Thursday, September 19, 2013

Oy, my Bad News Bears

People, I am tired. It doesn't help that I had to take my cat in to the vet last night, since he had licked himself raw and bloody in one spot, and that I have been getting up so early to be ready for class that I have to go to bed super early like I am an old fart (temperamentally I am a night owl, which makes this schedule worse).

On top of all this, I have finally started my crash course. One of my second-level comp classes didn't fill, so they cancelled it. They have a setup here where they run late starting classes in the middle of the semester to "capture" students who they might have ordinarily lost to waitlists and such, and the class runs on a condensed schedule much like a summer session class would. This means I had a light and enviable start to my first semester here, what with no committee work and only 3 classes, 2 of which are the same prep. But. Oh my, having another class start right about when I get the first batch of essays from all my other classes --- that, my friends, is cruelty.

Suddenly my schedule has gone from awesome to a huge block of empty time followed by a late afternoon class. And going from the end of essay sequence 1 back to introductions and beginnings is just confusing me. To say nothing of the fact that my first semester classes are all on one schedule and the comp/lit intro class is on a different set of days, so suddenly putting another first semester class on the lit days confuses the hell out of me. What day is it? When do we next meet? Did I update that on the powerpoint from the first time I taught this lesson? Beats the fuck out of me.

In addition to the load and the schedule and the confusion ---- look, seriously people, what sort of students do you think you "capture" when you capture all the students who were not able to enroll in time to get the classes they need? (I think it is interesting that they talk all about helping and assisting students in admin, yet they use this phrase which sounds like it is all about capturing revenue.) We will see how many of my students survive to the end of the semester. I found it telling that several of them did not bring any pens or pencil or paper to the first class because they hadn't gotten their financial aid straightened out yet or done their school shopping yet. You have no pens at all in your house? You look about the age of someone who has just gotten out of high school?? What did you write with/on back in the spring???

Besides the people who seem to have very poor life coping skills and/or chaotic home lives ---- I am dealing already with interesting phone calls and absences and people leaving in the middle of class randomly to meet someone for carpooling ---- and in addition to the people who are terrified of school in general or writing in particular and have already told me about it ---- and in addition to the much older students who are not sure this class will have any relevance to them whatsoever ---- I have several people who I am pretty sure are Adaptive Life Skills students who have somehow managed to pass out of, or be passed along through, the developmental writing class below this one. I am not sure how well I will deal with this. I am not a patient person. (How the hell did I get hired at a community college? I don't even know!) I do not deal well with being patient with people who do not have the cognitive ability to learn and improve. Again, back to telling signs: it is significant that almost nobody could follow the directions correctly to make my name cards ---- name cards that my other comp classes were just fine with making ---- but some of these students seemed to have conceptual trouble even grasping the idea of name cards and filling out this form.  I don't have this level of patience. I do not work well with this population.

But on a lighter note, the other really noticeable trait about this class is the sheer number of Celebrity Lookalikes. There's Redhead Carey Elwes and Young Eddie Vedder, Breaking Bad Skinny Dude and Grad School Subject Librarian (who doesn't act at all like my friend from grad school but looks just like her! Although, not a celebrity, I guess), Michael Cera With a Buzz Cut and Kathleen-Turner-in-her-Virgin-Suicides-Phase-Not-Body-Heat-Phase (just looked her up) and, of course, It's Unfortunate That You Look As Much Like Garrison Keillor As You Do. All of them look so much like their lookalikes that I could stumble and stare a bit as  I made the connection, and now, of course, I have their "other" names stuck so firmly in my mind I'm afraid I will call somebody by their descriptor name rather than their actual given name. Although, if they can't write their damn name on the side of the namecard labeled "front," is it really my fault anyway?


Fretful Porpentine said...

Holy HELL that sounds painful. (I don't work well with that population of students either, even after seven semesters of teaching Basic Comp, and I feel terribly guilty for not working well with them, but I can't change my personality.)

Bardiac said...

That's a difficult population for so many reasons! It's like the school is setting them up to fail, too.

I hope things work out for you.

Dr. Koshary said...

Oy is right. Silver lining: lots of hilarious absurdities to blog about!

Also, I laughed far harder in my office than is normal for a professor on a Friday afternoon at the images of your Kathleen Turner and Garrison Keillor doppelgangers.