I gave a midterm today in one course (students seemed to be feeling good about it as they left, which gives me hope that they showed how much they learned and it's a lot). The other class I cancelled.
Only about half the people showed up for the Thursday meeting, and about half of those who were there said they weren't coming today. And I just don't see the point of trying to do a ton of pre-writing stuff for a project with only a handful of the people who need it.
I'm continually surprised by how many people around here (students, neighbors) go on big trips for spring break, taking their kids out of school, missing classes at NWU, whatever. I don't remember anyone much doing that when I was in college. And then there's the opposite effect, of course, the students whose big plan is to work extra hours, or the campus coffee shop workers who have an enforced and unpaid "break" that makes paying the bills difficult.
I was supposed to turn in book orders on Monday. I did most of them today. I emailed the department colleague who's chairing the committee that's responsible for guest speakers and stuff asking who's coming next fall. He had no idea, but suggested I ask one of the community folks who works with the community group that puts on a lit festival. The community person said they'd lined up two people already.
Here's the thing: I'm teaching an intro to poetry course, and would like to use a book by a contemporary poet in addition to the anthology. And as long as I'm thinking that, it would be good to use one by someone who's going to read in the area, because that would be great to offer students as an activity.
But. The two people lined up for the community thing both write poetry that sounds pretty alike: yay rural life and the northwoods! It's a romantic, uncritical approach, the sort of approach that's popular up here. It's also all free verse all the time. Both are good as far as what they do, it seems. I read some poems by each this afternoon, and was uninspired. Why can't John Donne be local and alive? Or how about Amelia Lanyer? Or Edna St. Vincent Millay?
I'm thinking instead of ordering a friend's book, which is really good, and thoughtful, and smart. And my friend is still alive. And maybe, just maybe, I could get her to skype with us? (Off to email my friend about that!)