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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Stick a fork in me

I'm overdone--but not unhappy, just tired. Some of the dead wood has been disappearing from the SF class, including, today, the Fiance couple; I'm disappointed in her, allowing him to drag her around, but as long as she's in thrall to him, I'm just as glad to see her go. But the ones who are left are starting to really fly with the material. The class discussions are truly fun these days. I do tend to get on a bit of a tear, throwing out ideas, connections, comments--yes, I admit, digressions--but they seem to be soaking it all in. Nice to see the lights on.

I'm still struggling with one student: I think I mentioned him some time ago. He has a very strong science brain, so he sees everything very concretely--and early in the semester we had a lovely talk about ways he could conceptualize the work of reading for analysis. He seemed to understand--but he's not turning in any work. I had another conversation with him not too long ago, in which I told him he had to start turning things in or he wouldn't pass--and I gave him the "Mercy D" option, but it's contingent on his doing all the work and not missing any classes. I felt a tug on my heart when I was laying down the law with him; he didn't actually tear up, but I could see the distress in his eyes. But it hasn't hurt enough yet for him to shape up, apparently: he came up to me after class, asking for more time with assignments. He did manage to get a revision to me today (albeit after class--which was a stretching of the parameters of the agreement), but he's missing his notes on the reading. I hate to see him go, but I think I'm going to have to let him know that he has fallen down on his side of the agreement about the Mercy D.

To balance that, however, I met earlier today with a student who had been in one of my 102s, extremely bright, slightly older (almost 23)--but who had gone AWOL. I pursued her, all but begged her to contact me--and it took her a while to do it, but she did. She said it meant a lot to her that I'd reached out, and I'm delighted to have her among my mentees, even though she's dropping the class. There's a chance she'll sign up for Nature in Lit in the spring, if she can get 102 squared away over the winter term.

And--cherry on top of that lovely sundae--she'd love to cat-sit. She may not be able to do it, ultimately, as she's allergic to cats, but she's willing to take allergy pills and try it out, at least for a short stay at first--and we'll see how it goes. Mostly, I'm delighted to have another in the string of former students with whom I've developed a friendly relationship off campus.

As for work, I am taking two calculated risks--both having to do with putting off essay grading. I'm going to leave here tonight without marking any more than the two I promised to have ready, and I'm going to have my usual Friday of being a student: violin and riding. It feels delicious to make that choice. I don't want to say they're things I do just for me, because the way I teach is also "just for me": I decide what kind of teacher I want to be, and what makes me feel good about myself as a professional in general, so although I do have to teach to get paid, the way I teach is "just for me." But being a student is something I do that is separate from my career self, that feeds another part of the person who is also a professor.

And it isn't ungodly late yet--but it will be if I don't get a move on and get out of here. I have that bag filled with student essays to mark over the weekend (and including the beautiful editor's desk that I love so much), all packed and ready to go. I'll water the plants, and then, o faithful readers, I really will be done.

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