I am not yet done with this semester, but I'm getting close. I might be at the exact crappiest point: I am finishing up the research paper grading and handing them back in the final.
I already had to deal with one class ---- the college writing class, which is "off schedule" this semester and thus has everyone who failed it last semester or took the remedial class right before it ----- today and I eventually decided that a lot of those borderline papers were in fact, not passing quality. A LOT. As in I only passed a couple of the students in that class. It was really shitty to sit there and watch them hyperventilate about writing this in-class essay (though if they can't respond with the standard 5-paragraph in class essay blorp within 2 hours, that is yet another sign that they probably should take the course again, eh) all the while I had on my lap this huge stack of D and F papers and had already told them they would not be allowed to pass the class without passing the research paper. Then I got to hand these back to them and look at them while they turned in the essay. I felt really awful. And yet, I couldn't bear to pass those essays.
Hmmm maybe my problem is the confrontation not the evil grading. Maybe I should switch over to online grading and send back the final papers via turnitin or moodle. Or not return them at all? I already have the intro to literature/writing class turn their big papers in at the final; maybe I should switch it around so that I am handing back those and getting the college writing research papers during the final? Interestingly, I am not at all worried about my intro to lit classes this semester ---- which is the normal semester to take it if you passed college writing. And even more interestingly, my "weird" class last semester, where I could not get them to understand the concept of buying the book or reading or doing the homework, was the second-semester class i.e. we were "off schedule."
Perhaps the solution is to just expect that everyone will fail in these off schedule classes and not worry about it. I did get better about not caring about the students who stopped showing up, and not taking their absences personally. But there is still the problem of the few who try soooo hard and just don't improve enough (or are making up a huge deficit) who then look at me with big anxious puppy eyes trying to read my expression before taking the research paper from my hand! Arrrgh! It sucks!
See? Evil enough to dish it out but not live with the consequences. What I really need is some sort of magic bullet that will make students learn things, and work hard, and care...