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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Triumphant clash of cymbals and trumpet blare

Ta-dah!! Of course, I'm completely leaving out of the magic trick all committee work and work on the promotion application, but I feel I should celebrate the fact that I got all the papers marked and still had time to eat my lunch. That, my friends, is worthy of party streamers and applause.

I did, however, temporarily take leave of my senses and volunteered for not one but two sub-committees of Academic Standing--but one is a continuation of a sub-committee I was on last year, so I want to keep working on that project (a reconsideration of the UW policy and its impact on students), and the other should be a relatively simple matter to handle (or so I think at the moment, but academics do have a positive gift for complicating the hell out of even the most straight-forward of tasks). So, yay! More committee work! Woo-hoo! (Cancel the party streamers, please, and return the helium balloons.)

Speaking of balloons, classes today were not quite of the lead variety but close, especially the earlier session. It comes down to the fact that, despite everything I've done to try to make the class more "user friendly," as it were, and to engage the students in the process, it's still a process and a very difficult one. I spent a good amount of time talking down the same student who was so discouraged last go-round, once again explaining to him why simply throwing the whole thing out and starting over was probably not a great idea. The half of the buddy pair who had been missing was back, which was lovely: I'm glad I haven't lost him--especially because he's one of the smartest and best writers in the crew. But the actual class process was pretty ragged--largely because of that frustration factor, I think. I even showed them Taylor Mali's "The the Impotence of Proofreading," and I don't know if anyone so much as smiled. Well, I helped as much as I could, and several of them toddled off to go immediately to the Writing Center. Good.

The second class was better--starting with the fact that they laughed out loud at Taylor Mali (well, yeah: it's funny, guys!). I got a little bogged down trying to help two of the better students, because we were dealing with more sophisticated level problems, but I think I spoke to everyone at least once.

In each class, a students showed up with a second version hard-copy, having just uploaded to Turnitin. Sorry: too late. In each class, at least one student had at best an extremely sketchy paper to work on as a "second" version. Can't help you much there. See me in my office hours, send me e-mails--and use the Writing Center.

It's just hard. I keep coming back to that. This is a hurdle I simply can't lower for them: writing a good college-level paper is hard. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of thought. And I can't make that easier. The only thing that makes it easier is lots of practice, perseverance. Some of them, I hate to say, simply are not up to the task, for whatever reasons.

Well, there it is. C'est la guerre.

The office is a chaotic mess. I have to be back tomorrow to meet with my fellow panelists to get some ideas pulled together for the conference next month (maybe I need to come up with some ideas before I see them?) I'll talk to Paul, too--nice to look forward to that--and if I can, around life-maintenance stuff, I'll maybe chunk away at the promotion application a bit. In fact, maybe I'll do a little right now, as I still have a little mania to burn off. But I can feel the wall fast approaching--and the weekend can't get here soon enough.

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