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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Well, not disastrous

It was a day. Not good, not bad: just a day.

I was a little worried in Advisement: there were more students than I was anticipating, so I had to struggle a little (and fend off the secretary, who was bugging me about whether I was ready to see the next person) in order to get all the 101 papers marked, but I did get them done. I didn't get the poetry responses done, so I ended up handing a bunch back, ungraded, which is always a bit risky, as the students often forget to resubmit them for the mark. But that's their too bad, I reckon.

There were seven students in the 101 today: the five who had turned in their papers on time, one who had been in class Monday without a paper but submitted late, and one who hadn't been there on Monday but who had a paper for me today (she'd uploaded to Turnitin already). The other who was in class without a paper on Monday hasn't submitted anything--and several other students didn't submit a thing. I realize that the whole mechanics review step is still a mess: I really need to budget more time for it than I want to--or leave it out entirely. What would be optimal would be to get fully revised papers--nice, clean, new printouts--and then for me to mark those for mechanics, return them to the students the next class, and then have the students go off to finalize. But that means
1 day to collect submissions, which I keep "overnight" to mark for revision
1 day to return the submissions with revision comments and for students to start thinking about revision
1 day to collect revisions, which I keep "overnight" to mark for mechanics
1 day to return submissions with mechanics comments for students to take home for a final polish
1 day to collect final polished versions.
That's two weeks plus a day of class time--and I don't want to spend more than two weeks of class time on the process. I've been trying to condense things, but it's just not working. So I have to decide how I want to do it. I could do a mechanics pass on Turnitin, I suppose, but I'm resisting that--and it creates a bit of a time crunch for me, as I'd still have to wait to get the revision submissions before I could mark mechanics.

Oh, it's too complicated to keep trying to explain. But I'm aware that I need to smooth out the process for the 102s next semester.

I had an idea about how to manage the preliminary essay step in the 102s: more than a draft but less than a completed paper. In the past, I've required mini-papers from my lit students, and I'm now thinking I might do that instead of reading responses for the first two papers (one on short stories, one on poetry): two stories, mini-paper, another two stories, mini-paper: decide which mini-paper is stronger and develop it into a full paper. Repeat for poetry. I'd have to consider how to work the novel reading, however, as they really can't write papers of any size until they've read the entire book, but, well, I've just barely started to think about 102s, and I don't have to get them figured out until, well, later.

And for this semester's 101s, well, the mechanics step will just have to be bumpy.

I had hoped to get more of the Thursday 101's papers graded tonight, but a student from today's 101 stopped by: she was my student in 101 last semester and withdrew (at my urging). This time, she made the decision herself--for exactly the same reasons why she had to withdraw last time. I was thinking about the fact that I might need to have "the talk" with her again, so it was a relief that she showed up with the withdrawal slip--but I ended up talking to her for a good while about what would make most sense for her third attempt at the course: whether she should take it over the summer or wait until fall. She started to realize, as I was talking with her, that she has to learn something about herself to make the decision: how she works best, where she struggles, what she needs to do to stay on top of the work. It was, in effect, a mentoring session, even though she won't be in my class any more.

And there's another young woman in that class in approximately the same boat, except I haven't had to gently shove her into withdrawing in a previous semester. But I do need to shove: she must withdraw at this point, as she's in too much trouble to make it.

The student who was there Monday without a paper and AWOL today worries me, too. She's been doing OK until now, but missing this assignment could completely bollix her chances of reasonable success.

Well, we'll see. In any event, I will have to get up super early tomorrow to make sure I have enough time to get all the papers graded before class: I have a number of students coming to see me to talk about revisions, both from the poetry class and from the 101s. (And I just remembered that one of them is a student from tomorrow's class, and I don't have her paper marked yet, so I need to be sure to mark it first thing when I get in tomorrow.) Still, I think I'll be more productive tomorrow. I know it's a risk, but I'm hoping it works.

Shifting gears, I got word from the Timid Intellectual that she was accepted into her second choice school, so she's happy again--and I'm delighted for her. I think this may be a situation in which the cosmos was looking out for her, and for whatever reason, her first choice wouldn't have been right for her and this is really what she needs. I felt relieved myself at her good news; I didn't want her to suffer any more blows to her self-esteem, which needs to be supported. Good news, good news.

But I've been rebounding off the wall for a while here (and even M&Ms didn't help), so I'm going to head off into the gloaming and call it today. And I'll call tomorrow another day.

1 comment:

  1. As Milton and I would both put it, "Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new." Thanks again for a full day!