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Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday progress

It's almost a running joke in my family (and certainly was with my ex) that I have absolutely no clue how long it takes to do anything. Brush my hair? Half an hour. Climb Mt. Everest? Half an hour. I don't know if this is because I am somehow genetically unable to fully grasp the concept of time or whether I simply can't accurately judge my own capability, either wildly overestimating what I can accomplish or wildly underestimating.

In any event, I thought getting the stuff for Nature in Lit all copied and pulled together to send the reader pages off to Printing and Publications would take maybe an hour, certainly not much longer. Four hours later...

But it's ready to go. Of course, the office is closed down, so it won't actually go to P&P until Monday--and I'm praying like mad that my praise and gifts of cookies will predispose them to pull out all the stops and get the thing done in approximately a month (with time off for holidays). I'm asking a lot. I'm already planning the next gift basket and thank-you card.

And again, I'm throwing a dart at what I think will be an appropriate number of copies to make. I may be over- or under-estimating that as well: I've asked for 25 copies of the Nature in Lit reader, 40 of the reader for 102 (and I still have 16 left from this semester, so I may be way over what I need on those--unless the classes suddenly fill to capacity, as happened this semester).

Once I finished pulling everything together for P&P, I was tempted to head off: it wasn't full dark yet, and it is Friday (and it is, I must note, freezing in here)--but I decided to get just one more thing crossed off the to-do list: I wrote up the observation from last week. I am now finished with P&B business for the semester; we'll see what arises in spring.

So I didn't get to any of the noodling I thought I'd do today: no making up of grading sheets, no fiddling with the online Nature in Lit. I did add several readings to the schedule for Nature in Lit for this spring, however: as I was making copies, I found a few things I had decided I really just had to include. I am leaving out the Robinson Jeffers poems I've taught in the past, which I regret--in fact, I'm not teaching as much poetry in general as I have in the past--but I like the stuff I've included instead.

I do realize that I probably would be well served by reading over the assignments myself, not just to refamiliarize myself with things I haven't taught in a while but also to rethink the essay topics. I had contemplated a return to the mini-paper idea--but I decided against it, purely because of the work-load factor. If I had more time and energy, I'd not only assign the mini-papers, I'd have mandatory conferences for the lit students, just as I will for the 102s.

For this last round of essays for the 102s, since I didn't have much time to do anything and did want to allow students to conference with me if they wanted to, I did do more what Paul does, which is to read the essay and talk to the student at the same time, rather than marking in advance. If I do that with the conferences next semester, I'll have to reconfigure the grading significantly--but I'm going to have to reconfigure some anyway, as I realize I was assigning too many points to the mechanics review (which students didn't really understand or do very well)--and possibly not enough to the reading notes.

Of course, I would love to get a lot of next semester's stuff nailed down by the end of next week, so I don't have to scramble to get it pulled together in January, but realistically, I think I'll be swamped enough in essay grading that I won't have time for anything beyond the present moment. I'm more than a bit startled that so many students from the SF class said they want comments on their essays (and of course I wonder if they're doing it out of a conscious or maybe subconscious desire to brown nose), but that means more work for me. And I still have some old homework hanging around for the 102s. I probably should take it home for the weekend, but I'm just not gonna. Sue me.

For now, I'm going to sort of tidy up the stacks of stuff, pack my wheelie-pack for Monday, water the plants--and worry about anything else tomorrow. Or maybe not even worry about it, just do what I can. I've been here long enough for today, and tomorrow is another day. Funny how that works.

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