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Thursday, May 11, 2017

"I didn't hate coming to class."

That's one of the ringing endorsements I got from the 102 students today. I laughed (so did the other students), but I know the student who said that was pretty sincere about that being praise. I did get a better sense of what works and what doesn't in terms of particular homework assignments, should I ever teach 102 again. And as I suspected, the students in this section were much more lively and fun to do the wrap-up with than the other class. They asked some of the same questions, and I volunteered some information, but nothing too startling was revealed--by them or by me.

I had a long talk with one particular student after class. I don't know if I've mentioned her before; she's a little older than the average, and she clearly wanted to do well, but we never got much of a chance to talk one-on-one about how she might improve her work. I know she was frustrated by her grades, and we did have a long talk a few weeks ago in which I urged her to withdraw (and also talked with her generally about possible academic routes to the kind of career she's interested in). I think I did mention her: I offered her an incomplete if her final essay was a B or better, so she could re-revise her second essay and have a shot at a better final grade. Her final essay was not a B, which she already pretty much knew--but her decision was that if she could get at least a C, she'd take that instead of withdrawing. I crunched the numbers, and her grade was close enough to the points she'd need for a C that I figured she could have it--even without submitting a few assignments that she'd done but forgotten at home. (Yes, I believe that is true. I may be overly trusting and gullible, but I think I have a reasonable sense of when someone is bullshitting.) So, she gets the C, and off we go. She said she would keep in touch; she may even sign up for the SF class in the fall, though I'm not holding my breath.

I heard today from one of the students in the 5:30 102 about her missing upload to Turnitin. This is the student who otherwise is great but who has not gotten a single upload in on time (or maybe I exaggerate; maybe she got the first version uploads in on time and just missed the final ones--every time). She is at fault, since she didn't check to see whether she'd gotten the confirmation email that the upload was successful, but she was clearly furious that the upload hadn't gone through, even though she wasn't going to kick up a fuss about the result being a zero on the assignment. I told her it wouldn't be a zero; as long as she emails the essay to me tonight (since she can't upload on her own now; the settings don't allow late submissions), she'll be fine. (One student in the class I met today hadn't done his upload; same deal--thought it had gone through, didn't check for the confirmation--so I let him upload it in class today. Whatever.)

From the 5:30 102, there are still three students I haven't heard from. From Nature in Lit, three students submitted nothing--no hard copy, no upload--and one submitted the hard copy but not the upload. That last student I may give another chance to, but I talked with Cathy about it, and she strengthened my resolve: the rest get zeroes on that final essay. They were warned; I sent the email reminders; the other students did the work on time. Basta.

Backing up to the huge ratification (or not) vote today, it was a bizarre event--and of course, as much as we were hoping it would all be over except the counting of the ballots, there's now more foofaraw over the fact that the tellers committee won't count the ballots until next Thursday. What?? Where will they be stored so there is no tampering with the vote? Why weren't we given envelopes to seal? Why the delay with the counting? Poor Paul is on that committee, so he's once again in front of the firing squad. But in terms of the event itself, and any sense of the feeling in the room? Cathy and I read it very differently. While faculty were still arriving (because there are always people who are late), the tellers were keeping track of how many people were in the room: as soon as we knew we had a quorum and that the vote would count, people flocked to leave, even though speakers were still making the case for or against the change to the bylaws. Cathy assumed that all those leaving early were voting in favor of the change. I hope not; I thought people were leaving simply because their minds were made up before they got into the room and they didn't feel any need to listen to the same arguments that have been flying around in emails for the past week or so, presented by the same people, in pretty much the same wording. I would have been among those to leave, in fact, but I didn't want to be rude to the speakers, and I didn't want to join the mob by the door, so I waited until things cleared out. I ended up talking with Cathy and Kim and Sara and a few other choice colleagues; it was nice to be able to laugh a little and just talk, not about the issues.

I ended up walking to the building where my class was held with the former chair of the senate. She's wonderful. She used to be one of the faculty advisers, and we kind of got to know each other then; I've gotten to know her better since she and Paul have worked so closely together. It was good to remind each other that we can only do what we can do--trust in God and do the dishes, as they say in 12-step programs--and focus on what makes it good.

Talking with the students today reminded me of what makes it good.

And now, although it is relatively early, I am going to depart--without even sorting out stuff or figuring out what I need to pack up to take with me over the weekend. I'll be back tomorrow to help Cathy with schedules, and I assume I'll have a chance to shove stuff in a bag before I have to toddle off for my Friday afternoon life maintenance activities. I am very tired (my balance has been wonky all day, due I am sure to fatigue), and I am modestly hungry, and it will feel very good to get out of here while it is still full light. The lengthening days make it seem earlier than it is; it's after 7, though the light says to my body "It's late afternoon." But after 7 is late enough, thank you.

See you on the flip side (a vinyl album reference that the youngsters wouldn't get).

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