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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Practicing my plate-spinning skills

It's been one of those days--increasingly frequent at this part of the semester--when I'm running around like a plate-spinner, trying to keep the crockery from smashing to the floor. I don't think anything's gone smash just yet, but I could have missed the sound in my flurry.

So, the main focus of my energy today was on reviewing sabbatical folders and marking student assignments. The latter was of particular importance for the M&D class, not only because the stack of unmarked homework was reaching rather alarming proportions but also because their next papers are due on Thursday, so they needed their responses back to refer to in order to write those papers--at least in theory. In actual practice, few of them have written responses that will be of any use to them in writing their papers.

I also had to start the class in "evil bog monster from hell" mode. I actually was not as fierce as I've been in the past about the fact that many of them are making it pretty clear how little they actually care about the class by not following the basics of submission requirements--but I did note that most of the people who had submitted revisions had fallen down on some portion of the requirements, especially the submission to Turnitin. I checked again yesterday, and a number of them had submitted to Turnitin late--many of them quite late. I'm pretty sure that what I'm going to do is take the full penalty for everything that can earn an error, which I didn't do originally: late submission to Turnitin, incorrect paper format, whatever. I'll rack up the penalties first, and if they're over the limit, as stated on the paper assignment, I won't read the revision--and I won't read the revision if the penalties are high enough that it's virtually impossible for the grade to be an improvement over the original submission. I sort of suspect I'll end up reading maybe two or three revisions out of the eleven that were submitted.

The same will apply for the students in SF. In both classes I had to give them the lecture about formatting: it's so fucking simple, really, if you can't even be bothered to do that much, why should I think you give a rat's petite patoot about the content of the paper?

Agh. Blech.

I will say, however, that the attrition is finally kicking in. I spoke to the very intelligent young man from M&D--the one who has been taking advantage of the fact that he had been doing well. He said, "You said if we were over 500 we were OK." I said, "That was back then, but you haven't turned anything in since then." Oh. Oops. It turns out that his life is more than a bit of a train wreck on all kinds of levels, and he probably needs to withdraw from everything, take a year off, figure out what he wants to do with himself, and try again when he's got his head on straight. In any event, whatever he does in his other classes, he needs to withdraw from mine. I told him he's welcome to continue to attend, but he really does need to drop.

The attrition isn't precisely a stampede, but there's a noticeable ebb each class period. I suspect that will continue for the next few weeks. It will be very interesting indeed to see how many end up staying.

As usual, the SF class discussion was lively and interesting and fun--and M&D was a little more challenging but not actively painful. It took me longer than I thought it would after M&D to get down to the work I wanted to get done tonight, so I didn't get everything done that I'd hoped to: I'm in the same position regarding homework for the SF class that I was in terms of homework for M&D today: I have to get it back to the students on Thursday--which means I have to finish it tomorrow before I leave, because I will have zero time tomorrow before class, and zero time Thursday before class. Tomorrow, Advisement will be a mob scene; then I go directly to an observation, followed immediately by class. Thursday I have the day I thought I was going to have last week: seminar hours committee at 10, department meeting at 11:30, and class at 1. So, whatever I didn't finish tonight gets done tomorrow after class. Period.

I did get a fair whack at it, though. And I will do a chunk of the reading for Thursday's classes tonight at home. I read at home before bed anyway, so it might as well be what I'm reading for class. I find that as I'm writing this, I'm trying to figure out when I'll do other tasks (grade the final submissions of essay 2 from the 101 students, evaluate the revisions from the lit classes, some committee stuff, blah blah), but I'm going to take it one day at a time. For tonight, I'm cooked. If I'm going to get any reading done, I need to go home and start that. Tomorrow--and each day after--will have to take care of itself. The triage stack keeps shifting day by day. Some days I get more done than I anticipate. Some days, less. I may have to take work home over the weekend to feel like I'm as caught up as I want to be. C'est la vie. Pretty soon, it'll all be over but the complaining about final grades.

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