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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Backing myself into a hell of a tight corner...

Man, I really did not consider time very clearly when I made the assignment schedule for my 102s. I told the students that those who will conference with me before 2:00 on Monday could retrieve their essays after 5 tomorrow, but that means I'll need to mark 10 of them--assuming one who didn't have his essay today will get it to me early enough tomorrow to even have a chance at that. But his goes at the bottom of the stack; I'll prioritize the essays of those who had their essays on time. Even without his, that's still 9 to mark, and I have an 11:30 meeting plus class. I was supposed to have another meeting after class, but I had to ask to reschedule that: there's absolutely no way I could keep it and still get everything done.

In fact, I "should" have worked on a few tonight, but instead, I was setting up the appointment schedule in the tracking software we use for seminar hours. That meant entering the students individually as "new clients" into the system, which was modestly time consuming (but only has to be done once this semester, thank god). More frustrating was the fact that, for no apparent reason, I suddenly was unable to actually put the appointments in the schedule. I hope that glitch gets worked out by tomorrow, as I hope to enter all the appointments before I leave campus. I realize that may not happen, given how manic I'm going to be about grading essays, but that can work two ways: sometimes, when I have to push hard, I get a good head of steam going and can chug along for a good while; other times, when I have to really slog, I hit the wall extra early.

I also have to be on campus at 9 (I ask you!) in order to collect a few signatures for the Distance Ed Equivalency for Nature in Lit. However, one of the reasons I don't feel too bad about having to postpone that one appointment is that it was to work with my distance ed mentor, who will let me know what needs to be constructed before I can get final approval on the online version of the course. I've been pushing ferociously, hoping I could get it to run online in the spring, but I realized that--given the meeting dates for the various bodies that have to approve the thing, and the date when registration starts--I wasn't going to get it approved in time. Shit, but oh well.

Speaking of spring, however, I've put in my pitch for a schedule change: there's a section of Native American Lit without an instructor, so I asked for it. If I don't get it, I've asked to switch one of my 102s, so they both run on T/Th, instead of one M/W and one T/Th. I know that by the end of the semester, all classes meet the same number of times (barring weather cancellations), but week by week things get out of kilter, and it's all but impossible for me to create a schedule that keeps a M/W section even with a T/Th section, or at least even enough that I don't forget who's done what.

Shifting gears, I was pretty pleased with the 102s today, doing their peer reviews of each other's essays. There was only one truly annoying moment: One student is much older than the other students--at least my age, possibly older than I am--and I don't know what's wrong with him, but clearly there is some kind of mental issue there. He's very sweet, and he's trying very hard, but he seems to miss a lot, misunderstand a lot, have a hard time focusing. I almost wonder if he has traumatic brain injury from 'Nam or something. Today, he had two printed copies for me, but his other printed copy was literally printed, by hand, on notebook paper: almost indecipherable and with lots of cross outs, additions, and other confusions. I have no idea how his partner managed to read the mess, but when I saw it, I was horrified. He didn't seem to understand what was wrong with what he had: it was printed, after all. I also said several times that conferences would be in my office, and as he was leaving class, he asked where the conferences would be...

Oh, Bernard. (Billy Jack reference: about 20 seconds into this clip. But I don't go berserk.)

Apart from that, the students seemed to understand the process well enough, and the better students were doing a great job of what they pointed out to each other, both in terms of what they thought worked well and in terms of what they thought could be improved. It's greatly gratifying when that happens. They also were surprised that the time went so quickly. I spent some time at the start of each period talking about the process, from "prewriting" through final version--and they were diligently taking notes. Of course, I don't know how I'm going to feel when I start reading the damned things, but that's a worry for another day.

For tomorrow, in fact. Now, I need to get home. Very early alarm tomorrow, so I can get here by 9, and a jam-packed day. I'm still fighting off this wretched cold, too, so I need as much sleep as I can get.

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