Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello folks! Anyone still there? Sorry for the radio silence. And sorry for when I break radio silence it's been to rant lately. Or complain about yet another illness. Needless to say, I'm glad to put this quarter to rest. Although, while I am glad that the quarter is over, I am beginning to miss semesters. Truly. Mostly because I want/need more than two weeks for winter break. But anyway.

So there's some unbloggable stuff going on here, too, which is part of the reason for the radio silence because I know myself, and I have a hard time not keeping my mouth shut, so it's best for me to not put myself in a position where I might say something I should not.

Aside from all the illnesses, I think this quarter has been a decent one. I'm glad to be putting it to bed though and excited for the coming quarter, both in terms of my schedule and what I'm teaching and with renewed energy, at least right now, for some research projects. Our panel for this conference got accepted, so I'm totally freaking and completely geeked about that! I can't freaking wait for that one!

I'm already looking forward for Christmas/Winter break though in having some time during the day while the husband is at work to work on some organizing and cleaning, to spend some time baking and cooking and experimenting with some new recipes, to try to get some stuff sold on the local on-line "garage sale," and read. While I know both of our families are disappointed that we're not going to spend the entire two weeks traveling from place to another (and seriously when has anyone come to see US during the holidays? why hasn't anyone? To quote my sister, "do you know what a hassle that is?" Yes, yes we do, but apparently that hassle doesn't matter if it doesn't affect anyone else, but anyway...), I'm glad to be staying put for another Christmas. And while it would be nice if the J did have two weeks off, too, I'm sort of glad for the time during the days to myself so that I can read and work and try to get stuff done. If he were around, we'd end up watching movies and going to the movies and not getting anything around the house accomplished, which is fine, but there are things that need to be done for once and for all over break. At least I have a real shot of getting things done. What I need to do is make a to do list of all that needs to be accomplished so I can stay on track. The goal is to spend week one doing the house stuff and week two relaxing. We'll see how that works out.

We're in Home City right now for another day or two. The husband gave me the choice of Thanksgiving or Christmas travel, and I chose Thanksgiving a) because I want my two weeks to myself without travel, and b) there's less of a chance of us getting snowed in and stuck during Thanksgiving here than Christmas, and as I mentioned, I really just like staying put during Christmas (especially since I don't get five weeks of break anymore).

I hope everyone has had a nice and relaxing Thanksgiving break, and for those of you on semesters, I hope the remainder of the semester goes smoothly for you when you get back. We start all over again on Wednesday, so I'm hoping for a smooth Winter quarter in these parts.

Have a good weekend all!

Friday, November 16, 2012

A bit of the end of the quarter rant.

I thought I had a really good novel class this quarter...until I got the final essays. So disappointing. The frustrating thing is that I know that these students can do better because they have done better in my class.

I think I might have made a couple of mistakes this time around. One, I moved the proposal date for the papers back a few weeks to give them more time to read a larger amount of works. Second, I dropped the minimum requirement from 12-15 to 10-12 pages.

what did I get?

One 3.5 page paper. Two 9 page papers. One 7 page paper. One zero page paper. Out of 12 students. Almost half of the class decided that they did not need to meet the bare minimum requirements. And like seriously, can you be an English major in a 400 level class and NOT be able to write AT LEAST 10 measly pages? Furthermore, I know these students know how to write research papers. I think I got three actual, for true, essays that would qualify as research essays. The other nine were "This is what I think. Close reading. Part of a quote by someone. Then this happens in the novel." Some didn't bother to cite the work. How do you get to a 400 level class and not do parenthetical citations for a research paper?

And when I ask for 5-7 annotations, including the primary text, I don't mean four annotations and no primary text. I don't mean two annotations.

This is what happens when you adjust the requirements. You get shitty work.

Even though the next two quarters are gong to be busy and a bit stressful and full of lots of stuff, not to mention two new upper division preps, one of which is so far out of my comfort zone, I may as well be teaching math*,  I need to make sure that while it might suck to have a limited amount of texts to write on (one thing that sucks about the quarter system), the proposal needs to be done at midterm, and they will be writing a 12-15 page paper.

Email from the student who turned in a 7 page paper: "I was wondering why my grade was so low in your class. I thought I was doing well. Was it my final paper? Did it bring it down?"

Me: Yes, you failed to meet the minimum requirements for the final paper. It's 25% of your grade, so yes, it did bring it down.

Email from student who didn't turn in a paper: "I didn't turn in my paper because it wasn't done. I was hoping to turn it in today, but you've already done grades. It's been a tough quarter. Any way you could give me an incomplete?"

Me: I have until Monday to fix the grades. You're paper will be docked 10% every day it's late.

Really? It was due yesterday. You didn't bother to talk to me. You just assume I have nothing better to do than to sit around and wait to do grades while I wait for your paper. Meh.

I'm a little bit angry. I expect more out of my majors.

In other news... I've gotten my first entitled football player. I've been pretty lucky all these years. But this kid...
Stu: Are my absences for my surgery going to affect me grade?
Me: Nope. But the other absences you have around the surgery are going to affect your grade.
Stu: Yeah, but the surgery is excused.
Me: The only thing an excused absence does is allow you to make up an exam or an essay.
Stu: Well I didn't know that.
Me: I went over it on the first day. It's in the syllabus.
Stu: I guess I missed that part. Is my grade affected?
Me: You get four absences before you lose points. You have five. You were out for 3 for your surgery and then you took two other days.
Stu: Yeah, but I didn't know that the surgery was going to take three days when I missed the other two.
Me: And??
Stu: It's not fair that I'm going to be penalized for that. I wasn't planning on missing three days.
Me: I don't know what to tell you.
Stu: So now I'm going to get a D.
Me: Are your grades that bad?
Stu: Well, can I turn in some late work because I have that D on one assignment and I wasn't planning on having my grade lowered for absences, so I didn't do a fourth assignment to make up for it.
Me: Nope.
Stu: So what??
Me: I guess you just learned a valuable lesson in planning.

Also, seriously, how hard is it to follow directions. Essay question: "Define X in your own words. Use two texts from X unit to support your definition."

What did I get? A paper on how Poe is actually a turn of the 19th century writer. (Someone's been watching Anonymous for "ground breaking" ideas). And another arguing that O'Connor was actually a contemporary of Twain. Really? Perhaps you should show up to class every once in a while and you might realize how these arguments are ridiculous.

I've have some good quarters. This was a disappointing one as far as most of my students go. Perhaps it's because I've been sick off and on most of the quarter. Maybe some of this is more my fault because I haven't been up on my game. But still, it seems like many just phoned it in.

Maybe it's the sophomore slump.

*it's either teach this class that's out of my zone but upper division and gets me a better schedule, or I end up teaching Spring comp which is historically full of students who failed or made a D comp in the fall and winter and get a bad schedule. I'll opt for upper division new prep and better schedule than a bad comp class.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nothing Exciting Here.

Wow, it's been a while it feels like since I've posted. Last week? Longer?

The Pedialyte is helping with the dehydration. And for someone who drinks a lot of water, it seems weird to me that I'm not drinking enough. The J even bought me Pedialyte freezie pops (he usually gets them for me when I have the flu). Look, forget Gatorade or Powerade or anything else like that. Pedialyte is what you want when you're a) sick, b) dehydrated, or c) when it's a million degrees out.

My eyeglasses that I ordered are still in customs hell. Did I tell you they were going to replace them--the company--just make me a new pair, and resend them and then if I ever got the other ones to send them back. My frames are now out of stock. I had to pick an alternate. I was PISSED! I got them yesterday. Turns out they might be the cutest best pair of glasses I've ever had. They may be better than the original pair I picked out. I'm still waiting on all my refunds to go through, but now it makes it hard to hate the company like I should because it's just been one thing after another for the month it's taken me to get my glasses (and not even the right pair), but my glasses are perfect. And I look absolutely, positively adorable in them. And I never ever think I look adorable. And I know I do, because I have never gotten so many "likes" or comments on any picture of myself I've ever posted on FB, and that includes my wedding pictures. These are keepers. And I did seriously need the ego boost yesterday afternoon.

The quarter is almost over. I only have two actual teaching days left. I still have six days of class left, but the survey class is basically done. We're finishing up the movie tomorrow. On Monday they have their group review for extra credit, and then Wednesday is the in-class final. In the novel class, we talk about the book today and Tuesday, and then next Thursday we're watching the silent film adaptation of the novel with which we're finishing. However, while the teaching is light, this doesn't mean that the grading is. The grading is on now. Yesterday the last of the lit analyses came in for the survey class. Tomorrow, take home finals should start coming in (I offer them extra credit to turn it in the Friday before it's due because it works out better for me*). Monday is when the exam is due. Tuesday the novel class turns in their last critical analysis. Wednesday is the in-class final for the survey class, and then Thursday, finally, the novel class turns in their research papers. I do feel like the majority of this can be knocked out during my office hours, thus eliminating the need to bring much of this home with me. I've been very good this quarter about limiting my grading to my office hours. It works out better for my stress level. And then, we get to go out of town. It will be nice to get out of town for a week. I can't wait.

Anyway, so that's it. Nothing exciting happening in these parts. And I guess I should go get ready for my workout. Have a great day folks!

*why not just make it due Friday rather than Monday if it works out better to grade over the weekend you might ask? Because not everyone takes advantage of the early turn in, so it means that I roughly get about half of them, and it's less stressful to think about grading 30 exams on a Friday afternoon and Saturday morning than to think about grading 60 of them. It works for me.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

One day, this quarter will be over and I will get some rest

I am, I believe now, officially behind on grading. I've had the novel class's critical analyses for over a week now.

And I took the week off again in the afternoons.

I appear to be getting lazy.

No, I'll cut myself some more slack than that. I had no idea that consistent dehydration would have this kind of impact on my body--the tiredness. I even bought some pedialyte, which seems to have helped, but still.

Anyway, this quarter, when I come home from class, I crash. I don't know what's going on in my immune system that whatever I got in September still lingers. There have been tests run. I have no infection or other things that might cause exhaustion or sickness other than dehydration. And there's nothing wrong with my kidneys either. So even though I think I drink a lot of water, perhaps I actually don't drink as much as I think I do since I keep the house cool. I've had to cut back on the caffeine and alcohol, so whatever. If I'm all dried out, I'm going to get wrinkles. Yes, this is a primary concern. However, no one seems to be worried about this issue, that is a symptom of something more serious. I've just been told to drink more water, and it seems to be up to me to decide if I need to go back to the doctor. So there you have it.

Honestly, I think I just need Thanksgiving Break. We get almost two weeks, and I intend to be done with ALL of my grading except the novel class's essays by the last day of classes so that I can enjoy the entire two weeks. I pick up the novel class's essays that day. Fortunately, there are only 12 of them in the class. My plan of attack is to grade them while I wait for the J to get home (we're going to my aunt and uncle's for the pre-Thanksgiving dinner), and then knock out the rest of them in an hour or two on Friday. If I have to spend another hour on Saturday, so be it, but I don't think it will take an obnoxious amount of time to get through these. I hope. I'm not doing what I did last Fall quarter and having a marathon grading session the day grades are due. No siree!

Anyway, that's what I need. about 12 days or so of not getting up at 4:30 or 5:00 with the J--I'm up now because it's drill weekend. And when it's J's drill weekend, it may as well be drill weekend for me, too. When he gets up at 5 on a Saturday, I'm up at five. I can't go back to sleep. It fucking sucks because I really need to sleep in. And tomorrow is Daylight Savings, and I NEED that extra hour; I need all the sleeping in I can get on the weekends, but nope. Now I'm cranky just thinking about it.

We are going out of town for Thanksgiving. We'll go to my aunt's, come home, pick up the mutts and then head to Home City. I wasn't sure I wanted to travel during Thanksgiving, but if we didn't, then the J would be working, and that means I'd get no sleep during break either. And that means I'd be totally exhausted by Christmas, and that was his second choice to travel, and I don't want to travel during Christmas really (although I might get a white Christmas in Home City and it might feel more like Christmas there), but whatever. The J will still be working, so I won't get much sleeping in, but maybe I'll be able to go back to sleep if he's really quiet.

So that's it. I've got two more weeks of class left. We're watching a film on Wednesday and Friday in the lit class, so Monday is my only teaching day left for that. Next week is final review and then the final. We have one novel left in the novel class. And on the final day of class we're watching the film adaptation of that novel, so I've really got four actual teaching days left in the next two weeks. I can make this. I feel like I should start to feel better soon.

And on that note, I'll grab another cup of decaf and read or something or clean. I have peoples coming over tonight. Happy Saturday all!