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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Feels SOOOOO good!

My god, it's a minor miracle. I have almost completely cleared the decks. This won't last long--only until tomorrow--but for right now, it's a little slice of heaven. Not only did I easily get everything marked for today's class, I marked everything to return to the Poetry students tomorrow, and I got all my P&B business done (for now). I even took a moment to order the books for the Science Fiction course for the fall--making up my mind on the fly (Frankenstein, yes, though I'll probably have them skip portions; Windup Girl, no, though I wish I could still do it; still the first two of the Maddaddam trilogy--despite the struggle (and the possible overdose on Atwood); keeping The Word for World Is Forest, despite, well, everything). Although I'm only going to order two books for the 102s--The Left Hand of Darkness and a handbook--I haven't made up my mind about the handbook: I've become disenchanted with the one I've been using for the 101s, though I'm not entirely sure that a better alternative exists. Still, this is a benefit to my Evening Supervisor position: I have access to the texts ordered for the adjuncts, so I can take a look at those to see if any of them seem worthy.

In terms of fall, I do still need to make up my mind what I'm going to put into the photocopied readers for 102: I want to make some changes from what I've used in the past, as I've mentioned before--especially to the poetry selections--but right now I'm still trying to stay on top of this semester, not worry too much about the fall. I do have to make some decisions relatively soon, however, so the copy center has time to make the packets for me. And I need to get more copies made of Le Guin's Paradises Lost for the SF class (yeah; I'm keeping that one, too). But later for all that.

When I went down for P&B today, I was reminded of a pearl that wasn't going to fall through the floorboards--it's far too big--but that I had certainly conveniently forgotten about: I need to do the preliminary scheduling for summer classes. The request forms were sitting on the table in Bruce's office, prominently front and center. That's what I'll be doing on Thursday, around any visitations from students.

Speaking of such visitations, the Mystery Enthusiast missed his "mentoring" appointment today--but, thinking he might arrive, I did read the story he wrote for his professor this semester. It's quite charming. I could pick nits with it, of course, and if he were in a Fiction Writing class of mine, I would--but I'm happy just to praise him and stoke his (already rather large) ego a bit. Why not? There will be plenty of times when people work to cut him down to size, and he'll face plenty of rejections; I don't need to play that role right now. And it is truly charming. Logical? Holds up to serious scrutiny? Probably not--but he certainly understands the genre, which is good enough for now.

And class today was, of course, delightful. Students were willing to share their sources, what they've found, why they think it will be valuable--and after we talked a bit about their forthcoming papers, I followed up on a promise I had made last class, that I would share a "mindfulness" exercise with them. I'd brought in a portable player and a CD of "coherence breathing" that I own (which I should use more regularly for my own stress management). I coached them into correct posture, what to do when the mind wanders, visualizing something as a method to maintain focus--and then I played part of the CD: a track that is just a tone and a ticking sound to control the length of inhale and exhale. One student was a little anxious--she opened her eyes a few times, as if to make sure she was still doing the right thing--but the rest simply settled into it. I did a little of the breathing myself, but I kept my eyes open, and it was beautiful to see their faces relax, the expression of deep inward focus. I only let it run for five minutes, and they loved it, would have loved to have it go on longer (and were, in fact, surprised that it had been five minutes: it seemed shorter to them).

I truly love working with them. I'm going to be sorry to have that class end. But in another nice development, one of the best students from the stinky M/W 101 has also signed up for one of my 102s in the fall--in the same section as the Mensch from the T/Th class. How I'd love to cherry-pick my students! Instead, I can only hope that both 102s in the fall are at least reasonably OK--nothing as disastrous as that one class this semester. (I also looked at the enrollment for the SF class: five students so far, not one of whom I recognize, though one name looks very faintly familiar, and I wonder if he's a student who was in the class but withdrew last semester.)

And yes, I notice how hard it is for me to stay focused on now, despite what I said above about the focus on this term being sufficient.

So, all in all, a good day. And I won't mind if Advisement tomorrow is a continual parade of students. Paul said that today he dealt with a discouraging number of lunk-heads, the type who want us to do all the thinking and all the work for them, and I grant that there are days when we have to gasp our way through a lot of bozone. But whatever. I hope tonight's feeling of chipper calm lasts through tomorrow.

And on that note, I want to get out of here. I won't feel quite so calmly chipper when I practice the violin (ow ow ow ow), but perhaps the fact that I have this mood to take into practice with me will help the process be slightly less painful. Whatever practice is like, whatever the next days are like, the semester is all but done, thank god. That's reason to be chipper right there.

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