I still feel like I'm about to drown in all I have to do. I managed to get zero applications for promotion looked at this morning. Remembering my own stated priorities from last night, I opted instead to get caught up on the marking for the SF class. That made me think that I need to let a few students know that they have no chance of passing the class--including the Truculent Plagiarist.
I should back up a bit: when I got in, a student from SF was waiting for me. I think I may have mentioned him: he really wants to be a bus driver. He was there with his withdrawal slip, and when I asked him about what's next for him, he said he would not be returning to college. Instead, he's working on getting ready for the test he has to pass in order to become a bus driver. It's an excellent decision for him, and I wish him all the best.
So, as I was marking assignments and creating the "withdraw or fail" notices, I was also doing a lot of "Oh, shit: I have to remember to... let me do it now before I forget" stuff. And I had a long conversation with the woman who was the chair of that problematic subcommittee before me--a conversation that was hugely beneficial. She made it clear that we can slow way down, as there is a lot going on politically on campus, in terms of who has authority over what, that may--probably will--have an impact on what we do as a subcommittee. I asked her if I should cancel the meeting I'd just set up, but she said no, she figured I could still hold the meeting--though she suggested I also check in with the chair of the academic senate to see if she agrees. I'm grateful to be told I can relax about something, don't have to work so hard to make sure things are proceeding apace. I do need to talk with my subcommittee co-chair to fill her in on what's going on; we have a phone date planned on Thursday.
Class went fine. I didn't put the students in groups today; too many were missing at first, and I was afraid that as students showed up late, adjusting the groups would become problematic. So it was a little more lecture-y than usual, and of course only the usual suspect spoke up--until we got a little more philosophical, and I asked them to consider the value of art: what it's for in our society. And yes, that does connect to something that's going on in the reading: one of Atwood's points in the Maddaddam trilogy is that--despite our society's valorization of science and intellect over art and emotion--we are inextricably artistic beings: music, language, perhaps even the "god gene," are inherent in our biology. Even the genetically altered humans designed by a man who did not believe in god, art, or even really in the power of language (except as a sales tool) could not be altered to eradicate the impulse to create music, and of themselves create the beginnings of a theology.
So, that was pretty cool. And then I finally had it out with the Truculent Plagiarist. I had set up a mentoring appointment with him--though apparently he didn't get the e-mail confirmation of the appointment--but looking at his marks, I realized that all the mentoring in the world wouldn't help him pass. Bless his heart, he had even done his revision--before the deadline--but I had to tell him that mathematically, he had passed the point of no return.
Of course, I had to tell him that in different ways about 40 times in the course of a 15-minute verbal tussle: he simply couldn't/wouldn't hear what I was saying. He tried to wiggle past the problems in several ways, but I wouldn't let him. It's too late. No, there's nothing you can do. No, you can't pass. You can fail or you can withdraw. It doesn't matter how good your marks are from here. It doesn't matter whether you did or did not turn in the two assignments that have zeroes next to them. Even if you did better on the revision you cannot pass the course.
My decision to finally lower the boom with him came in part because I got an e-mail from a colleague: he's in her Early American Lit class--and is doing pretty much what he's doing in my class, except apparently he's also disruptive in class (which he generally isn't in mine, though there have been a few times when I've had to tell him that he couldn't talk to me about X at that moment because he needed to be working with his group). She'd said he didn't have many credits, but I looked at his degree evaluation: he would have graduated this semester--except that now he has to withdraw from (or fail) my class. The sad thing is, he's taking it as an elective: he could have taken the credit-bearing equivalent of basket-weaving--something he'd have been absolutely sure to pass--and he would have graduated, assuming he passes everything else. But I suspect he won't pass his American Lit class either. What I don't understand is how he got the grades he got in any of his other classes: someone even gave him a B in ENG101.
Well, he said he'd bring me the withdrawal form on Thursday. I wish him well, but I'll be glad not to have to struggle to teach him any more. I'd still mentor the kid, but of course now I'm just the big bad bitch. Ah well.
Once again I'm struggling against my innate habit of worrying about things I can't do anything about: "When will I read the rest of those promotion applications? When will I have time to work on the distance ed stuff--not only for my own purposes but to get the rest of my stipend and to get the form signed and completed? When will I ... when will I ... when will I ..."
This is why I need a 1950s wife. My cupboards are essentially bare--because I haven't had time to get to the grocery store. If I didn't hire a house cleaner, I hate to think what the state of my apartment would be. Even when there is food in the house, I barely have the time and energy to feed myself anything at all, never mind anything remotely healthy. (A diet of popcorn and chocolate is not conducive to all-over well being, oddly enough.) And there are all sorts of little, annoying life maintenance things that I need to do and never find time to do (like locate a router that I ordered in September, for fuck's sake).
Maybe I need a mom. I'm not sure what kind of help I need (straight jacket? 12-step program?), but it's a lead pipe cinch that the cats aren't going to provide it. (They steadfastly refuse to grade student work for me, too. Useless animals, good only for turning into charming little hats.)
OK, I'm getting loopy: that means it's time to pack it in for today. I did fill the car with gas today, so that's one thing done...
Lord, lord, lord (voice fading, woefully, into the distance...)