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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

All over but the shouting (well, almost)

The 101 papers were due today. Miss Attitude was in class; I looked through what I'd been given and saw that her paper wasn't there. I asked her about it, and she said, "I'll give it to you tomorrow." I said, "No; you won't." She said (with extra lashings of attitude), "Why are you saying it like that? Didn't you just tell the class we could work on it and make changes?" Yes, I did: here, now, in class. But the assignment sheet and the syllabus both clearly state that I won't accept the final paper late. "So, if I bring it to you tomorrow, you won't accept it?" Correct. Flounce out the door.

Pause.

Flounce back in, hands me the first version--which was an ungodly, sloppy, "I don't give even half a shit" mess: "You want this?" Sure, I said: it's better than a zero. So, off she flounces again. I'll be very curious to see what is in her self-evaluation on Thursday, assuming she shows up and has done the self-evaluation at all. I'll also be interested to note if she contacts me after final grades go up to demand an explanation of why she failed the class.

I'm more concerned about three other students who were not in class today--including the Young Philosopher. The Young Intellectual was also missing, but that surprised me less; he knew he didn't really have a chance in hell of passing--but I wonder if he'll come to the final class. I hate it when students fall apart over the final paper, especially when they simply miss the deadline (and have conveniently not noticed or forgotten that I won't accept it late). But what can I do?

On a much more positive note, the young man who has been so crushed by my commentary on papers past took advantage of the opportunity to read through his paper one more time to make corrections by hand--and he saw that he had an idea in his thesis that he hadn't actually addressed in the body of the paper. I think I'd pointed that out to him in the first version, but the fact that he saw it himself made me want to jump up and cheer. It was also a wonderful moment when he said that he'd read the paper multiple times on the screen, but it wasn't until he saw it printed on paper that he saw the problem. I told him just how thrilled I was that he'd gained that knowledge and could apply it, and we ended up talking a bit about his writing. He writes as a musician, and, he said, he'd thought he was a pretty good writer until he took my class. I assured him that he no doubt is a wonderful writer--in that other genre. However, academic writing is very different, so he had to add a whole new way of writing to his body of knowledge. He finally got it, I think--and I'll take it as a triumph. Of course, I wish he could have had some of those realizations on the first paper, but that he had them at all is profoundly encouraging.

In the second session, the one young man who could have been an A student but would be struggling to pull out a C informed me today that he's decided to take my advice and withdraw--as he doesn't want even a C on his transcript. I approve; we talked about what he needs to do to get the official withdrawal (which, unfortunately, means standing on a very long line at the Registrar's Office), but I do think it's a wise choice for him. And the Young Activist mentioned that she was friends with the artistic soul who had started the semester saying she was up for a challenge and then promptly fell apart. I mentioned that the Artistic Soul hadn't officially withdrawn, so the Young Activist sent her a text immediately, letting her know that she needs to contact me.

And the young woman I talked with at length after class one day, working on developing a formality of tone, said that she will be in touch with me next semester. It was very sweet: she knows I'm going away for the holidays and that I'll be on sabbatical, so she said, "I won't expect you to answer right away." Then, she clarified, "I'll give you until the end of January, but once classes start again and I'm settled back into school, I'm going to be sending messages: 'Professor!'" Perfect, I said: I love it. She was concerned that I'd forget who she is--and I said that if I hadn't seen her in five years, it might take me a while to place her name, but if I see the name, I'll remember that she was my student.

They're always surprised that I remember them. Only once in all my years teaching have I encountered a former student I didn't recognize--and I really didn't recognize her at all: not her name, her face, nothing, and she was in one of my classes the entire semester. Very strange: I can't account for it, except to wonder if it had been a particularly rotten semester or class (apart, of course, from that particular student). Far more often I recognize faces and think, "That was one of mine." I may not remember which class or be able to come up with the name, but yes, I remember them.

At the moment, however, I don't remember much more than that. I was sitting in the second 101 class, two of the students hanging out (because they have classes later in the evening and don't really have anywhere to go), they were talking; I was trying to either read a late submission of a story from one of the Fiction Writing students or to get myself organized or do something, anything, productive--and I finally just gave it up. No can do. I have a huge stack of stuff in a folder and in my "take to Advisement" bag--and I trust that eventually, I'll have everything sorted and graded and calculated and by god finished.

The only other thing of note today was that I interviewed another potential adjunct, and he was terrific. I was supposed to see two of them, but he was the only one to show up--and he showed up late. While I was talking to him, my conversation partner showed up, and I had to ask him to come back later; I think he did, but I was still in the interview, so I'm not sure what the young man wanted, but I'm sorry not to have been able to talk to him. I hope he tries again--and that I'm able to see him if he does.

I am so frazzled now that, as my Okie relatives would say, I don't know whether to wind my ass or scratch my watch. I'm going to call it a day. (What else could I call it, after all?) Hasta manana.

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