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Monday, November 30, 2015

Growf, rowr, bazz-fazz

I am systemically annoyed. The person I am mentoring for sabbatical sent me an e-mail today asking whether I had her letter of support for her application. The applications go over to the college-wide committee tomorrow. I gave her that letter weeks ago, and it's been in her application folder all this time. However, thinking that, perhaps, in her flurry to make last-minute (and significant) changes, she hadn't put the correct letter in her folder, I went down to check--and I saw that there were still a number of sticky notes in the folder. That set off alarm bells--so I brought the folder up here and read through it slowly and carefully to make sure that there were no blunders that might get her application disqualified. (She'd submitted last year but it was a year early, so in a sense she's resubmitting what she sent in last year--but she did make some important changes.)

And that flurry took up a large chunk of the time I had intended to devote to grading papers. So although I had promised myself that I would have the papers for the M&D class graded before I left tonight, it's not going to happen. And tomorrow--and Thursday--I have to meet with colleagues whom I am mentoring through the promotion process, so that will take a big bite out of my time for paper grading during those precious, otherwise uncommitted hours. Looks like I might be setting that six a.m. alarm again this week.

I'm more than a little concerned about the SF class, however--or at least about one student, and borderline concerned about two others. And a few have simply dug themselves into a hole they're not going to get out of. Their papers needed to be submitted in hard copy and to Turnitin last week Tuesday. Three students did neither of those things--and still haven't, nor have they contacted me. My policy is that for each day late for either of those submissions, there is a 50 point penalty, so students who are missing both hard copy and Turnitin are accruing 100 points a day in penalties--and I won't read a paper that has accrued more than 200 points in penalties. It just gets a zero. Period. In addition to those students, two others never uploaded their papers to Turnitin, although I have the hard copies. And one student uploaded to Turnitin but didn't submit the hard copy--although she was in class on Tuesday. And she's one of my better students.

So, a few of those students I don't mind just booting: you're too deep in the hole. Withdraw or fail: only options. A few I'll talk to, find out what happened, decide whether I'll read the paper and allow them to "revise" for some kind of grade.

But that one young woman who didn't turn in the hard copy: I'm really distressed about that. I definitely want to talk with her--and I'm not making up my mind about what to do until after we talk.

Today's 101 was, um, let's go with interesting. Three students were there: the three young men who are left. We had a pretty good conversation--but I did a lot more lecturing than I normally would. They found the reading harder than I anticipated, and I realized that I needed to give them some deep background in order for them to understand the points--and for them to understand  how all the various things we're reading connect. One of the things I love about this class is one of the things that also makes it really challenging for them (and for me, in a way): the topics are big and connect to lots of other big topics. If we start following all the potential tangents, heaven knows where we could end up. But one of the things that frustrates me about a lot of the classes I teach is that we don't seem to have time to just talk about big ideas, and that's one of the great joys of college, as far as I'm concerned: it's a chance for students to be exposed to stuff that requires some long, slow, deep contemplation--including that incredibly difficult thing called self-reflection. And there's a real dearth of that in our society, but I think it's utterly crucial. For whatever reasons, 101 seems to be the place where I find it easiest to get into that kind of talk, and the students love it. It makes writing papers a snorting bitch, because finding a good, clear, laser-like focus becomes painfully difficult, but the class discussions are great.

Yet those are the students I'm losing, and I can't seem to shake the students out of the lit electives--although this latest round of papers is finally going to pare things down. Still, the fact that I actually have to grade this latest round of papers is making me pretty cranky right now.

Well, there you have it. It's a lead-pipe cinch I'm not getting any more graded today: I can't see well enough (literally). I have six more M&D papers to grade, two of which should be pretty good (which means they'll also be pretty fast to grade), and then I can embark on the SF papers. As for now, I get to go home and do the reading for tomorrow's classes. And somehow it all comes out in the end. It's a mystery.

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