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Thursday, October 13, 2016

38 conferences, 1 no-show = success (and a distinct lessening of malaise)

I just finished entering all the appointment data from this week's conference sessions, and it was immensely gratifying to see all the "in-person completed" boxes, with only one "no show." It was also gratifying to have filled so much productive time this week toward my obligatory seminar hours.

My only concern--a minor one--is that my "client report" forms may not contain the kind of data that will best serve our purposes in contract negotiations, though I was honestly able to say that often the conversation started off as assignment-specific but morphed into a discussion of larger academic concerns.

I have to say, too, that my last two appointments were the best. The second to last was a young man--a computer science major--who is intellectually gifted and sophisticated in his reading and writing skills, in addition to having had five years of living experience between high school and now. He understands that, although he may not "like" an assignment or its parameters, his task is to do what is asked. I hastened to assure him that I agree with him: he expressed a distaste for literary criticism, as it feels to him too prescriptive--"this is what the story IS about"--rather than focusing on appreciation of the artistry of a work of literature. But I'm just thrilled to bits that he reads literature for the joy of it, and is aware of the artistry. (It does disappoint me a bit that he took a strong personal distaste to the Le Guin short story "Ile Forest," but its entirely his right not to like it and not to go along with the conclusions Le Guin wants to lead readers to follow.) It was simply refreshing to talk to a student who "gets it."

The last appointment was even better. The student--a young woman--isn't as intellectually gifted, though she's plenty intelligent, but I loved the appointment because we ended up talking about life in general. She's working to overcome some trouble that she got herself into a while back, and she talked about how her therapist has told her she should quit all forms of social media and concentrate on getting to know herself. So we talked about differences in my generation (that I grew up before even answering machines existed) and hers (with the demand for immediate response to every "How R U?"). It was easy and comfortable, and she clearly liked the experience enough to want to repeat it. Golden. I'll sign her up; in fact, I'll work to see her whenever, not just during my specifically designated seminar hours.

Today was, all in all, a reminder of why I actually do love what I do. I came to work expecting to be miserable, in part because I only got about four hours of sleep last night, but also because I had yet another dream about threatening young male students. However, I started the day with two student conferences and a little tidying up of bits on my desk, after which I went to a meeting of the Strategic Planning committee and met with the subcommittee I'm on (and of which I am now a co-chair with a woman who's been on the committee good while, knows the ropes--but whose time is maxed out by putting together her application for promotion to full professor). I feel tremendously behind the curve--it's going to take me a while to understand what the hell is going on--but it's nice to be reminded that I'm working with smart and capable people.

The only stink bomb of the day was during that meeting, when one of our deans presented us with a chart of all the areas on which we need to create action plans or reports of progress--a chart that said that certain things had been "due" in June, when today was the first time the people in charge of those areas were seeing what they were supposed to be responsible for. One of our colleagues respectfully asked for more time to review the document and asked that the report be changed to reflect a later due date for the task assigned to her purview. The administrator who presented the chart kept telling her that everything was from documents from her area, deliberately ignoring her repeated statements that she understood that, but since she hadn't seen the document saying when things were "due" until today, her area should not be accused of missing a deadline. He essentially said, "You don't need time because I said you don't need time," and when pressed to suggest a reasonable due date said she'd have to talk to another administrator who wasn't at the meeting. Fortunately, not only did the secretary of the committee jump in to request that people actually engage in respectful and collaborative conversation that did not include kicking the football off the field, but several other people--some higher up in the administrative chain than he--spoke up with the same concern about charges under their mandates.

Not at all coincidentally, the majority of the leaders of areas whose reports were being categorized as past due are women. This particular administrator has a track record of demeaning, derogatory, and sexist assertions in the documents he produces not only for our campus but for the entire system (including one now notorious report that suggested there are so many women faculty here because this campus doesn't require scholarship or academic expertise: essentially, we can knit and bake cookies--which of course is what we really want to do--to our heart's content because nothing further is demanded of us). This was the first time I'd seen the man in action, and it was one of those cases when I had to stand on my tongue, because I was sure if I'd said anything, it would be incendiary.

The smug, self-satisfied, sexist weasel. (Something along those lines.)

However, the stink of that particular part of the meeting was dissipated by our subcommittee meeting (all women, I hasten to point out, and in charge of a particularly important task, having to do with the college's vision statement and mission statement--a distinction I now understand).

It was wafted away virtually entirely by the SF class, which was in great form (although one particularly good student did, at one point, roll his eyes when another student wanted to hold forth at great length about ... well something at least ostensibly to the purpose but really involving a lot of aimless but energetic ego polishing). The students are largely picking up on the important stuff and talking about it pretty intelligently. There are a few duds in the room (including the Truculent Plagiarist--who did have all his missing homework today but whose missing homework only required one glance from me to be proven wanting), but they're slowly washing out. Most of the gold is starting to truly shine, even some students who were originally pretty resistant to the whole thing.

And then those conferences.

Given the glow I'm maintaining from those meetings, I don't want to think too much about the huge wodges of work I have to take home to complete over the weekend--so I'll just tuck it all into one of my many tote bags and look at it ... tomorrow, if I'm stronger by then. Or Saturday. I have set an intention for how I will deal with it, and I am going to fiercely adhere to that intention, making it a reality.

Now, I need to water the plants and go home to feed all the mammals in my household. I may be posting over the weekend, but if not, certainly on Monday.

Bon Weekend, y'all.

1 comment:

  1. "The smug, self-satisfied sexist weasel." Yes. I'd love to tear Mr PiP a new one. Think of the damage he has done to all of us, all out of narcissism and powerlust. I admire your restraint. BF