Today was the last day to withdraw from courses for the spring semester. As I usually do, I had a conversation with my students about what it means to withdraw from a class: what it can do to (or for) their GPA, how it can affect their financial aid, what it might mean when it’s time to transfer.
However, this time, I did something a little different. I reminded them that getting a D isn’t the end of the world (they will get elective credit, but not gen ed credit). But I also told them that there’s value in staying in the class even if they are pretty sure they are not getting a C–or maybe not even a D–because they’ll be practicing the skills they’ll need when/if they have to retake the course.
I have at least three students who I know probably are sticking it out because I said that, which is, I think, a good thing.
On Tuesday, in my comp 2 course, I was putting in a plug for my fall creative writing course, and one of my students asked me if I preferred teaching creative writing to comp. And I told him, quite honestly, no. Creative writing is fun to teach because most of it is completion based, but the classes are very different. The part I hate about teaching comp, I told them, is the grading.
Anyway, they understood that. I also pointed out that for every paper they write, I’m usually grading 60-80 of them. So.
Then, one of my students came in late, and he looked a little…let’s say out of it.
Me, joking: Are you sleepy or high?
Him, completely serious: Oh no I’m not high. I’m sober four days.
Me, now completely serious: Oh good.
Dual-enrolled student: Wait, I thought sober was just for drinking.
Other student: Oh sweet, innocent, baby [classmate]. She’s so sweet. I love it.
The rest of the class then had a good laugh at the innocence of the high school student. She really is a sweetheart.
In my comp class today, the plan was to finish watching Mulan to prepare my students for their definition argument paper. So imagine my surprise when I get to the classroom and see that they have CHANGED THE COMPUTER. And? There is no longer a tower!
Luckily, a CD/DVD drive was on the now tower-less computer, but it took me a minute to find it. Then, I had to figure out how to start the DVD since, of course, it didn’t autoplay nor would it load in Windows Media Player. The good news is that I had been down that road before in another classroom so knew to look for the VLC player, which was actually there and working.
So, we got to finish the movie, and I got to assign the paper. Whew. Because I really did not have an alternative if the classroom technology wasn’t working. Especially since Mulan is no longer on Netflix, so it’s not like I could have used that option either.
But now I’m wondering if that means I should carry my portable DVD drive with me JUST IN CASE whenever I plan to show a movie in class. I mean.
Yesterday, I put this prompt up on the board for my creative writing students:
Write a scene in which a character standing in an open courtyard filled with people she (or he) knows finds out s/he’s been stabbed in the back by his/her best friend.
After they asked, I told them the open courtyard could be any super public place and the backstabbing could be figurative or literal.
When time was up, I asked how many of them got my literary reference. Two hands went up, but then one student admitted that she only got it after the other student explained it.
So, only one student got the literary reference. One!
Then, I asked if any of them knew what the day was, and a student said, “The Ides of March.”
And I said, “That’s right! The Ides of March!”
And then I showed them the following memes/gifs:
No pie for me yesterday, alas. The pie crust I had in the refrigerator was no good, and I was not going to the store.
So, a couple of interesting things happened yesterday.
1. All but five of my students in my comp class DID NOT do the reading. Now, I know it was the first class session after break (on TUESDAY mind you), but ugh. It makes me so angry when that happens. Especially since the reading and homework were all I had planned to discuss for the day.
This has happened once before, so I did what I did then: I made the students who didn’t do the reading stay in the classroom and write an essay on why they needed to come prepared to class. Then, I took the handful of students that did the reading out into the common area and held class with them.
When I got back to the classroom, I collected the essays and threw them in the trash. (Yes, in front of the students.)
In retrospect, I’m a kinder person now then I was the first time so I think I could have handled it differently. Namely, I would have had them read the essay and finish the homework. The instruction time was lost, but I still could have caught them up.
I mean, giving them an opportunity to see how it feels to waste class time is still a badass move, but it’s not in line with my goals as an instructor.
Oh well. Maybe next time.
2. I was supposed to meet with one of my ministers, but he stood me up. After waiting twenty minutes, he finally contacted me after he realized he completely spaced on our appointment. Later that day, though, I ran into him at the gym. (Small town living, am I right?) Anyway, we then held an impromptu meeting in the swimming pool during my water aerobics class since we were both there and had the time.
Busy people: we take the time where we can find it.
Anyway, next time, I think I’ll remind someone I’m on my way before an appointment, so they can either be where they’re supposed to be or let me know if things have changed.
Today is Pi(e) Day, so I suggested to my daughter that I make a pie to celebrate. She suggested an apple pie, I suggested a cinnamon pie, and we agreed that a chicken pot pie (or even a pot pie made with leftover ribs) would be best. Aw, compromise.
Did I make the pot pie? Well, I don’t know yet. This will post right after midnight, so who knows what the day will bring.
Anyway, this day, man. I went back to work, which was fine. As I was finishing up grading, I discovered that none of my students (NOT ONE) got an A or even a B+ on the last paper, so I am going to have them rewrite it since they really won’t be able to move forward if they can’t master those skills.
I also learned that the more ominous I sound before I pass the papers back, the happier the students will be with their grades. One student was so relieved she got a 70 because she had prepared herself for a “50 or something” because of my warning. Of course, that only works when people actually pass the paper, so I’ll see if that holds true tomorrow (er, today–midnight, you know).
So, yes, work was fine.
However, the big drama of my day is that it rained ALL DAY, which ruined my plans to grill some ribs. I had to oven roast them instead. I mean, they turned out fine (delicious even), but oven roasted is just not the same as grilled.
It’s Friday night, and I spent most of it grading as I usually do.
Because of course I didn’t manage to grade more than a paper or two during the week.
I only met with my students once last week, so this week is the full grind. A miracle occurred today, though! I didn’t bring any work home. The key seems to be going back to my office to do work instead of leaving immediately after class. Imagine that.
The rest of last week is a blur, for sure. All that course prep makes my brain go to mush. Oh, and I forgot to post this e-card a friend sent me when I was complaining about course prep last week, so here it is now:
Now that I’m back, of course, I’m fine (and even in the zone). But, man, that prep week is whoa.
Time for another link round-up! Here are some interesting things I read this week:
Zetta Elliot has a comprehensive list of 2016 MG & YA titles by African-Americans.
I posted this to Facebook after it was clear where the election was headed (@ 2:06 a.m.):
I have been trying to sleep since 10:30 and can’t.
All I can think about is how over 400 years, this country has used and abused us and made it clear over and over how much they hate us. And over 400 years we haven’t let them take our humanity or our souls. And how we have so much now that our ancestors couldn’t even begin to wish and hope for. And what it must have been like for them to see this same abuse, this same denial of their humanity denied over and over and over again.
I am living that latter experience in a very real way. But I feel good knowing that I did what they couldn’t and wanted to do, which was vote. And I feel good about the candidate I voted for.