I didn't accomplish much today. I did mark two of twenty-four essays for the SF students--and I spent a fair amount of time checking them against Turnitin, making sure the formats were correct, making sure I know what the various penalties are ... but at this rate, there isn't any chance at all that I will have them marked for Thursday's class. I'd need almost 12 hours, and I just don't have that many hours to work in between now and 1:00 on Thursday.
So, I've essentially given myself the rest of today off--witness the fact that it's still light out and I'm already composing tonight's blog post. I have a plan for how to manage grading the rest of the essays, and that's the part that's sure to come back around and bite me in the ass. I know I will have to spend the weekend grading--again, goddammit. However, since time is of the essence now, I will hold conferences starting next Monday anyway; I'm simply going to tell students that anyone who wants to meet with me on Monday afternoon or on Tuesday before our class can collect his or her essay on Monday morning. The rest of the students--those who don't care about a conference or those who want to conference but in a later session--will get their essays back on Tuesday in class.
It's the "I'll have essays ready for you on Monday at 10" part that's liable to bite me. But we'll see.
The 102s were a bit bumpy today. We started with poetry, and as usual, they're trying so hard to see symbols and to leap to interpretations that they go off piste (a term I particularly love and may have to start using more often). It was hard to get them to focus on exact words--but not to see the words in isolation: to connect them in ways that might make sense. But we'll keep working tomorrow and see if they can gain a little confidence in the process.
I am getting a little sick of the attempts to dodge specifics and to avoid having to follow the "rules." Even when we were doing my ridiculous exercise on "connotation"--come up with as many synonyms as possible for the word "underpants"--they were trying to get around the specificity of "underpants" so their not-really-a-synonym would pass muster. (Particularly annoying in this regard, the student who has found it so impossible to follow directions--and who has been highly resistant to correction. I don't have a moniker for him just yet; the only possibilities that occur to me are pretty cruel. But he tried to get me to accept that "socks" would be acceptable because we wear them under our pants...)
The most annoying example today, however, was from a student in the later 102: she's smarter than she wants to admit to or show, having more than a bit of the "too cool for school" attitude. She tends to ask confrontational questions, to say she "doesn't get" things (such as why it is incorrect in formal writing to use "such" or "so" as a synonym for "very"). Today, I was going over where to find the information for works cited pages, and she said, "I did that, but you said it was wrong." I tried to explain that there were a lot of ways what she had done could have gone wrong, but she was blustering about it, so finally I said, "You know what? If I say it's wrong, you can be sure it is wrong. I do, in fact, know what I'm doing here."
She had the good grace to look a bit sheepish, particularly as other students laughed at my riposte. But really: you're going to tell me that what you did is correct? Set aside the fact that I've been writing longer than you've been alive, and that I was in grad school probably before you were born, but--vide the "grad school" thing--which of us has the doctorate here?
Ach, enough grousing. They are starting to grow up a little, and more of the barbed responses to their weaseling will aid that process.
The nice thing is that two students who I thought had vanished are back in class today--both of them at least decent if not actively good students. One I think is very capable, but she's suffering dreadful anxiety, and she says it's affecting all her classes. Even in the few minutes we talked today about setting up an appointment, she was shaky, almost hyperventilating, and on the verge of tears. I'll meet with her Thursday at 4--or at least that's the plan right now. I can tell already that she's imposing some arbitrary deadlines on herself as if they are matters of life and death; I'm hoping I can get her to see that there are always alternatives. The other student does want to take advantage of mentoring; I hope she's not alone. It will be interesting to see how many students have sufficient interest to either fill out the form and return it to me or to e-mail asking for a meeting.
I feel as if I should have more to report today--more to bitch about?--but I'm pretty well out of steam, in a rather nicely relaxed way. It will be nice to be home before 8 for a change...