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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Not what needed doing...

We went through the final check on scheduling today and managed to make some people's schedules less dreadful, which is a good thing--but I'm still concerned about how many problems we may have created and not caught. There's always something, but William is now the Emperor of Scheduling, so any complaints or problems go to him, and then (God help her) to Cathy, who is stuck with the whining and complaining and trying to make schedules for which the courses do not exist.

Well, we did our best. And it's done.

I have to confess, however, that in my blissed out state of being off campus yesterday, I completely, utterly forgot two things. One, I had an appointment with a very patient woman from the faculty training arm of distance ed, which I remembered about five minutes before I was supposed to meet her--as I was driving home from silly, happy stuff having nothing to do with work. Two, I was supposed to at least offer to help the office staff set up the books for the adjuncts (desk copies, for the perusal of). I didn't remember that one at all until I was here in the office today--but bless their hearts, they'd done a perfectly fine job without me. I owe them many times over for rescuing pearls before they fall through the floorboards. There is no repayment that would suffice.

After we finished with scheduling, I started to do a little organizing--and that's when I got sidetracked by a "project" that really wasn't important, but it felt good and was fun, and there will be plenty of opportunities for me to do the work that really needs doing (filing away all the stuff for 101s and the Poetry class, digging out what I have for 102 and SF so I can start thinking about those). Instead, I filed all the grade cards for my students going back to probably 2009; I started dating them in 2012, and I know I was filing stuff older than that. I've had the file boxes; I've had the cards all stacked up ready to be filed. What I haven't done, until today, is simply to do the filing itself.

I suppose I should explain what those cards are. Rather than keeping a book with grads and attendance, as I used to (and as Paul still does, very efficiently), each student in each class has an index card. The student's personal information goes on the front (address, phone number, previous courses in the English department, major/career goals if known, that sort of thing), and on the back I track attendance and record grades. Students can look at their cards at any point in the semester to see how they're doing, and they often do ask (though whether they see what they should be seeing--such as a proliferation of zeroes--is another issue). I keep the cards--far longer than I need to, I know--for two reasons. One, if I'm asked to write a letter of recommendation, I can return to the card and remind myself how well the student did. Two, if I'm ever called to give a reference, again, I can return to the card.

That happened once, but it was a cool thing: a former student who'd gone from here to the Naval Academy in Annapolis had graduated and was going into something that required a security clearance--so I got a call from an officer from the JAG bureau. I don't know why that struck me as such a nifty thing, but it did. I remembered that student very well, but in any case when my memory is more tentative, instead of having to remember what semester and class the student was in, the card is filed alphabetically and therefore easier to locate.

So now the cards really are all filed alphabetically, and the process was fascinating. Not because alphabetizing cards is wildly exciting (the office aides could do it just as well), but because of the memories and realizations. I came across cards from some of my favorite students from way back when. I came across cards for students I'd almost forgotten, but as soon as I saw the name, I clearly remembered the student, sometimes with a sense of pleasure, other times with remembered anger or annoyance.

But what struck me most was how many students took classes from me more than once--often the same course (repeating a 102, for instance), and often, I'm sorry to say, with the same result (usually a withdrawal). I know I've had some fans follow me from one class to another, which is always neat, but I truly didn't realize how many students bombed with me the first time and still wanted to come back for more. I'm not sure if that says more about them or about me, but I'm choosing to take it as a sign that there truly are students who are hungry for a challenge (even if many are not).

And I just did something I haven't done in a very long time: I looked at my "Rate My Professor" ratings. The most common complaint? I assign too much work and am too demanding about my grading, and my explanations are confusing. Most common praise? I'm helpful, the classes are interesting, and what the students learn will last. (I'm sort of sorry that the older comments are not readily visible. My favorite, from ages ago, when my 101s used to be based entirely on environmental issues, was "Hates people. Only likes trees." I'm thinking of getting a T-shirt.)

Having written that, my brain immediately went to trying to plan my fall classes--even though I have no mental energy left at all. I truly believe I will feel better prepared to start that work as I clean up and organize all the detritus from this semester--and since I have to be here on Monday anyway, to meet with the student who failed all three of her Poetry papers and is going to redo all three, I figure I'll do more clean-up then. And I have to be here on Wednesday, to collect the revised paper from Miss Incomprehensible--and to meet, finally, with that poor, long-suffering woman from Distance Ed. I could tell when I spoke with her yesterday that her patience was wearing thin--and quite rightly. But I'm going to stop beating myself up about that. I'm usually the good Do-Bee, so if this time I was the bad Don't-Bee, well, I figure I've earned a little credit. But I won't do it to her again--good lord willin' and the crick don't rise.

1 comment:

  1. From a Do-Bee married to America's leading Queen Bee, empathy re dealing with those who patience (never very thick) is wearing thin. We are swarming out of our hive until the owner cleans up toxic mold. So mot teaching now is actually convenient. Smelling the Blue Roses of Memory to avoid thinking of fall schedules. I wish you silly happy stuff galore, from one RateMyProf from Hell to another. Salud. BF