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Monday, July 11, 2016

July post

I came in today to meet with the Mystery Enthusiast, an interesting and typically unfocused meeting: he has a gazillion ideas and finds it very difficult to focus on anything long enough to finish it (a feeling with which I empathize, especially when it comes to creative writing). But after he left, I thought I'd take advantage of the work time--in part because Friday is the last day on which we can submit print orders and be assured that we'll have them on the first day of classes. At this point, the only thing I'll need to print will be the readers for my 102s--but I have sincere doubts about whether I'll be teaching 102. One section has six students in it; the other still has zero. Zero. And it's mid-July.

I don't know what Bruce is going to do. I imagine he's in a low-level state of ongoing panic about it: there just aren't a lot of the options we've used in the past. In the past, we've been able to "level" classes (take students out of a highly enrolled section and move them into another that meets at the same time) or cancel classes with low enrollment and move the students into another section that meets at the same time--but so many sections are running very low we can't do much leveling, and there just aren't that many sections, so there are almost none to cancel, as the only sections we can cancel are those not already assigned to a full-time faculty member.

I really feel for our adjuncts; a lot of them are going to be without work. If we can't fill full-time faculty schedules, we sure aren't going to have classes left over for adjuncts. As it is, full-time faculty may have to teach evening and/or weekend sessions of comp--which are usually reserved for adjuncts--just so they have full loads.

We've seen this slow-rolling disaster coming: as enrollment slips overall, there are fewer new students enrolling, so fewer taking 101, which means a smaller pool of students eligible to take 102--and some of our discrete degrees don't require 102 any more, as it adds credits that are not directly applicable to licensing requirements, for example. Many of SUNY's four-year schools and universities don't require a second semester of comp (even though I can't imagine that their students don't need it almost as much as ours do--and our students can take two semesters of comp and still not know how to write a real college paper).

But all that aside, the other thing I was working on today was trying to figure out the reading schedule for the SF class--and I'm still making them read a hell of a lot. I know, I know, I know: I should ditch Atwood's Year of the Flood--but it fits so perfectly with the ecocrit focus of the last readings that I can't bring myself to do it.

And I can't count how many times I started working through the schedule--chapters Y-Z on X date, that sort of thing--only to realize I was running out of semester. I finally did a rough estimate of how many "reading" days the students have and added up how many pages total I'm asking them to read, then divided the latter by the former--and the total was approximately 23 pages of reading per day, counting weekends but not counting class days. But that had to be pretty flexible, not only because chapters didn't neatly fit that structure but also because, as I looked at the pages, I realized that sometimes pushing a little further would help--and other times, slowing down a little would probably be wise.

The slower readers will struggle. Those who read more quickly--and well (both are required, not just speed)--will do fine. And of course I'm making myself all sorts of promises about setting books up to make them easier to read, but I'll forget, or won't have time: nothing ever works like I think it's going to.

In any event, I'll be back tomorrow. I'm meeting the student from the poetry class who has one more paper to submit to fulfill her incomplete--and I plan to get a bunch more figured out in terms of schedule tomorrow. It would be really nice to have the class schedules worked out soon so I can figure out whether it's realistic to have required online discussions for the 102s, for example. If I do, this time I'm going to pose very leading questions geared to the paper topics and have the discussions stem from my prompts, instead of having the students just post whatever. (Note to self: do that for future 101s as well.)

Well, it will all be whatever it will be, and will work out however it works out. I do find it interesting, however, that since I've been in the office working, I almost couldn't leave without writing a blog post. It's like the way I have to hear a musical phrase all the way through to a resolve if I'm going to learn to play it: without that resolve, everything turns to mush in my head.

But speaking about learning music, I want to get home in time to practice the violin before it's late enough to drive the neighbors bats, so off I toddle.

I'll probably write more tomorrow. Compulsive blogger, that's me.

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