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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

And I was ready!

I actually was ready for today's P&B: such a good girl, reviewed what we needed to review, wrote the charge I needed to write, all set. And then I spaced the meeting. I was sitting up here, "holding office hours" and working on marking student assignments--but today is Tuesday, not Thursday: I don't have an office hour; I have P&B. I don't know what made the penny suddenly drop, but by the time it did, I'd missed 40 minutes of the meeting--and the continuation of an important discussion of a personnel problem that I'd missed last meeting because I had to leave to go to class. Damn and blast and hell.

And tomorrow I have to meet with the truculent, resistant, borderline hostile (or so it seems to me) section of 101--and confess to them that I've lost whatever I used to record their marks on their first annotations/expanded notes assignment.

Shit shit shit.

I'm trying to breathe through this and remind myself that "I am small, and make many mistakes" (in the words of a Mohawk prayer, as related by Joseph Bruchac): I'm a screwed up mortal like everyone else, and sometimes I just screw up more than other times. I am not a bad person. I am not a bad teacher. I can stop with the hair shirts and self-flagellation.

Full confession, though: that work I did when I should have been in P&B? Man, it feels good to have gotten that done. I didn't do anything huge, but I feel like I've emerged from a cloud of gnats.

Prior to that, we had our "Meet and Greet" for seminar hours, and it went surprisingly well. I was afraid we wouldn't have enough students to make it worth the effort, but the "ballroom" actually pretty much filled up. There were some students who had already signed up, more who were there because they wanted to know more about it; there were a fair number of helpful, friendly faculty, too, putting a welcoming face on the program. The overall net gain wasn't significant, in terms of the number of students we're trying to reach, but it's sure more than we had, and every little bit helps. I'm truly hoping the "tell a friend" network starts to kick in.

I also hope to get some of my own students to sign up: I'm going to make a bigger pitch when the perfect opportunity seems to present itself and hope that some of them realize the benefits of the program. But I do have a lot of other specifically course-related stuff I need to do, so I'm not sure where it will fit in. When I do what is--as usual--a highly improvisational dance, and will be even more so as I try to level out the two sections of 101 in terms of what they understand and their confidence levels.

The mystery of class chemistry made itself manifest again today. The library information session got off to a very bumpy start, as a number of the students couldn't log on to the computers to participate hands-on in the session--and the particular librarian was going way the hell over their heads (and leading them to sites I don't particularly like), so I'm not sure how much they got out of the session. But they were working together, helping each other, bonding like crazy. They're more relaxed and open, so I'm more relaxed and funny, and it's a positive-reinforcement cycle.

So, the big question is, can I somehow manufacture a little more of that, just enough to get the chain reaction growing, in the M/W section? Probably unfairly, and certainly without any justification except a gut reaction, I have identified two students as the source of the primary negativity: one is the maybe timid maybe bitchy student I mentioned yesterday; the other is a young man who has been looking at me with an utterly blank expression, as if he's built a wall against anything I might possibly have to offer. I know not to trust those feelings: too often I've had a student who seemed to me to be rejecting everything coming out of my mouth who not only stays the whole semester but ends up telling me that mine is his (or, less often, her) favorite class and that he's enjoyed every minute.

I keep saying that class is like wrestling mercury: I can't get a handle on it at all, as it slips and shifts and splits off in all directions. But I'm still trying. I wish I didn't have to also be the bearer of bad tidings tomorrow, but I do: a lot of them have not been turning in assignments, so they're already behind the curve and doing irreparable damage to their grades. Time for those early warnings--except the "Academic Progress" function of Banner, which was supposed to go "live" today, isn't functioning yet: it takes me to my classes for last semester (and I'm pretty sure their progress in my classes has ended...).

Well, we'll see what tomorrow brings. I'm hoping I can get the poetry students to loosen up and get more brave and daring; I'm hoping I can begin to turn the M/W 101 around. I'm hoping I win the lottery--which is less likely, as I don't play the lottery.

But, you know, tomorrow is another day. Sufficient unto the day, and all that. Tomorrow is as tomorrow does. Tomorrow isn't now. Now, I'm bundling all my baggage into the car and heading off into the night.

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