The New (next-to-last) Term

Hey! I’m sorry – I’ve not really had a second to sit still long enough to compose my thoughts about my new classes. I’m taking that time now (though I could be grading papers) not only because I want to catch you all up, but because I want to put down for myself what I’m thinking right now (I love going back in my archives and seeing how my thinking changes over time. Does anyone else do that?).

I’ve got three classes this term; two sections of public speaking and one of composition. My workload is essentially the same as it’s been since I started at TCC, but the way the classes are distributed through my week is drastically different. I teach Monday through Thursday, and that’s never happened before – I’ve always only had either a Monday/Wednesday or a Tuesday/Thursday set-up, never both. Also, none of my classes ends before 1:20 every day, so I’m having to find new ways to fit all the incidental stuff that goes on in my real life into more confined spaces of time and still be home in time for Punkin’ Pie’s bus at quarter to three. I’m not complaining, mind you; my schedule is still far less demanding than nearly everyone else’s – my husband’s, my friends’ – but it’s different for me, and there’s a learning curve there (most keenly felt in the rapidity with which I must grade student work, but that’s another post).

As far as I can tell, one class into week 2, I don’t have any serious duds in my classes; everyone seems at least mildly motivated and reasonably articulate. There aren’t any students who stand out as potential trouble on my horizon, though there are two who I suspect will offer up a healthy challenge.

One girl – we’ll call her Elena – showed up for class just yesterday. Classes started last week. She doesn’t have the book (she claims to have ordered it but has no idea when it will arrive), she seems obstinate and resistant (we had a bit of a showdown when I told her to put her laptop away), and her handwriting is atrocious. Her grade point average as of today is a 29.5. It will be interesting to see where she takes that.

I also have a former student of O’Mama‘s. Let’s call him Harvey. This young man presented my friend and colleague with a lot of frustration and some great stories when she had him in her composition class last summer, and it seems that he’s got the same in mind for me in our public speaking course. He’s profoundly quiet in class – getting him to talk is akin to … huh! I can’t come up with an apt comparison, but suffice to say that calling on this boy is more likely to result in crickets than discourse. His favorite thing to do (and O’Mama will back me up on this) is to bring his shoulders to his ears, roll his eyes heavenward, and say “tsk. I don’t know.” My response to this in the first class was an echo of California Teacher Guy‘s strategy (I LOVE my blogging colleagues! I learn so much from you all!): CTG says that it’s okay to not know, but you’ve still got to think. When I told Harvey this, he was decidedly unmoved. We stood there, staring at each other for a while, until he finally brought his shoulders to his ears, rolled his eyes, and said “I don’t KNOW” again – only this time, with a little more feeling. He bombed his class participation grade that day.

OH! I’ve another story to tell about Harvey! It happened today, even! It was the end of class, and I was at the board writing down the homework assignment for tonight and tomorrow. The students were tasked to read two chapters, do two (bullshit) assignments from the text that pertained to those chapters, and to write a response to the first two sections of Steve Jobs’s keynote address from the MacWorld conference last year (you can see them here and here). When I turned around to go over what I’d written, Harvey had the most hysterical look on his face. His jaw was on the desk, his eyebrows were up around his hairline, and he looked as though I’d just lifted my shirt and flashed my boobs at him. He was utterly shocked and outraged that I’d given “ALL THAT!” to the class.

It’s going to be a long term for this poor boy.

In other news, I’ve not yet heard back from Dean G. about the status of my protesting student. I brought all the materials that I had in to him last Friday – Betsy’s final exam, her attempt at a “research” paper, copies of homework (for a composition class, written almost entirely in sentence fragments), and the printout of her grade file from my computer and her attendance record from the attendance office. Dean G. looked it all over and determined that none of the work seemed particularly careful to him (he once noted that Betsy didn’t seem to bother to use her spell-check, even), so I’m not overly concerned that I’m going to have to issue a new grade. Still, the issue is, as far as I’m aware, anyway, unresolved. I’ll feel better when it’s settled.

The title of this post refers to the fact that Joe called me into his office the other day to tell me that there’s a better than even chance that I’ll have a job for the summer semester, but likely not after that. I’ve been really terrible about getting my CV out to other colleges in the area; my goal is to do a pretty serious carpet-bombing of local schools in the next month or so in the hopes of finding myself another teaching gig by the fall term. I’m still pretty convinced that I don’t want to look into full-time public school teaching, but I’d be thrilled to find another adjunct position come September.

So, that’s what’s been going on with me! How are YOU all doing?

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The New (next-to-last) Term

  1. I dunno, I just can’t get past the idea of you flashing your boobs at your class. I can’t stop giggling…

  2. Honestly, Michael? The kid looked remarkably like the photo – it was that blatant. I think the only other way I COULD have elicited that response would be to flash the class…

  3. Have you visited this link: http://www.nais.org

    I know you would rather stay in the college ranks, but you might find a spot at a really nice private school. Love to hear your thoughts on this. Good luck! Oh, check this article out from the Chronicle Of Higher Ed:
    http://ecarson.wordpress.com/2007/09/03/leaving-the-college-campus-for-the-elite-private-schools/

  4. I still think my WA state high school could use you. 🙂

  5. Organic Mama

    Harvey frequently made me want to bang my head against the wall in frustration and I often found myself just staring at him (our was a 6-person comp class, and we sat around a table) until he sputtered his “I don’t know…,” and then resisting the urge to ask, “WHAT do you know?” He is a very young person with very little interest in anything beyond fashion and his friends and I hope you continue to prod him until he comes up with SOMETHING.
    Watch out for his sources, however: he quoted a movie as a reference in a paper about a historical figure…

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