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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Forget the lit elective?

As I'm slogging through the morass of student essays for the SF class, I am beginning to see more and more sense in Paul's decision to just teach 102 and forget about teaching an elective. What the students think will be acceptable is just so unbelievably gawd-awful, it's making me almost ill. Actually, the majority of them are capable of writing something identifiable as an actual sentence in the English language--but in terms of having an argument and following through on it, even in the most basic sense? No; not this one; nope; not even close; no; no; God no; well maybe but ... no, and on it goes.

Even some of the students I thought would be pretty good: no. I won't know for sure until I've finished them off, but from a preliminary glance, I think there are maybe four that are pretty good--out of twenty-four submitted.

And I don't have time to teach them how to write: they should know by now. It's not necessarily their fault if they don't, but ... oh, God, it's just draining. And dispiriting.

I'm thinking a little about Nature in Lit for the spring--and I have to confess, I almost won't mind if it doesn't run. However, if it does run, I'm going to ditch the reading notes entirely and go straight for the mini-papers thing: that way they get a chance to see what won't fly before they have to do something of substance. I'm also considering completely re-doing what I teach. I know all the important pedagogical reasons for historic sweep, but I think instead I'm going to work on some of the questions in the fliers I'll be distributing (as soon as I get copies made). I don't know exactly when I'll have time to go back to the drawing board and dig through my bookshelves to find stuff that will work, but I really want to teach things that students will have an easier time writing essays about--and that still do what I want them to do from an ecocritical perspective.

As for this weekend, however, I have to take a break from the essay grading, or I'll stop being able to provide any kind of constructive feedback. I still have about eight to grade, I think--but one I already know I'm not going to mark at all. It's the paper submitted by the very perky, cheerful young woman who missed the first three classes, told me she did that deliberately, so she'd have to buckle down and work hard the rest of the semester--and has since missed at least three more classes, so she's officially in "withdraw or fail" territory. I've never done this before, but I'm going to have a withdrawal slip ready, in case she does return to class. I'll just hand her the slip and wish her well.

I'll need to have a confrontation with two students in the early 102 as well. Both of them begged to be allowed to stay in the class; I granted them the ability to do that on the condition that they show up for every class and have their homework ready--and they missed class again. Nope. Bye.

Back to the SF class: the one good thing about the essays is that a lot of the students will withdraw when they see their marks. I don't like actively hoping for attrition, but I'm ready to have fewer of the crap essays to mark.

I can't think of a reframe for today--except that I'm going to spend a little time playing around with the PowerPoint for seminar hours. That will feel like "work" but be fun--and I need a little fun right now.

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