The image that best describes how my progress toward the end of semester feels is that of a seal flopping its way up a beach...
I'm not even sure quite what to report today, my brains are so overloaded. It was a good enough day: meetings with students in the morning; the department party (most of which I missed, though I felt rather bad for missing the tributes to Bruce--not bad enough to go down to brave the party again, but sorta bad); meeting students just long enough to collect final essays and hand out end-of-semester self-evaluations; Advisement (not busy, so I got some work done); meeting more students....
The one downer of the day was realizing that several students plagiarized: one in the SF class (a solid--and honorable--student who probably just didn't really think about what he was doing), and two in the later session of 102. One student from the earlier 102 wasn't in class yesterday and didn't pick up her essay today, nor did she meet with me this morning, as was planned: she clearly didn't understand the book at all, so her essay is a lot of meaningless bilge. I like her personally, but I'm not persuaded that she's really ready to move on to the next level--especially if she gets anyone with high standards for reading and writing ability.
I'm facing the prospect of failing students who have managed to hang on this far, and I dislike doing that. But some of them--like the woman I mention above--simply are not ready to move on.
The meetings with students, on the other hand, are immensely valuable. Every student I met with this week was grasping concepts and understanding feedback at levels far above what was possible at the start of the term. I'm proud of them--even the ones who may not pass.
I also liked talking with two students in the SF class today. I don't know why we got just chatting--I think partly because they were happy to sit in a warm classroom instead of crossing campus in this weather (got very cold very suddenly: we're not acclimated to it). We did get talking about politics, which I had to call a halt to, for my own sanity--not because the students were saying anything all that outrageous (though one of them doesn't know a fact from a conspiracy theory, for all that he wants to become a scientist), but simply because I couldn't summon the energy to make any coherent points and because I truly feel that hiding under the sofa for the foreseeable future is a reasonable plan.
Shifting gears: I'll be back here tomorrow...
Whoa: weird: the light in the other side of the office, which is activated by a motion detector, just turned on--and ain't nobody there nor nothin' moving. I think this room is haunted.
Anyway, back on track now, having shifted gears: I'll come in tomorrow to get all the photocopies pulled together to send off for Printing and Publications to make my class readers for next semester--and then that little nagging burr will be removed. I may noodle around with some other stuff as well (sheets I can use to calculate students' grades, maybe some fussing with the online Nature in Lit)... As long as I get the stuff sent off to be copied, I'll be happy enough; anything else I get done will be a little extra dollop of feeling good about having accomplished something worthwhile.
I feel the urge to stay tonight and keep working, in fact, but I'm going to get my little self home before it's insanely late (again). I meet with students three more times, and I'll be doing final grading next week. Jesus, I can't believe it. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not an oncoming train.