So I am still sad that I don't get to take a trip to visit my friend for fall break. Like some of my readers, I never had fall break at the UC either (quarter system), but since my students are talking about taking the whole week instead of a day, I am grumpy. (If the comp kids want to take one of their absences, that's their problem and their grade. I hope, though, the lit class students keep aware that we are doing the midterm in class before break. It's not like I haven't been reviewing and reminding them for a week.)
I'm also coming up on when I scheduled student conferences. I have to have at least one set of student conferences according to the department. But I looked at the schedule, and overheard one of the adjuncts doing conferences in the break room, and then did the math of 20 minutes times 75 students ----- and ahhhhh! Oh hell no I am not doing this; I am not paid enough for that level of torment!
Therefore I've switched to group conferences (I usually do groups of 3 but I may up it to groups of 4, looking at those numbers), and I'm thinking about how short a time I can work it and still have something of use coming out of these conferences for the students. Plus I have my lit class in the middle of the day, so I'm going to have to jump back and forth between conferences and lecturing ---- and I can't do the conferences in my office since it's shared, so do I take over the break room, or commandeer a table in the library/writing center lobby? ---- and I am going to be jumpy and discombobulated and annoyed all day. Days. And I'm wondering what is my goal for these conferences even, what sort of outcome am I going to be going for?
Ok, I'm tired and mainly just thinking out loud here.
I may do a whole separate post about listening to the adjunct in the break room, who seemed nice enough, but I listened to hir do 2 or 3 individual conferences while I ate lunch, and zie seemed to have absolutely no purpose to them --- just a random chat. (Not to mention zie started telling one student all about annotated bibliographies before stopping hirzelf, realizing that was for the wrong class.) Why eat up an entire week of time doing individual conferences if all you're doing is making friendly with the student ---- if you're not even asking pointed questions about the paper or the student's writing process?
And in my MA program I had to do peer reviews and either individual or group student conferences for each paper. Bleah. Like peer reviews, I wasn't too sure about whether conferences actually worked. When students have a question or actively want to change their paper/contest their grade, they come see me --- after class, in office hours, by email --- and for the other students, it mostly consisted of me telling them the same thing I wrote on their drafts and announced in class. They either didn't take it seriously or didn't know how to translate what I said into what they have to do. Did they get much out of the conferences? Enough to outweigh the annoyance and time-suck factor for me?
I don't know. But I haven't done conferences since, until now, since I didn't think they were worth the effort --- and I'm only going to do the absolute required minimum.
What do you try to have students get out of conferences? What particular aspect of the drafts do you work on, or outcome do you expect? And what are students supposed to get out of conferences --- group or individual --- that they can't get out of class time, homework, or in-class peer review?