It did feel good to get all the homework back to the Nature in Lit students, though by the time I finished working on it, I was ready to strangle them. Class was pretty torturous, but we mostly focused on the essay we didn't get around to fully discussing on Monday, so my anticipations about the annoying feedback possible on the Nelson piece were unwarranted--and actually, even if we had talked about it more fully, I don't think I'd have gotten the kinds of responses I was concerned about.
I did tell them that for the reading due on Monday--Gary Snyder's "The Etiquette of Freedom," from The Practice of the Wild--I want them to read and annotate the text, then do their notes, but do the notes slowly and carefully: I don't care whether they get through the whole essay; I just want them to fucking pay attention. I am envisioning sitting at the desk (or, being me, more likely on the desk) and taking them through it pretty much one sentence at a time. What do the words say? No, no: what do the actual words say?
Several students are likely to come to me in the next few days to talk about improving their notes--a couple of them for the second time. I'm very happy about that: I want them to keep coming in and getting help until they start to actually understand what's required. One student is really struggling; she is set to graduate at the end of this semester, if she can pass my class--and she's an adult with daughters here at NCC, so that graduation is a profoundly significant milestone in her life. I hope she does come to talk with me, and I hope I can provide some help so she can read with more depth. The discouraging thing is that she's taking a Reading class, and she's passing it with solid A's--but she can't make more than the most general sense of the readings in my class. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I hope that between her Reading professor and me, we can get her on a better track.
I talked with Paul about her, and he helped me remember what matters: if she can write an essay that gets the forms correct, even if she's not really proving a point that matters, that's good enough for her to pass at the very least. I know she won't be happy with a grade lower than a C, but the main thing is to get her that diploma.
In terms of the essays for the 102s, I'm totally, royally screwed. I still have fourteen to mark before 5:30 tomorrow--and I can't stay here and burn the midnight oil tonight, as I have to leave for a physical therapy appointment. (Squeezing that PT into my schedule creates a real pinch.) I have to carefully do the mental calculus--and build in more time than I think I'll need (as I never estimate correctly)--but it looks like I'll be getting up at 5 a.m. tomorrow to get here early enough to whack away at the essays prior to that meeting I can't miss (at 11:30)--and since I know it's likely I'll see at least one student during my office hours, I can't rely on having the full stretch of time between classes in which to crank through remaining essays.
I almost did call in sick today; I could not get to sleep (generalized anxiety), and wasn't sleeping well even in the few hours in which I did sleep, so when the alarm went off, I decided to get back in bed and sleep until whenever and call in sick. However, I kept waking up (generalized anxiety), and I finally realized I might as well get up and get to work--even if I might be late (which, in fact, I was)--because all I could do lying there in bed was worry about the fact that I "should" be at work.
Being conscientious is a dreadful burden. Oh to be utterly blasé and have no standards!
So, between the lack of sleep last night and the fact that I'm unlikely to get a full night's rest tonight, I'm imagining I will be pretty fucking crunchy by the time I'm heading to my 5:30 class. (Never again!) And I definitely will be dragging home more essays to grade over the weekend: next up, the essays for Nature in Lit, and trying to get on top of the poetry notes for the 102s, as they have essays coming up and need their notes.
I'd say it's endless, but it does, in fact, end. May 15, I will be submitting my final grades. By Memorial Day, I'll have finished the summer scheduling with Cathy and will be like the proverbial birds (or like the sea cucumber I often use to describe my state of being over the summer months).
And for tonight, it's time to stop the natter and head off to work out those muscles and get massaged and work out the kinks. I'm looking forward to the massage part. (Maybe that should go in the next contract: massage therapy for all FT faculty?)
And tomorrow is, you guessed it, another day.