I’m supposed to be grading papers right now.
I’m trying. I really am, but there are a couple of things working against me at the moment.
Challenge # 1: My head is full of crud. I feel kind of like this:
But that’s not the real problem. Even feeling like this, I would be able to grade papers if my students had made any effort to actually revise their papers for quality.
Challenge #2: My students don’t seem to care. Seriously. I am trying to grade the papers from the one class where I thought I had students who cared, and even they have let me down. Or maybe I’ve let them down. I don’t know anymore.
Let me back up. This semester I have been teaching four classes, and each of them have been a journey in patience, flexibility and trying to maintain high expectations in the face of low expectations. To be specific:
- My Theater Appreciation class has confronted me with numerous challenges. I had several students who actually wanted to learn. A few foreign students who struggled to learn. 3/4 of the basketball team who had to learn (even if they weren’t really interested). Several football players who were too macho to learn (as were the basketball players). And a corner full of potheads who seemed to think they needed to indulge themselves before my class in order to learn. This class has been full of race issues, prejudice issues, anti-gay issues, sexual harassment issues and any other issue that you can think of that doesn’t come with your normal Theater Appreciation syllabus. I have had students cheat. I have had students do minimal work and expect high grades. Currently the students are supposed to be working on final projects. 5 of them showed up for the work day. 5 out of 25.
- Stage Makeup has actually been fun. I was supposed to have three students, but ended up with one, so she and I adjusted the schedule and the learning goals for one-on-one teaching. The biggest challenge has been sticking to the schedule. But, we’ve had fun, and I think she’s learned a lot. Here are some of the applications she has done:
- I have been teaching two sections of Comp 1, one live and one on-line. The live one has been plagued with snow days, and students who turn in work late (despite my no late policy). For each major paper, I have draft workshop days. They either don’t come, or don’t bring drafts. This time I set up individual meetings (which was supposed to happen each time, but the snow days and some sick days messed that up). Only 5 students signed up. Only 4 came. The On-Line section has been going pretty well, except for a few students who have disappeared, and one student who believes he has nothing to learn. Until this paper. For this class, I have them turn in and read each others drafts, and comment. I also read the drafts and provide copious comments and notes. This time, it seems, they only paid minimal attention to my notes–basically only the grammar notes. I’m sure some of them tried, but some really didn’t. What do I do with that. These are the papers that I am supposed to be grading today. And they make me want to cry.
So what do you do when you feel like your students don’t want to learn? I for one am going back to bed!