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Sunday, May 14, 2017

My (Freudian) slip is showing

Yesterday I spent in a state of almost total collapse; I didn't even think about getting any work done (though knowing how fickle my readers are, I nearly posted anyway--because even in a state of near collapse, I am still thinking about teaching). It was bliss, but I knew it meant that I would need to crank pretty hard today. So, as soon as I had my morning coffee in hand, I set myself up in the living room, opened my tote bag of school stuff--and realized I had very cleverly left in the office the essays on which I actually agreed to provide comments. Those are the ones that needed to be done first--and those are also the ones I am most resisting doing, because (imagine a very whiny child voice here) I don't want to work that hard any more.

I feel like my own students, complaining about how hard everything is, how unfair it is to be held responsible for, well, just about anything, really.

I probably should have worked a little longer today, and I am prepared for the fact that I'll probably have to finish my grading on Tuesday, not tomorrow as I had originally hoped, but I was starting to get pretty annoyed, and I was starting to second-guess myself at every turn, so I decided retreat was probably the best use of the trenches at this point.

Something I just noticed as an almost invariable experience: being snake-bit by an end-of-semester self-evaluation by a student who has been cheerful and friendly all semester and turns out to have been harboring resentments. Case in point out of the work I just marked, a student from the 5:30 102: I've mentioned her before as the one who is otherwise a good student but cannot seem to get her essays uploaded to Turnitin on time. As it happens, she confessed that she can't seem to keep the requirement in mind--but of course that means it's my fault for having this unfair requirement in the first place. Let's follow the logic of that again: I have a requirement. She can't remember to follow the requirement. Therefore, the requirement is unfair.

[Heavy sigh.] Yet this is constant, chronic. And despite the fact that it is constant, chronic--every semester I have at least one student who faults me for something the student is incapable of doing--I am still unduly bent out of shape about the student expressing his or her complaint. At the start of this semester, a student in Nature in Lit said in his self evaluation that he hadn't passed his literature class in the fall because he didn't remember to upload to Turnitin and that he thought that was unfair.

[Heavy sigh.]

I wish there were a way to get these students to understand the fucking idiocy of their complaints, but the best I can hope is that the "real world" will slap it into them at some point. I am less certain that that is necessarily going to happen than I used to be--as far as I can tell, a lot of people get through their entire adult lives thinking that way--but I still hold out some hope.

Rewinding a bit to yesterday, here's what I was thinking about. One of the better students in the 1:00 102 class said that he was astonished to realize that the homework grades added up to being the equivalent of an essay. He didn't quite say that was unfair, but he did seem to suggest that it was strange. I explained that the theory is, if students have to put the time and energy into the assignments, they should get appropriate credit--but I think his point was that students don't put the time and energy into the assignments, figuring they're something that can be blown off, only to realize the error when it is too late.

So I need to now decide whether to adjust the homework grades to a blow-offable proportion of the final grade or to find a way to impress on students the weight given to homework assignments. Something to think about as I start preparing for fall.

I'm already thinking about finding slightly different articles for the first essay for the 101s in the fall, as well as making other possible adjustments. And I'm already thinking that I want to work on the online Nature in Lit over the summer, as I assume I'll be teaching it in the spring, and I don't think I'll be able to work on it over the fall. Talk about looking a long way down the road, which is a recipe for tripping over something that is directly under my feet.

Now, however, I don't much care what is under my feet. I am going to sign off for today, and let tomorrow take care of itself. Because, after all, I don't have much choice about that.

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