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Friday, August 4, 2017

Oh, argh

I have conflicting desires for what I want to do with the 101s, and it's making scheduling around the essays ridiculously complicated.

I realized that, in constructing the assignment schedule, I needed to start from when the various essay steps would be due, then fit in everything else around that. I've scrapped the preliminary essay step that I did last time I taught 101; I liked it, as it let students test-drive ideas before they got too far into their essays--but I just can't figure out how to squeeze that step in (not with time to read the essays, respond, and get them back to students) and still do conferences. And in fact, I'm not entirely sure I can do conferences, unless I really tighten up on the reading schedule--but I'm afraid students will implode if I do that. (They may implode anyway.) At the moment, I only have one class day that I can devote to conferences for each essay--if I still have them work on editing in class. I suppose I could have them do that editing step on their own. In fact, the more I think about that, the more I think it might be better to give them a clear assignment for what's required in the editing stage and let them work on that part on their own while I focus on revision--which is always a much harder concept. Or I could skip a formal editing step, though I like making sure they understand it as an important step but a separate one from revision.

Oh, Christ, it's just all such a hairball in my mind right now, I don't know how to get it sorted out. I really do want to do conferencing with them, and I want to do it for all three essays. And to do that, I need time to read and respond to essays. Doing my evaluation and commenting online does streamline the process for me, as I can get essays to students more easily (though it doesn't save any time, really, as the impulse to comment at length is too hard for me to resist). But I need to think very carefully about how to schedule the turn-around time so I don't completely lose my mind. And I think I need more time. At the moment, the schedule has me collecting essays on Mondays and starting conferences on Wednesdays--and that's just a really, really, really bad idea. I need to give myself the five days over the weekend to grade stuff. So, I have to either ditch readings, load up on what's due in any particular day, or ... something.

So, I keep moving things around--and of course, along the way, I'm making adjustments to other assignment sheets to try to make them fit with the new procedures--and the chains of things I have to keep track of get longer and longer.

I do realize that all of this is self-imposed, of course. I do all this changing of how I teach because I want to feel good about what I'm doing, to apply what I think I've learned from successes (and failures) past, so there's a better chance of students doing better work. In other words, I put myself through a lot of stress and anxiety formulating processes and procedures in order to attempt to reduce stress about the quality of the work I receive, as the frustration of reading absolute, unmitigated crap seems more painful, in the long run, than the frustration of what I'm doing right now (revamping, trying to make all the pieces still fit in the frame).

I didn't get in a lot of hours of work today, which wasn't hugely surprising. I hope that allowing things to simmer on the back burner until Sunday will lead to some clarity--or at least a potentially good idea or two. I didn't work at all yesterday (prior to my doctor's appointment, I was doing what my father called "fiddle-farting"--which has nothing to do with the horrible noises I make when I practice violin--and after the appointment, it was late enough that I didn't dare embark on more work). The one thing I did was go to the post office--and of course, since on Wednesday I had broken down and bought the damned handbook, it was delivered to the P.O. Box yesterday. (And I owe the post office a minor apology: it seems as if, this time at least, the slow delivery wasn't because they misplaced the thing but because it wasn't shipped until much later than I expected.) Still, I now have a copy of the book for here and one for the office (though it really isn't substantially different from the old one, there are some small page number adjustments).

And now it's time for me to pack my little bags and head off for my regularly scheduled Friday personal enrichment activities. I won't be checking in tomorrow but should be back posting on Sunday, good Lord willin' and all like that.

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