I've been sitting here for I don't know how long, futzing around with a handout for the M&D students on the characters in Gosford Park, which I started showing today. I know the film well, but I realized that the beginning is pretty bewildering: everyone is talking very fast in British accents and there are a gazillion characters and the scene shifts back and forth very quickly. But it's a great movie, so, well, I'm going to show it anyway. I'm not sure I showed enough today that we can finish it on Tuesday, but we'll see.
In the SF class today, Mr. Hostile (who isn't) actually beamed at me: he was (annoyingly enough) reading during much of class--but he'd gotten through a very important chapter in which, as he said, "The shit really hits the fan." Yup. I'm glad he's psyched about what's to come.
I met with a student from that class earlier today, too: she's been consistently getting failing marks on her responses--because she's not understanding much yet not trying very hard to understand. Again, I saw her book: nary a mark in it. I gave her the exact same spiel I've been giving over and over and over: annotate your text, go back to reread the parts that confuse you to see if they make more sense when you pay closer attention, respond to specific details, dig in to what confuses you--or what you're noticing and why you think it's important. But--in what seems to be some kind of trend--in my office I saw a completely different person than I've seen in class: alert, bright eyed, eager. She confessed that she was afraid of looking stupid, so I gave her my usual spiel about that: first, if you have the question, chances are that other students do, too, but more important, it's your education, so don't worry about what other students get or don't: you have the question, so get the answer. And just coincidentally, she ended up in the group with Mr. Not-Hostile, and he was smiling at her while the two of them had what looked like an engaged conversation. I don't know what will happen with her, but maybe she can turn it around. That will be quite a breakthrough if she does. I hope so.
During my office hour, one of the students from M&D came to talk to me about a project that he's working on: he's put together an idea for a series of manga that center on solving interconnected mysteries, but he wants to put his ideas into novel form and he wasn't sure how to go about it. I don't think I've said much about this student before, but he's brilliant--and a huge fan of mysteries. He's read almost all the mysteries I've assigned this semester--but in Portuguese, as he's Brazilian. We had a great talk, which wandered from ideas for his books to how to publish to whether he should continue to pursue a career in forensics, even though he's hating his bio and chem classes, or what he should do. I wanted to get the whole think on film so I could take it to the administration and say, "Look: this is what real mentoring is. Maybe this student won't stay at Nassau, but he'll never forget it as an important experience in his life. He's learning what really matters here." I loved it: that kind of exchange is the absolute best part of teaching--that, and the moments when students like Little Miss Lost (the student I was talking about above) suddenly click in and get it.
But my brains just went on the fritz. I have to pack it in for today--for the week, in fact. Oof-dah.