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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

50 phone calls later...

I have covered my bases as well as possible: tomorrow is a snow day. (The forecast of 1-3 inches turned into 3-5, then 6-10, and is now 8-12.) Of course, I'm partially relieved: snow day means a morning when I do not have to set the alarm, get to campus. But part of me also feels royally screwed by the weather gods: the 102s have an essay due tomorrow. I grant you, a snow day tomorrow is a lot easier to deal with than a snow day next week would have been: rescheduling conferences would have been a bitch; I've been there before. But even so, because of the complex domino chain for progressing from first version to final, the class cancellation for tomorrow meant I had only two real options, neither of which I liked.

One option was to cancel the conferences next week and just move the submission date to Tuesday--but I think the conferences are enormously beneficial, especially with the first essay, and I'd have had to come up with a plan for Thursday, which somehow felt too challenging.

The other option--which I chose--was to deal with essays electronically. Students will still upload to Turnitin.com, but I'll download their essays, make comments on each essay file, save it as PDF, and e-mail it back. Then conferences can proceed next week as planned, as can the next steps of the process. Not only do I have to do less reconfiguring of the process; this will also be a good way for me to test drive online essay grading--which I'll want to know when it's time to do the online Nature in Lit.

The other downside to the snow day is that it significantly truncates the time I have available for reviewing promotion applications--and I'm once again woefully behind. I will have to come in on Friday, but I have a doctor's appointment in the middle of the afternoon--and the office won't be open late. I probably have to come in on Saturday as well as Friday and ask Public Safety to open the office for me.

Back to contacting the students: it would have been nice if I could have counted on them to check their campus e-mail, but of course that was a forlorn hope. So I ended up calling almost all of them. Two had already let me know they got my e-mail; one is in class with her boyfriend, so I got two students with one call. And two provided numbers that could not actually be used to contact them, one because the voice mail box has not been set up, the other because he provided the college with the wrong number.

I felt terrible about that one: I reached a clearly exasperated man who apparently has been fielding many many many calls from the college intended for this student. The gentleman I spoke to said that he was relieved to finally be able to explain the situation to an actual human being (instead of getting automated alerts--of which a number have gone out just today, regarding the canceled classes tomorrow). He was very patient, despite being annoyed, so I've sent a message to the Registrar, asking if we can at least delete the incorrect number from the student's records until I can get hold of him and tell him he needs to change his personal info.

But in the case of the students I couldn't reach, if they don't upload their essays tomorrow, the essays are late. If they operate on the wrong assumption--and don't think to check for information from me, and don't provide a phone number I can actually use to reach them--then it's their too bad. I've done all I can do to help them.

Of course, it's possible they'll be smart enough to check e-mail--or open their NCC e-mail to contact me with a question and see my announcement--but I wouldn't put any money on the odds.

(I won't get into the concern about the student who put his mother's number down for his contact information. He can't figure out how to upload his essay, either--and probably doesn't know how to check his NCC e-mail. He's a sweet, earnest kid, clearly out of his depth, and clearly being "helped" by parents who want the best for their child but are not giving him a realistic sense of what he'll need to do to make it in this world. My heart goes out to all of them, but still.)

In any event, pretty soon here, I'm going to pack up whatever I can take home with me to work on either tomorrow (in between bouts of shoveling) or over the weekend--and I'll deal with promotion applications and all that other stuff when I can get back to campus. It's going to be a relatively fierce push to get me through next Thursday, but then I really do get that week away from campus--and I am looking forward to that more than I can express.

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