Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kids these days...

I saw some obnoxious student behavior the other day. During class, the student was half paying attention to the instructor, instead using the computer to check e-mail, check Facebook, and check other assorted web sites. This student was not only being rude to the instructor, but she was also distracting her fellow classmates.

I should know; I was her classmate, and I deliberately moved seats away from the ADD-inducing screen rotation to my left. Tomorrow is the last day of a workshop I've been attending to familiarize faculty with the online class platform. Yes, in this case, the faculty were students. While the aforementioned behavior would be unsurprising in a classroom of college freshmen, I found it more than a little ironic in this scenario. I wonder how that instructor, should she have the misfortune to find herself teaching in a computer classroom, would treat that behavior from a student? Hmm...

Now playing: Okkervil River - A Glow
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 22, 2009


Until relatively recently, I had a mental image of book clubs that was, shall we say, stereotypical and unflattering. I pictured a book club as an Oprah-esque meeting where a bunch of women sat around and expressed their feelings as they related to a certain book. In between all that, they'd all gab about the innermost workings of their complicated personal lives, with more of the aforementioned feelings sprinkled in liberally. (Not that I have issues, or anything, but I'm not such a fan of the spilling of souls. In case you couldn't tell.)

I am relieved to dispel that notion, or at least grant that not all book clubs are like that. Based on a certain book and movie tie-in, a good friend of mine started her own Jane Austen book club. It's a casual affair with minimal soul-spilling. For that matter, it's a casual affair, period. Not everyone reads the book, or reads it all the way, but we talk a bit about the book, eat nice food, then watch a version of the book for the month, and sometimes talk a bit more either about plot or how the movie was or wasn't faithful to the book. It's like a once-a-month social gathering with people I might not otherwise spend a weekend day with, and I'll miss it when we run out of Austen-ly goodness.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Summer goals

My New Year's resolutions are never really achievable. I do believe that my summer ones are, though.

  • Read voraciously, whatever I can get my hands on--fluff, substance, and book club books. I will have Sense and Sensibility read before the next meeting. Or, y'know, at least 2/3 of it.
  • As a subpoint to the above item, I shall try reading more of the books that have been gathering dust on my bookshelf. That way I can determine what's worth keeping and what can be sold back or passed on or Bookcrossed.
  • Work my yarn stash down. This means not purchasing new yarn willy-nilly, and furthermore, using up what I do have. I should be able to at least make a dent, I think. Also, I need to do more with the plastic bags people have given me to work with. Those things multiply in the closet, I swear.
  • Along the lines of using my craft supplies, hack up and make things with those old, half-felted thrift store sweaters.
  • Give more attention to learning how to knit.
  • Update ye olde blog more frequently, preferably with posts of substance.
  • Fuss with my syllabi for fall as well as working on handouts.
Now playing: The Shins - Caring Is Creepy
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Reflection on a semester past

As far as semesters go, Spring 2009 was not bad at all. I went into it with a few interrelated goals.

One key goal was to remember to keep time for myself. As goals go, it's a bit abstract--so I made it quantifiable--vowed to keep crocheting a part of my life during the semester and not just between semesters. Successful? Yes. I crocheted in evenings, I crocheted between classes if I had no grading stack, I crocheted during down time at my tutoring job. Creating something--whether it's as small as a bookmark or as big as a tote bag or as incomplete as a row on a long-in-progress blanket--is... soothing. And I felt the difference from other semesters.

I also had a goal to try a new way of structuring my Composition II course. It had some success and showed me a couple things that still needed adjustment. What I got right was breaking down the research process into smaller steps. What needed adjustment was the sequence. Duly noted. I also spent more time on MLA. Some students still left me baffled by their works cited pages, and enough still struggled with in-text citations, but they seemed improved over previous semesters' work.

I also had a goal to keep from taking things personally. It's still a struggle, but I'm getting there. It smarted when a student took her parents to my department chair over a grade issue (and, frankly, rattled me a bit in spite of a supportive chair), but the sting faded eventually. Again, I looked over my students' evals only once. One thought I swayed when I talked, another thought I was in the job for the money, and one thought my lectures weren't useful. I remember those, but I also remember that each of those is generally offset by at least one claiming exactly the opposite. I won't be every student's favorite instructor, and that's fine. There is always at least one I can get to.

Am I a great teacher yet? Not likely. I'm still young and relatively inexperienced. But I've got potential, and some day I may be a good one if I can keep my sanity and continue to refine my techniques and approaches. So far, so good.

Now playing: Chiodos - If I Cut My Hair, Hawaii Will Sink
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The meaning of grades, as I understand them, is as follows:

A - Exceptional! Damn, but you rocked your instructor's socks off!
B - Pretty good. Better than most, but could've used more effort.
C - Average. You did the work competently, but little snowflake, you didn't go much beyond that.
D - Not passing, but you didn't quite flunk.

As a student, I had the niggling sensation that my "A" work wasn't really exceptional. I knew how little work went into those essays I dashed off at the last minute; if anything, I felt that I deserved lower grades than what I got. The grades I feel the proudest of are those few Bs from professors who didn't accept my half-assed work as exceptional, and the even rarer As that I had to work for.

As an instructor, I strive to hold my students to a higher standard. I want my A students to know that they earned that grade. Unfortunately, I just don't seem to get many students like the kind I was...

Now playing: Tom Waits - Saving All My Love for You
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dream on

I don't remember many of my dreams, and I don't generally use this blog to reflect over dreams. Last night's, though, seemed strangely relevant and ironic given my infrequent posting here as of late.

It was some sort of action-packed nightmare involving my having been kidnapped and then having escaped, rather narrowly, I might add. Like any sensible person who reads a bit of sci fi, I knew it was some vast conspiracy with perhaps even the government behind it. In spite of being out of shape in real life, I kept up a good run in my dream, across town, in and out of neighborhoods I wouldn't otherwise venture into, through shops even, dodging and swerving to avoid my captors. At some point, one person on my tail caught up to me and made it clear that they were letting me get away, but I'd have to keep a low profile so that the evil corporate and/or government entity wouldn't find me.

As I went off, I remember thinking over all the things I'd have to give up in my fresh start, including my blog. Clearly they would be monitoring my blog, so I'd have to start a new one and find some way for my readers to be able to find me.

So if I vanish, it's not personal, 'kay? It's just my past catching up to me, and I'll give some notice for you--and only you, dear readers--to come find me.