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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Staggering toward the finish line

So, backing up and reporting what I can remember about yesterday.

The day began with taking the Nature in Lit students to the little prairie preserve here on campus (19 acres of what used to be something like 40,000). The professor who showed us around is clearly more interested in botany than in zoology, but the students were delighted (at least briefly) by the red-winged blackbirds. I wish they'd seen the hawk I saw (probably a red-tail, but I had no field glasses with which to check). I don't know how much they got out of the event; I wish we'd had more time and that I could have turned them loose with sketch pads or journals and just had each find a spot to settle in and observe for a while--but I'm making mental notes that next time I teach the class face-to-face instead of online, I'll more specifically schedule a visit, and I may find out how many students from the online course would be able to come to campus on a Friday or something, not as a requirement but as an added opportunity.

Sunday night, I had sent an email to the head of Advisement, Amanda, asking if I could be sprung in order to work with Cathy on summer adjunct schedules. I got a reply from her yesterday morning saying that she wouldn't stop me from helping my department but that maybe next semester we could work something out so there wouldn't be so many changes to the schedule. I read the subtext, called Cathy, told her I would go to Advisement--and when I got there, I sat down to talk with Amanda about what happened this semester and what was likely to happen next. She kept saying I could go, and she was very friendly and accommodating when I explained about conferencing in the fall; all she wanted was more advance notice about changes to the regular rhythm so she could schedule the rest of her staff accordingly. Easy enough. Consider it done.

And as it happened, Cathy hadn't started on the adjunct schedules by the time I was done with Advisement; she was still making changes to fall schedules for the full-timers. (One thing Cathy is going to have to learn about being chair is to delegate. She wants to do everything, help everyone, be everywhere--and what with the energy drain brought on by anxieties about the politics on campus, she has to tend to her internal resources more carefully.) We sat down together, worked out the kinks I'd been fretting over on Friday--and I got so caught up in doing it that I was ten minutes late to meet a student up here in the office. I met with two students--and Paul was ready to wring the neck of one of them: "How many times do I have to tell you this?" I was marginally more patient, but I did say those words, just not with the "mustard" on them that Paul would have used in my place.

Then I raced to the train--only to realize I had the time wrong and was 15 minutes early. But that was fine, and Paul showed up with enough time to spare before the train arrived that I didn't quite have kittens, though I was close. Lots of transportation foul-ups made us very late for dinner, but it was great to talk with my good friends and I think it was worth it, despite how little sleep I got, despite the headache I was fighting off just before I fell asleep, despite the upset digestive system today. It's just good to be human beings together.

Today was also a good day. It took a while for a few people to show up for the seminar hours meeting at 10, but once they did, there was a very interesting conversation about how veterans' affairs are handled here on campus and how we might mentor a little more effectively. And we're setting up a cohort for students who are in a particular course usually used for students with multiple remedial placements (though it's a credit-bearing course and open to any freshman); I've volunteered to take part in that. I can't teach students at that level very well--I can't seem to conceptualize concretely enough--but talking with them in Advisement can be very rewarding, so I'd be happy to do more of that in my office, assuming we can work it out around my conference weeks.

The earlier 102 was filled with hilarity today--and filled with students who hadn't printed out a key piece of their final essays, so I sent folks off to print things out. And that just reminded me to contact the student who is in the Navy to find out where he is, where the hard copy submission for is essay is--and that reminded me to send out an email warning students not to forget the upload to Turnitin (though I will lay any odds you like that a handful will forget it, and I'll get panic-stricken emails through and after Monday from students realizing that they left that part out).

But I'm looking forward to the debriefing on the semester with that class. It was--not surprisingly--a bit of a dud in the evening class. Whatever. Two students have asked for comments on their essays. Two are getting incompletes. One should withdraw; he was in 102 with me last semester, and he fell apart again this semester. I don't want to give him an F, but if he doesn't withdraw, that's what he'll get, as he didn't have his final essay today...

And I managed to do my P&B bit on four of the Year-End Evaluations I have to mentor (out of six). One of the two remaining just needs a very quick note from me, as the faculty member in question is retiring (she didn't even need to do the evaluation, but she did it--and I'm going to be very sorry to see her go). The other didn't send me an electronic version, so once I've read over the hard copy she sent, if changes are needed, I'll ask her to make them and submit it electronically for me to do my bit. If no changes are needed, I'll just attach the relevant pages to the end of what she printed out. I hope to finish those tomorrow.

Perhaps I should finish them tonight, but I am so painfully tired, and feeling just that much unwell, that I want to get home and collapse. But I will say that one of those faculty members misspelled my first name--and I finally had to "say" something to the department, so I sent out an email about how my name is both spelled and pronounced. (Three responses so far, all supportive--and all from people who don't make the mistakes.)

God, I'm just tired. I'm going home. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200...

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