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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Whoof! (and other sound effects denoting great relief)

The last of the people I was mentoring for promotion managed to squeak out his application in time for me to write his letter tonight. Now all I have to do is remember to sign the approval page for another applicant (not one of mine), and I'm finished with that bolus of P&B work. I feel rather as if I've been slapped around by dead flounder, but that's not entirely unusual for a Thursday.

Speaking of promotions, I didn't mention earlier that I was presented with an opportunity that would have been a stellar promotion credit: I was asked if I'd be willing to run as a member of the Delegate Assembly for MLA, representing the two-year college interest group. I have no idea how my name came up; I rather wonder if the ASLE liaison to MLA might have said something, or someone from the north-east regional division (NeMLA). Otherwise, I can't imagine why anyone in MLA would know that I even exist. I felt so honored (maybe "thunderstruck" is more apt) that I seriously considered doing it--you know, just 'cause. But really, I knew damned well from the instant I read the e-mail that I wasn't going to do it. I don't need the promotion credit any more (thank all the gods that may be), and it would be a snorting pain in the ass to be required to attend three national MLA conventions to fulfill the duties of my term. That is, of course, assuming I would be elected--and it's entirely possible I wouldn't be (because, again, who outside of NCC and ASLE knows that I exist?)--but I didn't want to take the risk. I have to confess that it's almost a point of pride with me that I have never been to an MLA convention. I'm perfectly content to go to NeMLA next month, especially as I'm going specifically to help out a colleague who was having a hard time finding people to fill the panel she'd proposed, but the national roundup? From everything I've heard, I think I'll pass--so I just wrote the e-mail graciously declining the invitation to be a candidate.

Still, I feel sorta smug and full of myself that I was asked.

But promotions and all like that aside, today was, as I suggested yesterday it would be, just a relentless slog of paper grading. I was running way behind schedule--but then I realized it was because I was simultaneously noting areas for revision and (on a separate copy of the papers) "mechanics" concerns, and I really don't need the mechanics stuff until next week. As soon as I switched to just doing the revision stuff, things moved much more quickly, and I was able to walk in to class today with all of the papers marked.

There were three students in attendance who hadn't submitted papers, so I talked to each one individually. One hadn't done any of it: didn't have a thing, though he said he'd written a bunch of paragraphs but they were all bad. I told him that, in the future, we can work from there--and I'll let him submit the final version, even though he won't have had the benefit of any of the rest of the process. The other two had hard copies of the paper with them, and one had even uploaded his to Turnitin last night. I decided to be merciful. The one who uploaded to Turnitin is in deeper trouble than just that one paper: he's missed so much work (and keeps missing deadlines, not yet realizing that they are not elastic now that he's in college) that I'm not sure he can pass. Long discussion, blah blah blah, but I told him I'd have something for him on Tuesday, so he could participate in that class as much as possible and try to do as much as he can before the last submission is due on Thursday.

The other student who missed the deadlines is potentially very good, but he's also in deep trouble--and he missed the submission because he was on vacation. That right there almost made me say, "No, then: you can't turn in any of it, period." But, well, he could be good, and it seems he really does want to learn. He could be BSing me, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt--and I offered him the same deal I offered the other student who at least had something concrete to give me. This one stayed in class today, trying to soak in as much of what I was saying to the other students as he could. And he knows where he has problems with his paper already, which is good.

We'll see what happens with them from here.

But my favorite part of all this is that the other students were very concerned about those three young men--especially the Divorcee and the Young Mother. They really do have a soft spot for all the "kids" of the class, and want to nurture and protect them. They know that sometimes what the younger students need is to swan-dive into the pavement (as I put it), to suffer the bruises and scrapes (or worse) of screwing up--but they are genuinely distressed at the thought that any of the other, younger students might not make it.

Most of them take care of each other. They share. They know that what I say to one student likely applies to the rest of them, so they listen. I start to talk, and they start taking notes (unlike my other 101). They were deeply engaged in understanding my comments--and, more important, in working to understand what they need to do in order to address those comments. And I ended up having another long chat with the Divorcee and the Young Mother after class (almost made the Young Mother late for her next class, in fact). I told them that I am truly grateful that I end my work week with them. They really do help the end of each week feel like a positive thing--even with all the unmitigated shit that's going on politically, even with all the reasons why I want to get out of this place as soon as I can. No matter what I do next, I will truly, deeply miss that interaction with students. It's manna, a gift from heaven.

Now, however, I need to pack up everything I might need for Monday--including some kind of reminder to myself that I need to drop by the office before Advisement on Monday morning in order to sign that promotion folder and submit my own request for reassigned time (the deal by which I work those hours in Advisement rather than teaching a fourth course). (Oh, and that reminds me: I didn't mention, but my conscience got the better of me, so even though I didn't go to Advisement yesterday, I didn't utterly bail: I'll make up the hours in April.) I'm so addled at this point that I need to think slowly, carefully, and methodically through what I'll need on Monday--and then I'm heading out. I considered using the title "Whine, Wine, or Bourbon?" as the title for tonight's post, but I don't need to whine, not right now. Wine or bourbon: yes. I still have to make that decision. But for the rest, I'm just about as content with the week as a person needs to be. That's a good note on which to end.

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