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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"Summer off" my ass

The student who is making up her incomplete didn't show today--but to give her credit, she did try to call me many times, and we finally spoke. She's experiencing a technological melt-down--or so she says, and I choose to believe her--so I don't know quite when to expect her paper. I haven't heard from her since about noon, so ... well, we'll see.

I did, however, make good use of the time in the office. I got the reader for 102 pulled together and sent off to the printing office--several days before the deadline. I very optimistically ordered 40 copies; at this rate, if I end up with half that many students across both my sections of 102, it will be sort of miraculous.

I almost included the online discussion board posts thing for 102, but then I realized I'd have to recalculate the grade weights (which I already had recalculates several times as I remembered assignments that needed to have points assigned), so, well, never mind. I may do it some future semester, but not this time. I think what I'll do is put the kind of leading questions I'd thought of for the discussion boards up on the blackboard (or white board, as the case may be), to give students a little focus for their in-class discussions. (Note to self: this is something to include in my reminders to myself in my copy of my syllabus, which includes information about what handouts I need when.)

In addition to figuring out grade weights for everything--for the 102s as well as the SF class--I actually did type up the schedules of assignments and syllabus changes. (Woot! Woot!) I'm going to take all that mishigas home with me so I can review it at some point--after I finish the book review that I sort of conveniently was forgetting I'd promised to submit by Friday--in order to look for errors (highly likely) and so I can start constructing (or revamping) specific assignments.

There was also a moment of flurry when Lori, the only administrative assistant left to us (as the other two are--sadly--very ill and unable to continue working), found me in the copy room and told me that there might be a problem with a full-time faculty member's schedule for fall. Not the usual problem of being assigned multiple sections of courses that may not run (which is endemic): the problem was that this colleague had been assigned a "move-up" course. "Move-up" courses are designed so students who are doing very well in remedial classes can move out of the remedial course half-way through the semester and spend the second half of the semester taking a speeded up version of the first credit-bearing comp (i.e. 101). Because we can't be assured that those "move up" sections will fill enough to run, we generally don't assign them to full-time faculty--because, obviously, if the course doesn't run, the faculty member won't have a full-time schedule. However, in this instance, the faculty member in question has been having health problems and really needs a two-day on-campus week, so she really needed two online courses (the only way we can allow a two-day schedule--and even at that, they're supposed to be three-day). Bruce decided to give her the move-up section to accommodate her need for fewer days on campus--but now we have to hope like hell the thing runs.

So in that last piece, it is the same problem we're having with virtually everyone's schedule: we have to hope like hell things run. Really, truly, seriously scary shit right now. I do not know what kind of magic we might have to resort to. Our newest faculty member lost her position (her line was not one of those to be renewed), and although I feel bad for her, I wish we could persuade a few folks who've been here a long while that it's time to retire, as having fewer faculty would help us handle this ridiculous dip in enrollment.

I probably shouldn't say that out loud, though (or on a platform that I use at work). We do not not not want to lose any more of the new and as-yet untenured faculty, because they're fabulous--but if more faculty are let go, it's the ones at the bottom who'll get the axe. This is one instance in which tenure is not always a good thing: if we could ditch people based on how good they are in the classroom, it would be great--but we do need the protection for the faculty who espouse unpopular or politically incorrect points of view: that's the primary purpose of tenure, and that is why I still support tenure, despite its obvious problems.

Well, enough of that. Depressing. Erase, erase, erase.

I'm sure there is something else I was going to record that's fun or interesting--or at least more positive--but my mind has gone blank. I'm simply going to put all the stuff I've been working on the past two days into my tote bag and tote myself on out of here. As I continue to dip back into work mode, I'll post--sporadically, but there will be at least a few communications from me between now and September 1, when classes start. (On a Thursday. I'm already taking bets on what percentage of the students who have registered for the course by then will actually show up on that first day--and yes, they have an assignment due the next Tuesday. Nothing like shooting them out of a cannon to get the semester off to a good start.)

Until whenever, y'all. And let's give a big cheer for air conditioning (for those of us in climates that need it).

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