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Wednesday, October 14, 2015


As the huge mounds of papers come in, I'm working out rubric sheets that I hope will help me grade more rapidly and efficiently. I can't guarantee that will happen, of course, but I'm going to try. I also revised the revision guidelines for the lit electives--and I emphasize the need to focus on what is right, what works. I need that as a reminder myself: I must, must, must point out things that are good in every essay--even the crappiest of them. The students need to know what to keep as well as what to ditch.

In addition, I've made a point of saying in the guidelines that they must not start all over from scratch: that's not a revision; that's a new paper--and if they start all over from scratch, I guarantee that they'll make the same mistakes, just differently. If that makes sense.

I have to say, the stack of student work on my desk looks pretty frightening right about now--but I hope it won't actually be so dreadful.

I'm quite concerned--still, again, more--about the 101 class. I had a good talk with one young woman from the class today: she was trying to handle a full-time job and a full course load at the same time, and she finally told her job that she was going to have to cut back one day a week. (I think even that's probably not enough, but I don't know how badly she may need the work.) She's pretty far behind the 8-ball right now, but I'm not as worried about her. There are two other students--both shaky to start with--who missed both classes this week. That worries me. And there's the student who is showing up but who doesn't seem to be doing any work other than the paper.

And Mr. Irrepressible was irrepressible in class discussion--he has a compulsion to throw in an "intelligent" remark whenever I'm explaining anything (sometimes the remarks are intelligent, but often he's just stretching to find anything that he can contribute as evidence of how much more he knows than the other students). However, he was deeply embarrassed about his paper--but he said so, loudly, in front of the whole class, so I'm not sure how embarrassed he truly is. I told him to focus on this as a learning experience: that his job was to see what he could learn from it rather than using it as an opportunity to beat himself up. But he did say it was only 3 pages (minimum is four)--and until I read the thing, I won't know what happened that made him dry up. One would think he'd have the opposite problem: too much to say and no organization. But at the moment, he's in danger of failing--and his work on this first paper isn't going to help.

I have a strong suspicion that I'm going to have to mentally reweight the grades at the end of the semester to give credit for improvement; if I don't, just about everyone will get painfully low grades, no matter how hard they work from here on.

Of course, that makes me wonder if I need to do something different at the start of the semester to gear them up more slowly--but Christ, I just can't think about yet another revamp of my comp courses right now.

In any event, I need to get out of here. I can't even think of a decent sign off...

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