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Monday, November 9, 2015

The weirdness continues

It's understandable that the work in Advisement is starting to heat up, so I can't count on having time there to get student assignments marked--but it was tremendously bizarre to have a parade of students through my office during my office hour today. That really never happens. I even had a student waiting while I had someone talking with me--and I don't think that's happened since I stopped doing formal, scheduled conferences with students about papers.

One student came because he needs a good grade in the SF class in order to stay on the football team--and he never handed in the hard copy of his paper. I'm giving him a big break on that (he should get a zero), but what he wrote is pretty much a train wreck, and I didn't give him much in the way of advice, as I wasn't going to actually read and comment on his paper at this point. I do think I'm going to give the whole class a little longer to complete their revisions, however. I'm half tempted to just make the final date for revisions the same for both the first essays--except that just prolongs the agony for so many students who need to know that they're not going to make it. The need to allow the axe to fall is the best reason I can think of for not moving the date for revisions. I don't know. I'm still thinking about it. I'll look at the assignment schedule between now and Thursday and see what makes sense.

But because of the parade of students through Advisement and then through my office hour, I didn't get all the mechanics stuff marked for the 101 students prior to class. It turned out OK: I gave them the reading they'll need to have done for next week so they could get started on that, and we still had time to do some work on mechanics anyway. Tomorrow's going to be a little weird and bumpy, as they're finishing up essay 2 and starting essay 3 at the same time--concrete proof that multitasking is a myth, y'all--but they only have to manage that through next Monday, and then it's all about their final essays.

And if that isn't evidence that we're on the "hold onto your hat and scream" part of the semester, I don't know what is.

But I want to bounce back to talking about those students who came to see me during the office hour. One was a lovely young woman who was in one of my 102s back in 2013: she's applying for transfer into music schools (she's a music major here) and she needs a letter of recommendation--and we got into a great conversation. I was enjoying it so much I almost forgot that I actually had a class to go teach. Just before I saw here, I was talking to a student from the Mystery class; he came to see me once before, worried about his grade--but he's not just worried about his grade: he's worried on a much deeper, more philosophical level. He realizes that his grades are making him think less of himself as a person, that he's comparing himself to his sister and feeling diminished by comparison, that school feels like a prison to him but when he can read the way he wants to, he feels free and happy and excited about what he's learning. He wants to be a Marine, but that's a means to an end for him. That plan frightens me, of course: I don't want him to be damaged in all the ways that being in combat can damage a person, physically and psychologically, spiritually. But I do want him to do what his soul calls on him to do--and right now, I don't think that includes being in the classroom. Because my former student was waiting, I had to cut my conversation with him short, but I encouraged him to come back to talk to me next week, and I very much hope he does. This is the kind of "mentoring" that matters: it may not keep him at this campus--which is what our administrators see as the whole point of mentoring--but it will help him find his way as a young adult, and that will make him think of this place as a place he values, his experience here as one that mattered to him, all of which is far more important in the long run. Or that's what I think, anyway.

I'm on the fence about whether to get up extra early tomorrow to try to get a jump on marking assignments tomorrow. I don't officially have an office hour, but I will be meeting with a student from the SF class who plagiarized--much to my surprise and great disappointment, as he's a diligent, hard-working student and doesn't seem the type to cheat, so I really want to understand what happened. That conversation will no doubt take a while, and there's bound to be quite the crowd in Advisement again, so my time to work on assignments will be minimal unless I do get up early--but, well, I just kinda don't want to. Still, I do have Wednesday off: I won't have to set an alarm at all, though I will have to take work home with me. Hmmm. Well, we'll see.

For now, I'm calling it a day. (What else should I call it; a banana?)

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