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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ah, hell...

I'm very glad I happened to look at my calendar today, because I was on the verge of missing an important meeting tomorrow, having to do with getting the online version (the DEE) of Nature in Lit approved. But that meeting means that the time I was so sure I'd have to finish marking the assignments for the SF class will be truncated if not altogether obliterated. Dammit.

Despite that, however, I'm taking the calculated risk of leaving the last few assignments unmarked tonight. I'm hoping that tomorrow morning's workshop doesn't run the full 75 minutes, or that the meeting about the DEE doesn't take very long, or both. Worst case scenario, I will have to mark the last assignments while students are in their discussion groups.

It did occur to me today that I didn't need to write much on this batch of assignments: they did them without having my comments on their first set of notes, so repeating myself when they hadn't had a chance to even try to improve is just a waste of time. When I get the next batch, I may write more--or not. I do get tired of saying the same things a thousand times to no discernible effect. However, I may give them a thought experiment after I return the final notes on Frankenstein: "Tonight, take out all your notes on the novel and imagine that you have to write a paper about it for Thursday's class. Read over the paper assignment, and the information about how to write a good literature paper. Could you do it, from the notes you have?"

My bet is, even if I give that thought experiment assignment, they won't do it--not unless I make them write something and offer extra credit for it (and even then, only the students who need the credit least will do the work). But ah well.

Further to what tomorrow is going to look like, once again I will have to give tango a pass. I didn't get the assignments marked for the 102s (and collected a new bunch of assignments today), so now I have three things to mark for everyone. The good news is that the attrition seems to already be starting, so I don't have the full 55 students' worth of work to mark--but I do still have a fair amount of marking to do, and I'm now realizing that if I ever do have time in Advisement to mark stuff, I'll have to focus on the SF classes; my T/Th blocks of time--whether they're before or after class--will have to be used for the 102s.

And if I look at how fast I have to turn around the essays for the 102s, I'll fall into a flat panic. I have given myself zero time for that--even if I mark only the essays for the next day's conferences, I'll still be here until god knows when each night, marking madly for the next day...

Stupid scheduling, but I've looked at the calendar multiple times and I just don't see how else I could have timed things, unless I ditched the conferences entirely--but I want to use the conferences for part of my seminar hour obligation, at least as a test drive. Also, I opted not to have the revision/edition process on one paper overlap with the start of the readings for the next paper: that meant I had to find as many days as possible when all we were doing was working on essays, so something had to give. I either couldn't assign as much reading (which would severely limit students' options for paper topics), or I had to give up some grading time. And because of how the Jewish holidays fall this year, I couldn't give myself a weekend to mark: the timing just didn't work. As it is, I'm holding conferences over just three days (instead of the usual four), or starting at the end of one week and continuing into the beginning of the next.

It's just going to be a very bumpy process, like riding over a washboard road in a car with no shocks (or brakes).

C'est la vie.

As for today's classes, however, both went well. I did start with some review of terms and a reminder about what notes are for (and how they are different from annotation), but most of each class was spent talking about the story for today. In each class, a number of students had not done the reading: I let them stay today but told them that starting Monday, I will stick to the policy in the syllabus and make them leave if they come to class unprepared.

Even with some of the students unprepared, the discussions were damned good--especially in the second section. There seems to be a larger critical mass of intellectual brain in that section, which means the discussion got good very quickly--and I had to stop the discussion before the students were out of ideas, which is cool. I'd be very gratified at the fact that in both classes, someone came up with the idea that the story is about the narrator wanting to become a man--but I just discovered, not to my surprise but to my dismay, that there is an online "cheater guide" for the story, and although one cannot access the whole exploration of the themes of the story without paying, there's enough available free to hand students that information. (Note to self: remind students not to use online study guides--though I think I may be standing at an open barn door, looking at the ass-end of a horse disappearing over the horizon. Further note to self: find new stories, ones that do not have cheater guides readily available, if possible.)

Well, onward and awkward, as my buddy Jane and I used to say. Today was passably good. I never ate lunch, so I'm very ready for dinner--but first I have to practice (I've taken to calling it "violence" practice, given my frustration levels). And in order to practice, I have to actually leave the office and go home.

All right, all right! I'm going! No need to shove!

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