fact that a fair number of students from the earlier 101 class were conspicuously absent today, and not all those who were there had their papers. The second section was in marginally better shape, but, well, yikes and hooray.

Of course, part of the suspense is that I don't know how many of those missing papers might show up tomorrow--or not (suspense either way). I have completely forgotten whether this version is any faster to mark than the first versions: I suspect maybe so (or maybe I just frantically hope so), as my focus is on sentence-level stuff, which requires less commentary and fewer prompting questions, but the students certainly need to engage in further revision, so I sort of don't know that to plan in terms of time expenditure.

I'm looking at my calendar and wondering how it gets so filled up so fast: between meetings, reminders, and life-maintenance, virtually every single day has something on it for the next three months--and there are plenty of things that probably should be there but aren't. When will I review the sabbatical applications between now and Tuesday's P&B meeting? When will I work on my promotion application? When will I do anything having anything to do with Assessment (which meets next week)? How much shuffling of stuff can I possibly do? And how many more things will I have to shoe-horn into the schedule?

As a very small example of the latter, I got a call today from an evening student who is furious with her professor and needs to come in and complain. (Maybe I should simply point her to that little button in the corner of my blog-post screen: one of these days I do have to click on that to see what it does.) I don't know yet who the professor is, but the student sure needed to vent: I was simply trying to set up the appointment and she kept launching into her tirade about how she's always there, always on time, and he's telling her that her attendance is in trouble, but she's a grown up, she's 34, she's not a child.... Oh, lord help. I'll meet with her tomorrow (even though it's not officially one of my evening office hour nights), hear her out, talk to the professor, see what, if anything, I can do--and if I can't figure out what to do, take it to Bruce. I hope the meeting won't take long, but there it is.

On the other hand, the seminar hours committee meeting that's scheduled for tomorrow may be postponed, as the chair of the committee is ill. That buys me a little paper-marking time this week, but if the meeting is rescheduled, I'll pay for it next week, as we'll then meet on a day when I already have to be in early for Assessment.

Oh, yeah, and because of the time I need to grade student papers, I actually had to move an observation from 10 on a Thursday (plenty early enough for me) to 9:30 on a Monday (ick and likewise yuck)--so on that Monday, I'll have to stay in Advisement later than usual to make up the time, which is what I do on the days when Assessment meets. Everything gets pinched. I don't like things pinched. But I'd rather pinch my schedule on a Monday than run out of time to mark papers that I have to return on a Thursday. And that, my friends, is the kind of calculus that takes up far too much of my mental energy.

I did get all the stories read and commented on, and all the homework marked for the short story class (except for two: one student misunderstood what the revision report needs to be and has to get that to me before I can grade her revision--and the Pseudo-Brit has not turned in his revised story, never mind the report, in addition to being absent yesterday). So I'm all set for tomorrow.

But back to today's classes. The class Bruce observed was tiny--only nine students there--and the video I wanted to show screwed up (because of rotten computer/internet connections), so I had to fling that idea out the window and improvise something else. I was amused to note that I let the class out about 12 minutes early--and the video was about 12 minutes long. Pretty proud of myself that it would have timed so well, if only that part had worked. But we had fun, and--wonder of wonders--Bruce was actually alert and interested throughout the class. He's always written up my classes in glowing terms, but in the past, watching him watch the class, one would think he was bored out of his mind (and indeed he may have been). He even told me, at the end, that he found the information interesting, got caught up in what we were talking about. That's extremely gratifying to hear, I confess, especially considering the source. And the students did me proud: they were engaged, interested, making good points, clearly were prepared--and we had fun. It's great when it all works--and when it works in front of an "audience," even better.

The second class also went well, though at first, it looked like there might only be five people there (just about everyone turned up before the end). I've lost one student because he didn't submit his immunization records--but he was going down the drain anyway, so I'll be just as pleased if he doesn't come back. One student was poised to do well and has suddenly vanished: I sent her an e-mail urging her to contact me, but I think she got overwhelmed by life stuff. It's a shame, but it does happen. The rest of them are pulling together very nicely into a cohesive group, and--as usual with them--the conversation was wide-ranging and lively.

I did show them the video (and the class ended just about on the dot of on time), but I'm not sure it was all that much worth showing. I spent a fair amount of time this morning looking for good videos to show and didn't find much that hit where I wanted it to; maybe I'll look again to see if I can find something for next week. But not for Thursday, I don't think--unless there is a miracle, and all the chains and ropes disentangle and leave me standing safely on the pavement with a stack of marked papers ready to return well in advance of Thursday's classes.

It's chilly as hell in this office, and I'm starting to shiver--which indicates not only that autumn is creeping up on us but that I'm very tired and need to get the hell home. So, off I go.

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