Well, this sucks. After a very nice relaxing weekend doing nothing teaching-related, I pretty much wasted away today. I took all day doing my required benefits counseling meeting and doing some, but not much, class prep. I have many things to do, all of which require Unpleasant Confrontations, like email people "no" about their topic proposals and respond to angry comments about the last essay grade and resolve a weird grading problem. So I am ignoring them. But, I am now mucho stressed out and have undone all my previous weekend relaxation. It is a bad sign when your week hasn't really started yet and you are longing for the next weekend. Ugh.
I would cancel and move things around this week to do individual conferences if it were at all possible, since we are at the weird point of the writing process, but I had to schedule half of our library introduction on one day of the week and half on the other day. Theoretically, it is nice, because we can do a nice small research stint and then bring in the results --- like an article or some newspaper articles --- in on the second day as a homework assignment. But, practically, it is a week that doesn't have a whole lot for them to do that is directly relevant for their next step in the assignment process. Really, they need to just go off into the library and just do it. But since I have an hour with them beforehand I am doing a little lecture and some worksheets. Ugh. Meh.
Have any of you taught comp from Writing from Sources? I really like it --- especially since it drums quotation formatting down into the ground and the students here really need that --- but the research chapters need fixing: they have these incredibly long and multi-paged detailed exercises, and if you don't want to do all of the exercises you end up assigning 40-page chapters and then asking the students to hunt and peck among these long sample articles for the actual explanations sprinkled throughout. Not that that early morning class is cracking the book, I'm sure. Anyway, those exercises are sooooo reading-heavy (the wikipedia one has 12 pages of source material to read) that they don't work very well in class, and I don't want to assign them as the actual essay because then I would be reading the same damn essay like 90 times, so I have trouble with the class time leading up to the annotated bibliography.We will go over citation and plagiarism and do some worksheets, which I avoid the rest of the semester since it feels very high school/lower-level thinking schools, and also I generally have worse behavior and resistance when I make them do worksheets than when I make them do unusual or creative critical thinking type projects.
Today I also had lunch with some of the other instructors, and I like them and certainly I was glad to hear them complaining about a really bad batch of papers and suddenly they have had to resort to giving Ds and Fs, but also they make me worried. They still have 29 or 30 students in each of their classes --- why have mine dropped so much? They say their students come to class "most of the time" but I am unclear what exactly that means --- are those students still handing in the major essays? Even if I don't count the students with erratic attendance, I have a handful or two that are missing essays ---- which is grounds for an F in my class and I believe dept. policy. Also, have they figured out some way to not have their students be hostile and misbehaved, or do they just not ever mention that in their complaints? And they reassured me that we all think we end up in a grading bubble and worry that we are not in tune with our colleagues, but really we pretty much are ---- but what if that's not true? I think I'm just as worried as I was before I ate with them and let off steam.
I am now officially freaking out about my upcoming tenure committee review meeting. Cue chewing on nails and ulcers gnawing on my gut.