I rolled the dice twice this morning: I did not get up extra early, and I did go to Advisement. I still got all the papers marked before the Poetry class--but only because I was granted a reprieve by a student who e-mailed to say she was unwell and wouldn't be in class. I'm sorry she's not well--not only out of pure human sympathy but also because she's one of the best in the class in terms of having something to say--but I did heave a sigh of relief about the time I was given. I needed every second of the time, too, but done is beautiful.
I also have to say that my threat worked. After I got all my record-keeping sorted out, I told them that the deadly silence we suffered on Monday wasn't going to happen any more. I gave them two options: work in small groups first, then talk with the class as a whole, or we stay in the circle but after I read the poem aloud, the students have one minute--timed--in which to begin responding. If the silence goes on for more than one minute, I just move to the next poem. None of them wanted to work in groups, so, OK. I read the first poem and looked at my watch. After a little time passed, I glanced at my watch again. It hadn't even been 30 seconds yet, but one student was sort of stampeded by the idea that the minute might be up and she leaped into the silence. Aces. Beautiful. Reasonably good discussion. I read poem 2. Glanced at my watch--this time not even 15 seconds had gone by, and someone else jumped in. Better and better. After that, I didn't have to wait: someone was ready to talk.
And we were reading some fierce poems today: the theme is "Finding Women's Rage: Second Wave Feminism"--and since the class is predominantly women, hoo-boy did that scratch where we all itch. They loved the poems. Love them. The one young man who was there today said he was OK with being around a bunch of women who were grooving on the piss-off, and indeed, he seemed fine with it. In fact, reading Margaret Atwood's poem "A Women's Issue," which details ways in which women's sexuality has been turned into a locus of torture and masculine control, he said, "Who came up with this shit??" Good question, but it all started so far back, there's almost no way to know for sure. But the female students started to get lit up by the poems. Nice.
The 101 wasn't as torturous as I was afraid it might be, or as it sometimes is. I did go over documentation with them, pointing out how MLA and APA have similar requirements but then how APA is different. No one fell asleep, and several asked good questions. Then we talked some about the article they'd read--which is quite short and more simple to follow than the last (but also, I thought, a bit long on the "yeah, yeah, we know" factor). But they had read it, were willing to point out specific details that struck them in one way or another. Nothing exactly scintillating went on, but it wasn't deadly. I'll take it.
When I left last night, I was in a flat panic about what I needed to get done--but now I'm much more relaxed. The biggest burden of "must do right now" I finished; the rest can wait and will get done in due time. I'm still figuring logistics/scheduling of conferences with the students, but I realize that doesn't have to happen immediately either--neither the conferences themselves nor, as a consequence, my figuring out the logistics. So, I'm remembering how to breathe, which is always a nice thing.
The last piece of relief is the result of the Middle States review board visit to campus. Of 14 areas for evaluation, our campus was found to be deficient in 7--all of them having to do with the administration and board. I just heard, in fact, that the Middle States chairman specifically said that the board is a problem: they need to be trained so they understand the purpose of educational institutions, their role in shared governance, the "culture" of an educational institution.... Slap, slap, slap, slam. I feel a sense not only of relief but triumph about it: vindication, that's the word.
Of course, we don't know what the ultimate outcome will be: there's a whole reporting/response process that has to go on, so what happens to our accreditation won't be known until June, but still, it's absolute manna to feel we've been heard and understood and are being supported in our positions. What will come of all of it remains to be seen, and it's an open question what the university system and chancellor will decide to do about the fact that the board is seen as a central part of the problem (since god knows the board will not change their behavior one iota; they don't give the tiniest little shit what the Middle States team had to say), but things are looking up. (I hope the image from the Sandra Boynton cartoon shows up... )
And with that, much to my amazement, I think I'm done for the day. I'll do a little more noodling organizational whateverthehell and then you can take your Crayolas and color me gone.