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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Saved by late uploads and no-shows

The only reason I got everything ready "on time" for today is only one student came to pick up her essay after 5 p.m. Also, two of the students whose conference times are on Monday before 2:00 didn't upload their essays to Technically, I don't have to mark them (according to my late submission policy), but I already marked one of them, so I'll mark the other, since I have the hard copies.

And on top of that, the student who has the first appointment--10 a.m. on Monday--has not submitted his essay at all, even though I got a text from him at 5:30 saying he was on his way over to drop it off. I just wrote him an e-mail explaining that I won't mark his essay; I'll just read it and provide a mark (which will be reduced by 50%), but obviously I won't be able to do even that before our meeting. My conference with him, therefore, will focus on why he had such a hard time writing the essay.

We'll set aside the fact that last night he e-mailed to say Turnitin was "closed." Uh-huh: an online platform closes for the night. Sure.

There were two other 102 moments today: One was that a student came by to drop off his essay (which at least he'd uploaded to Turnitin on time) and to sign up for a conference time. He had a couple of questions for me, and it was nice to be able to encourage him a bit: he's struggling with reading comprehension, and I'm not sure he's going to make it, but he's earnest, and I want to give him as much support as I can.

The other was the student I was complaining about last night. He'd called this morning and left a message on my voice mail, saying that he'd made a mistake in signing up for his conference time, so he'd take one of the time slots right after his. I called back and explained that he couldn't come at those times, as other students have their appointments then. I told him when I had time slots available and told him to e-mail, rather than calling, to either take one of those slots or to tell me when he could meet on Tuesday or Thursday. He called back. (So, what part of "e-mail" was unclear?) Then he explained that when I said our class wouldn't meet, he thought campus was closed--even though I explained that at least three times yesterday. (No: your other classes meet on Monday; it's just our class that doesn't meet because we have conferences. Campus is closed on Wednesday; that's why I can't have conferences with you on Wednesday. No: campus is open on Monday; it's closed on Wednesday. We have conferences instead of this class on Monday, but all your other classes will meet. No classes meet on Wednesday. ... Do you think that's clear enough?) He actually has a class at the time he chose for our conference--but he could make it by 1:50 instead of 1:20. So I explained--again--that I can't meet him at 1:50, because I have a student coming at 1:40, and another at 2:00, and back to back conferences straight through until 5. Could he come before his class? Well, he's coming all the way from Yonkers. Could he come on Tuesday or Thursday? No, he only comes to campus on Mondays and Wednesdays. OK, so would he like to come at 5? No, there was some other issue with that.

I don't know how long I talked to him to get him to agree that--even coming from Yonkers--he could make an earlier appointment time. And just to be extra nice, I even reserved the 5:00 time, in case he can't make his morning appointment.

Give me strength.

And shifting gears: the SF class was pretty good, though as we were discussing things with the class as a whole, the Truculent Plagiarist and Mr. Fiance both put their heads down and apparently went to sleep. A lot of good issues came up--but another student I've talked about before gave me more cause for concern. I was talking to his group mates, both of whom are whip smart (though a bit truculent, I have to say), and he said, "You know what stood out to me? The Svetlana Sausages." OK, so there's all sorts of really important stuff going on, but the only thing he comes up with is that the description of the Svetlana No-Meat Cocktail Sausages is gross. It is gross, I grant, but ... really? That's what you got?

Part of what I was working to do was to connect their comments and ideas to some of the bigger thematic issues, the critiques of contemporary society Atwood is making--and I think that's where I lost them, or at least some of them. I know we're whipping through the book pretty rapidly, but the students who are on the ball are fine with it: I heard one of them say to a classmate who has done only one assignment so far, "It's pretty easy, actually." I suppose that balances out the group who couldn't figure out the timelines--still, despite all the discussion and clarification I've provided.

Well, there it is. (

I am so awash in assignments to mark, I am afraid I'm not going to be able to keep my nostrils above water, but all I can do is chug along. I got today's done; I have a shitload to do over the weekend--and if at all possible, I don't want to fall any further behind on marking homework from the SF class, or I really will drown. I have to be firm about Paul's policy: they've gotten feedback, so just whip through them and assign the points, leave it at that. But still: a whole, entire shitload. My own fault, of course: if I didn't assign it, I wouldn't have to mark it, and if I didn't feel so compelled to comment--if I could just do as one of my colleagues did years ago and write, "No. F. Writing Center." or something similar--I wouldn't be so overwhelmed.

But I now remember part of why I decided to ditch conferencing: the time, energy, effort is astronomical.

Now, however, I simply need to organize the stacks of shit, so I know what's what and where it is,and then I toddle off into the darkness. I'm not just going to call it a day: I'm going to call it a week.

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