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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Where on Earth did I leave my mind?

I seem to be experiencing more than my usual moments of random stupidity, against which, as my father was wont to say, there is no defense. Today I was in the office, holding first Seminar hours then office hours, and I very confidently closed the door at 3:15 and steadfastly refused to open the door to the polite knock of a student. "My office hours are over," I thought, cranky and snotty. "Go away. Don't bother me." I ate my soup, then put on my coat and walked to class, showing up promptly at the stroke of 3:30. I started to walk confidently into the door of the class--and stopped like I'd been smacked. "These aren't my students! And there's some professor in there, talking to them!" First thought, "Am I trying to walk into the wrong room?" Check room number; check mental inventory: nope, that's where my class meets. And finally, the truth of the matter struggled up from the depths.

I was there at 3:30. My class starts at 4. Yesterday was the class that started at 3:30.

I have to say, I'm grateful that I made the error in that direction instead of the other way, but still. (Ass? Elbow? Nope, can't find either, or tell them apart.)

In any event, realizing I had some time to fritter away, I decided to fritter productively: I walked across campus to where the M/W class meets (the one that actually does meet at 3:30) and left the notice about Monday's class being in the library. I then walked back across campus, and arrived at my classroom at 3:47, just when my students were starting to populate the room and as the previous professor was still packing up her stuff. I used the time to get the computer up and running, set up the video clip I wanted to show, shoot the breeze with the students a little...

It ended up being a great class. A question about margins led to a wonderful (to me) tangent about paper formatting and fonts and all that technical malarkey. It was fun. The students were engaged. Things were learned, even if nothing tremendously profound.

One lovely moment was watching the interaction between the two fully adult students in the class: the woman I had the wonderful talk with last week and a woman who's been missing from class (because of work obligations she couldn't get out of) but who has been on top of all the assignments and in constant contact with me. Both are intelligent, motivated--and struggling with all the complexities of being adult students with children of their own. I can see them bonding over that shared experience and situation, and it's great: I will encourage them to use the buddy system to full advantage. In fact, I told them how much I love the fact that they're already taking care of each other, collaborating.

Chemistry. There is nothing to explain it, and no way to manufacture it. This group has it. The M/W class may yet develop it, but right now, any chemistry in that class leads to things dissolving and becoming inert. When I met with colleagues last night, I said working with that class is like trying to wrestle mercury: it won't cohere well enough to grapple with. I keep hoping that the magic will happen--lightening will strike, or whatever makes a class come alive and start to cook--but I know that there are times when that simply won't happen. Can't. Doesn't. Still, I hope.

Apart from the blunders around clocks and all that rot, today was relatively productive. I still have a triage list that is frighteningly long (that P&B stuff looms large), but I got caught up on the discussion board posts for both 101s, which is a relief. I dug down through a few layers of e-mails (which were sitting in my "In" box as reminders that I had to do something with/about them), and I have my roller-pack stuffed to bursting with the materials I'll need Monday morning. The plants have been watered. I kinda think it's OK for me to steal away into the night. Oof-dah.

1 comment:

  1. Thank God. I thought I was the only one who got confused this week (a truncated one) about schedules! No, Prof Payne: we are all overloaded with tasks and burdened by our intensive commitment to teaching and collegiality. A few off times and mistaken room trips are more than balanced by what we do when we get to the right place at the right time.