Despite my resolve to get through twelve essays today, I got through nine--and realized that I hadn't accounted for three essays in my previous tally, as several students submitted essays but don't have conference times, and I was just looking at the conference times. So really, I probably needed to get through 15...
So, I've hit the wall, but I'm riddled with anxiety about it. If I didn't have to look at promotion folders for Tuesday, I would feel much more sanguine--but I do. It's bad enough that I wasn't ready last week (and I was saved by the fact that we spent most of the meeting on more pressing matters. But I can't, in good conscience, go another week without doing my duty by that committee. And I'd love to bail on Tuesday's committee meeting, but I'd only get 2-3 essays marked in that time, and the guilt I'd feel for blowing off the meeting would certainly outweigh the relief of getting a few more essays marked.
Part of the pressure is also because I'm trying mightily to have Wednesday morning free so I can do my Advisement time and not have to make it up later--but worst case scenario, I can sit in my office and grade essays Wednesday morning for the Thursday conferences. I could even let students with Wednesday afternoon conferences know that their essays won't be ready until later than scheduled. So really, my main concern needs to be about the essays for Monday and Tuesday.
Ah, there: that relieves at least some of the anxiety. As soon as I know I have an escape hatch, things get better. This is another weekend when the requirements of life maintenance put a kink in the work flow, however, which is a portion of the anxiety that remains--but all I can do is see how tomorrow works out, and I can't do that before it's actually tomorrow. (Funny how that works.)
And not that I'm projecting into the future or anything, but in two and a half weeks, it will be Thanksgiving, and that is the official kick off of the fall semester "hang on to the safety bar and scream" race to the finish. Kinda hard to believe we're getting that close, but the time will whip by, even with this current round of essay grading madness.
Clearly I still haven't come up with a solution to the crush of essay grading inherent in having conferences, and I really do want to figure out something that works better for spring--or I'll have to give up on conferencing again, despite the clear benefits I see. I see the benefits primarily in the reduced attrition (so far), but I also do see some improvement in essays after the first round. Many of them are still pretty crappy, but they're not quite as crappy, or not as crappy in the same ways.
But good, bad, or indifferent, this too shall pass. That's the one certainty: things pass. Even mountains eventually erode to nothing. The molehills of my life are nothing by comparison.