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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Lots to say...

...and I may end up having to say less than I might normally, as I have to get out of here pretty soon to meet a colleague for dinner. It's a good reason to be blasting off campus, but I do feel a little itchy when I feel pressured to blog in a hurry.

But here goes.

Two students withdrew today, one from the 101 and one from M&D. The student from 101 had been mostly silent and uncommunicative, and I'd gotten the impression he was floundering--but when he came to my office, he was bright, articulate, talkative... I teased him about it a bit, saying, "This is the most I've heard you speak!" He said he loved the class, but he had to get more hours at work in order to stay financially solvent: I fully understand. The student from M&D also was in pretty deep water--and he also said he had to withdraw because he didn't have time for all the work on top of a full-time job. Fair enough. But I'm sorry to lose the young man from 101. I hope he turns up on one of my rosters sometime in the future.

A student from the SF class dropped by today during club hour: I wasn't technically available, but she wanted to talk and, well, I was there, so I said I'd meet with her. She was struggling with the book--but as I talked to her, I realized that she has annotated essentially nothing. Everything I say about digging in to details apparently just feels like too much work--but then the students are upset when their cursory reads leave them confused.

But as I entered the SF classroom today, even some of the best and brightest said they were struggling with the reading. Part of the struggle is the multiple time-frames of the narrative structure, but another part is that they are deeply disturbed by the content. (And I'm thinking: if you hate this, you're really going to hate Windup Girl.) But because so many of them are having trouble, I said we'd slow down the reading pace a bit--and for Tuesday, they have to read one more section (a brief one), but their main task is to review the first eight, trying to apply what they've learned to what they already read. My hope is that they'll discover they actually understand a lot more than they think they do. But that means I've had to bump some other stuff, so I'm going to have to produce a revised assignment schedule--and a revised grade calculation sheet. Obviously I won't get that done today, but I may get it done over the weekend.

And what's the mantra? "We'll see."

I was pretty happy that--despite the meeting with the student--I was able to go to the M&D class having reviewed the pertinent chapters of Roger Ackroyd (and actually, I read too far: oops, my bad) as well as having marked all the homework I'd collected last class. I did have to skip the MDC event (sorry William!) but it does lighten the load for next week--which will be important, as I am going to get the next submission of papers from the 101 on Monday, and I'll need to be sharp to stay on top of the marking for those. I have to remind myself not to mark too much, and to focus on the positive--and that, in fact, will require some mental acumen, or I'll slide right back into my old patterns of marking every little jot and tittle.

In the M&D class, we spent some time going over the paper requirements and the topics: I wanted to give them more structure in terms of the topics, but now I feel that I may have flown a little too high and provided topics that they don't understand or know how to approach. Well, it's that perpetual struggle to find the mythical magic assignment that works for everyone.

But I probably should do the same thing with the SF students--though they've been a lot more likely to pull out the paper assignment handout during their group discussions to talk about what they have to do. I also am seeing real signs of them trying to make connections among the readings, which is uber-cool. The M&D students may not be doing that so well, but several of them finally are starting to grasp the purpose of the reading responses and what they should include. Sigh of relief.

As for the hurricane, we continue to monitor the situation, but it looks like we're going to get some rain but nothing significant. Now, I just hope the 101 students didn't count on having the extra time for their papers and come to class prepared.

And I have to dash to meet Mary. Bon weekend, y'all.

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