Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I've cancelled my writing class meetings for most of the week, and instead scheduled individual 20 minute meetings with each of my writing students to talk about their research papers, and whatever else seems useful.

Doing conferences is challenging because the research topics my students choose are all over the place, and I'm trying to help them find answers to their questions, or more often, resources to find answers to their questions (have I mentioned lately how much I love librarians?).

Students who have irritating habits in class (like chatting with their neighbors while someone else is trying to contribute to class discussion) are often really wonderful in a conference. Sometimes it seems like they disrupt class not because they're careless (which some are), but because they really want some attention, and conferencing gives them a legitimate way to get attention, so they really shine.

I like to think I give good office hour. But boy, is it time consuming!

All my students are pretty much working desperately on one or another research type paper, including in my other classes. So far, Chaucer folks are turning up in office hours to discuss their work in pleasing numbers, but I'm worried that only a few theory folks have dropped by so far. I think it's time to light a match in class or something (metaphorically, of course!)


  1. I teach a fair number of first-year students, especially in the fall & I have found that even brief conferences are a very efficient way to respond to their writing--more so than copious notes on returned essays or even drafts.

    And I get to know the students better, too.

  2. Many students just don't read the notes or understand them so conferences help. As time-consuming and draining as they are, they are "easier" than preparing for class, lecturing, etc. For me, anyway. I'm pretty good, though, at talking off the top of my head and rarely (I teach a lot of first-year composition) do they choose topics I am not somewhat knowledgeable about. THe ones who do are usually the brighter, more ambitious ones who are able to and happy to fill in my blanks. It makes them feel proud (and bathed in attention) when they teach ME something.

    In the one class I taught that had intro to theory, the students avoided talking to me about their papers and I gave out all the appropriate low grades, devastating several English majors. It seemed like they were afraid I'd call them stupid even though I told them I was no theory-head and we were learning together.

    Students never take seriously enough my "OK, you can not talk to me but don't be shocked when I fail your behind."