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Thursday, September 1, 2016

And so it begins--again

I had an absolutely full house for the first day of the SF class--which I find rather miraculous, as it's this strange one day before a holiday weekend. This is what tends to happen with sophomore students, however: they know the drill, and are ready.

Well, most of them, anyway. Three students were missing (but out of 32, that's barely a blip on the radar)--and it actually is a good thing, as there weren't enough desks for everyone, if they'd shown up. I could boot the two senior observers, but I won't. I'm sure that students will withdraw pretty quickly, and meanwhile, I've asked for a few more desks for the room.

In terms of the withdrawals, I don't know names/faces well enough yet to know for sure who the student was, but as I was talking about their first assignment--a statement of self-defined goal for the class, based on what they understand about what the class will require--I saw one young man lean over to another to check that he'd heard correctly: this is due next class? On having that confirmed, he did one of those whole-body expressions of outrage: "This is ridiculous! She expects us to do homework already??" Yep, I do. I sincerely hope he looks at the syllabus, sees how much is required, and drops before Tuesday.

Using Paul's barometer for positive signs of good class chemistry, I'll say that there were a few chuckles and smiles at my jokes--and at the end of class, a student said that he wanted to get contact information from a classmate (excellent!). I said, "Great idea. Look for a friendly face." He did precisely that, and found a friendly face very quickly, cheerfully exchanged numbers, which I take as a good sign.

However, I need to keep in mind William's wisdom about how quickly a class can flip, and how frequently the classes we identify as great at the start of the semester end up going south, while those we start off thinking are going to be disastrous can turn around (though that's far more rare, if my memory is correct). I'm not taking anything to the bank just yet.

Meanwhile, for reasons that remain mysterious to me, although the number of students in one section of 102 stays the same, the actual students keep shifting. Between yesterday and today, at least three have dropped and their places taken by three new students. This is the section that was slow to fill, so it's interesting that it's the least stable of my three classes in terms of population. The others haven't changed since they filled. This one seems to change daily. I'm holding off printing the photo roster until next week; it's silly to print it if everything is going to change again. But I also will have to remember to re-send the e-mail that promises extra credit to anyone who checks e-mail, responds, and writes "swordfish" on the bottom of their first assignment. I want all the students to have the opportunity to respond, and since the composition of the class keeps changing, there are students who won't have gotten the initial e-mail.

That's another difference between the freshmen and sophomores: those who have been students a little longer are more habituated to checking e-mail.

I do, however, use the terms "freshmen" and "sophomores" pretty loosely. A student could have spent many a semester at NCC before taking ENG102--and a student need not have completed more than 30 credits to be eligible to take a literature elective. But it is true that as a general rule, students in 102 have less experience (or have learned less from the experience they've had), while--as I said above--students in lit electives tend to have been around the block a time or two, and know what's what. (Though apparently not all of them are yet familiar with the fact that professors frequently assign work that is due the second day of class.)

It will be interesting to see what happens to my roster for the SF class after today. And I had a lovely talk with an adjunct in the Basic Education Program who simply needed a place to put her heavy bags down while waiting for her classroom to clear. (I'd let my students go early--as usual--so my room was empty, except for me and one or two students slowly gathering up their stuff to leave.) I should note that the Basic Education Program (or BEP) is for students who really should never have graduated middle school, never mind high school. The first test this adjunct has been told to administer tests simple addition and subtraction.

And if that isn't a very sorry comment on the state of American education, I don't know what is.

For my own part, the only question remaining for today is whether I'll have enough energy to go to tango class, as planned. I haven't slept well the last three or four nights, so I'm pretty crunchy, but I did arrange my schedule very specifically so I'd have time to finish class, do my end of day/end of week organizing, post to the blog, and still catch the train into the City, so it would be good to give it a little test drive today. We'll see. I have to do a little noodling before I take off anyway; I'll make the decision when I get close to home.

(Was just about to wrap up when The Mystery Enthusiast knocked at the door. I didn't know who it was, but it was a "shave and a haircut" knock, so figured it was someone actually looking for a specific individual in this office. I'll be mentoring him again this semester, it seems. He also may sign up for Play and Screenwriting, which has low enrollment right now: win/win, for him and my pal Mary, who is teaching the class.)

In any event, I'll post again on Tuesday, unless something exciting happens.

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