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Monday, November 16, 2015

And this is also when it all starts to fall apart...

The other thing that happens when we get to this part of the semester roller-coaster is that everything starts to fall apart: students can't keep track of assignments (neither can I), and their assignments get progressively more sketchy and quarter-assed at best. Pearls are dropping through the floor-boards left, right and center. Everyone is staggering around looking pole-axed. It just ain't pretty, folks.

Right now, there's an interesting balance going on within my psyche, between my annoyance with the students who are falling down on the job--specifically not doing what they need to do in order to take advantage of a break they're being offered--and my delight with a few students who came to my office to get help, to talk over ideas, to make connections. One young woman probably should have been in my office about six weeks ago to have the talk we just had, but better late than never--and all I really care about is that she learns something, even if she learns it too late for it to do her any good in my class. The future marine was back today, too: we had a great talk about how to read and read well. He's reading two books at the moment: Marcus Aurelius and a biography of Elon Musk. That should explain a lot about this young man right there. Essentially I told him that there is no "right" way to read: he should read however he feels works for him, however he feels he's getting the most out of the material--and let the material tell him how he wants to read it. I think mostly he just likes that he can talk to an adult about ideas, books, reading, ambitions, without getting caught up in family dynamics or pragmatic career talk. Happy to oblige.

The 101 today was pretty much a disaster--or would have been, if I'd actually tried to teach the class. Five of the eight remaining students were there; three had done the reading all the way through and were ready to talk about it. Screw it. I collected their papers, gave them the handouts for the next few classes, and sent them home. It was a great break for me: I came back to the office and engaged in some organizational futzing that desperately needed to be done. (More is yet required.) I've been working through a stack of ancient assignments for the M&D class--and I am already planning my "I'm very annoyed" speech for tomorrow. Of the students who submitted a revision, a significant percentage left out a part of the requirement (the upload to Turnitin, the marked first version, or both)--or uploaded to Turnitin late. My current plan is to ask them what they think I should do: take the penalty as if this were the first version? Not accept the revision at all and just keep the first grade? What? My own inclination is to refuse to accept  the revision. If I really were to follow my gut, I would also refuse to accept any "revision" that is still incorrectly formatted (three papers). I mean, seriously, how hard is it to find out how to correctly format a paper? And why should I bother to read a paper from a student who can't be bothered to do even that much?

A. Nnoy. Ing.

Well, whatever. Tomorrow, when I come in, first on my agenda is to review sabbatical applications. Next is to take care of some seminar hours business. Then, more marking of assignments until it's time to go to class. I do have to remember that there will be absolutely zero time to do any work in Advisement for the rest of the semester: it's a mob scene in there now that registration has started, so I have to plan accordingly. And my plan for now is to get a little more work done today before I fold my tents (tense?) and steal away. It is both lovely and petrifying to realize that there are essentially only four more weeks before this semester is a thing of the past. Man we run out of time in an all-fired hurry. Like I've been saying: hold on to your hat and scream!

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