Friday, October 26, 2007

Midway Through

This week marks the half point of the term, a time to finish up tasks and get ready for the tasks ahead, a time to rethink how things are going and make some changes.

I've been sort of fretting and putting off asking a friend a huge favor, keeping an eye on the homestead while I'm gone. But I need someone with common sense to handle things, just in case, and my friend has an abundance of good sense mixed with solid ethics and smarts. And, happily, also generosity. I shouldn't have fretted, because my friend was as she is, and will take care of things. It's a weight off my shoulders.

My writing class pleases me immensely these days. By and large, they have great personality and chemistry; they're engaged and interested, and most of them seem to care about their education. They don't seem much worried about being cool (in the detached, I just couldn't care less, don't hassle me sense), which of course makes them cool in the nerdy educational sense. I look forward to going to class with them, and that's not something I feel about writing classes every semester.

They're also making strides in their writing. Most have markedly improved in organizating their work and developing their points with good support. Most have improved in giving better feedback for their peers' writing.

I've had some really good office hours this past week. A student came in to talk over her application letter; I find it very rewarding when I can talk with a student about writing application letters and help them articulate how their education has prepared them for writing and giving presentations, for doing analysis, organizing and working with teams, and so forth. I feel that when I can get them to think about the skills they've developed and talk about those in their application letter, then they realize they aren't an English major, but an educated, skilled person with an English major. She said she'd run over to tell me if she gets the position.

One of my advisees came in to talk about changing majors. Sadly, that means she won't be my advisee anymore. Happily, it means we've done a really good job working together to plan her education, because she's well prepared to do the major she wants, has developed good organization and planning skills. And she promised to stop by and chat even though she won't be my advisee.

One of my students came in to talk to me about a course grade so far. It's one of those cases where a really good student is stressing. We worked through the math, and now he can put his energies to continuing the good class efforts and not to worrying. Sometimes meetings like that seem petty, and I wonder why the student--demonstrably capable intellectually--can't put things together for him/herself. But sometimes I realize that they're really important opportunities to tell a student that they're on a good path and give him/her some personal encouragement. We all need that, right? And when you're 18, away from home, engaging in a lot of growth, well, having an adult give you positive feedback might be just what you need at the midpoint of the term.

So at the midpoint, then, things are going pretty well. I'm in good grading shape, with a small set of things to grade over the weekend, and a reasonable load ahead. In the classes with new material, I've taught the bulk of the new material (new book and essay assignment in the writing class, new plays in my early modern class, new text in my grad class) and am looking forward to the projects we're working on next. I have some hours of prep this weekend for my library presentation, but that should be enjoyable, rewarding work. And I have a boatload of committee work to take care of, information to master to help make some important decisions.

And just maybe, if the weather's decent, my bike will take me out for some fun, too!


  1. Anonymous2:15 AM

    That's actually nice, at a small school. If I had had someone like that, I probably would have ended up in lit. But all we got were angry TAs who resented us and were into some ridiculously narrow field of interest. Though I considered Comp Lit as a major and took a ton of classes for it, I cannot name one Professor in the department.

    Where are you going? Or is that classified?


  2. Anonymous, I'm sorry you didn't have a better experience. I think all students deserve opportunities for a good academic experience.

    I'm going to Asia!