Tuesday, April 24, 2012

So Tired

I'm just feeling worn.

Today was a non-teaching day for me, but there are student presentations on campus, so I went in to be supportive, planning to have lunch with a visiting faculty member and some colleagues, and then go to presentations from 1 to 4.

Instead, just before 11 am, I got a desperate email from a colleague who's responsible for much of the organization asking me to come to a presentation since there was no one else in the room but her.  So I ran over, literally, ran.  (I'm a lousy runner, but there you go.  At least I can run across campus still.)  By the time I got there, two other people had gotten there, but I stayed.  And I tried to ask a couple good questions. 

That seemed to be my role today: trying to ask good questions.  Unfortunately, I failed at the "good" part, since most of the presentations were on 19th century lit, so I'm not as up on stuff.  So the questions I tended to ask were mostly beyond the students' experience.  I wasn't trying to be mean, but I think I seemed that way.  And since I was sometimes the only person trying to ask a question, it probably didn't feel great to the students.

Last year, I had one class do presentations in groups, and had ten groups.  It was overwhelming.  This year, I didn't do that.  I haven't figured out how to give an assignment with two options, one a presentation and one not, in a way that is about the same amount and level of work for students and which I can grade well and fairly.  But that would be ideal.

There's a bit of disagreement about the student presentation program.   No faculty member wants to take it on (and the current person is ready to be done after several years of good service).  But some people have strong ideas about how it should be run.  Unfortunately, they aren't people who've had classes do presentations (in recent years) or who attend presentations, but they have strong opinions and are very critical of what's been done of late.

After I finally got back to my office, I started printing out an assignment that students had turned in electronically.  Along the way, I noticed that about one third don't have names on the assignment.  Now, I know from the students' point of view, they know who they are and don't think everything needs a name.  But from my point of view, well, I send stuff to the printer, and then I go to the office where the printer lives and pick it all up, and I don't want to go back and have to figure out which person attached which file for the whole class.  (I won't.  I'll grade them, and ask students to claim them and put their names on when we meet next, and then I'll collect those again and record them.)

But at this point, I feel defeated by this place in all sorts of ways.  (There's all sorts of craziness coming out of the fort and capital, all of which adds to the feelings of defeat.)


  1. I have to say that those who want to quibble and snark about the current presentation program but refuse to actually work in/with the program should be treated like all those layabouts in the Little Red Hen's story. Bah! What a bunch of jerks those colleagues are.

    Sorry about all of the craziness. May tomorrow be much better!

  2. I think it's important for students to learn to give presentations, but I'm still struggling to figure out good ways of doing it. Mostly, I want students to get comfortable speaking publicly.

    Good luck with craziness. And like Janice, I think that those who have ideas should carry them out, or shut up.