Wednesday, September 13, 2017

some random things

* First instance of dragging grading home with me for the semester. I had a batch of quizzes from the intro class, and I had to transform the comments on the papers from another class into a numeric grade. I'm proud of myself for sitting down and getting it done, but,ugh.

Also, I forgot them this morning when I came in. Drove all the way in, looked over at the passenger seat (where I set stuff), realized, "Oh, crud, I left the papers at home" and turned around and went back to get them because PART of the reason I pushed to do them last night was so I could enter the grades today.

at least I only live a mile and a half or so from campus, but still. It was also effortful getting in because there was more traffic AND there was a couple walking down Wilson, which, granted, has no sidewalks. BUT they were walking abreast, walking slowly, and made no move to get out of the lane of traffic, so people had to swerve around them (and pray no oncoming car was barreling down the road). I met them again going back home (that's how slowly they were moving) and decided to come back up here the "back" way, which has its own challenges.

I will be very glad when they get the stupid bridge fixed and Wilson is no longer a detour. People drive too fast on it because they're not used to it and are impatient, and I fully expect there to be a wreck before this is all over. I just hope I am not involved in it.

* Also "early alert reports" were due today. This is where we fill in the "estimated" grade and number of absences for each student (because it's now our responsibility, apparently, if a student fails our class, and by pointing out they had 23 absences and knew from September they were failing, it's not so much our fault).

I give my first exam TOMORROW. So in most cases, I just filled in absences and in the comment box noted the date of the first exam as a reminder (these go to the students but also their coaches, advisors, and sometimes others).

And yes. I filled out every dad-gum one even though we're really only required to do it for athletes and students on certain scholarships. I am hoping that if advisors get overwhelmed with enough reports that contain no information, they will complain and the due date will get pushed back a couple weeks so we actually have grounds for grading. I give five exams in one class and four in my others - I can't imagine what the people who ONLY do mid-terms do.

No profession does "petty" better than academia, I think. (And yes, it's cutting off my nose, timewise, to spite my face - but also, having a couple students with **3** unexcused absences just over 3 weeks into the semester....a point needs to be made of that, I think.

* And yeah, that's what I find so exhausting about teaching right now, and if it increases a lot, it will be what drives me from academia: the constant need to monitor and report on things (I also have to do my annual-productivity report by the end of the week; not sure when I am going to get to that). And the idea that we (the faculty) are now responsible for things that, when I was a student, I was responsible for as a student - things like keeping track of my grades and such.

And yes, I get that our demographics are different from those of the Public Ivy I attended, but arguably, with our students being out in the workforce and having families and the like - well, my first impression would be "They are less gormless than the average 18 year old whose 'work' experience was either caddying at a country-club to make movie money, or someone who just learned to use a washer and dryer over the summer, lest they turn their clothes pink." I knew some pretty gormless people when I was an undergrad.

But it's not REALLY for our students; it's for the government. The stuff about reporting attendance? It's for financial aid, because people have ripped off Pell Grants and the like by taking the money and doing a runner. And yes, once again, the one dishonest person makes life a bigger effort for the honest folks (I would normally say the "90% of folks that are honest" but based on the news lately, I really wonder - one of the small towns near me has run through four interim police chiefs in the past year because the seem to keep hiring guys who turn out to have a criminal record or other disqualifying things in their past. So I don't know. I never saw myself as an unusual paragon of virtue but maybe I'm old-fashioned in more ways than my level of formality with people I don't know well)

* Though even as much as I complain about some stuff, I also recognize that this is true:

"I hope you're proud of yourself for the times you've said 'yes' when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to somebody else"

Because yeah: there have been times in my life where someone did something for me that put them out to a certain amount, but was of benefit to me.

And who knows, if getting one of those warning-reports fundamentally telling the person "I know you've been skipping, and look, your grade is suffering," and they straighten up and actually do okay and graduate and get a good job....

* One happy thing: even though I don't know yet (and don't expect much) what the bonus for the award will be, I spent it already. On this year's new Folio Society books. Because they came out with several I wanted:

 - an edition of "The Little Prince" with color illustrations and a companion commentary volume
- an edition of Saki's short stories, again with illustrations
- a history of the Celts that apparently has input from a favorite history writer of mine
- One of Rosemary Sutcliffe's "Roman Britain" books ("The Horse Lord," I think? I haven't read the Eagle of the Ninth trilogy yet but I think that will be SOON - as soon as I can push through "Moby-Dick")
- Something called "Famous Trials" or somesuch, that contains a lot of the cases that Golden Era mysteries were based on and should be interesting anyway, because the early 20th century interests me.

I also get a free book - a copy of "Spring: an Anthology" (They've been doing one of these a year; so far they have done Autumn and Winter, both of which I have. Of course next year I will do what it takes to get Summer because I am a completist)

* I worked a bit more on the sleeve of the Grasse Matinee last night, and then did a few rows more on the back of Augusta. I THINK I'm going to try using Grasse Matinee as an invigilating sweater even though I will probably have to tuck the bulk of it up under my arm (which is kind of un-ergonomic as it throws my posture off). It's a little less concentration-requiring than the sleeve decreases would be on Augusta, and I'm close to having to do those. I don't know....

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