Friday, October 23, 2009

I swear I'm not pandering

Sorry about the bad blogging. Most of my mental posts lately have been on the subject of how busy TM and I are--when you teach at a college with fewer than 45 full-time faculty members, the four classes that you teach every semester are just a fraction of your work-related activities.

But I shall forgo lamenting/congratulating myself for my busyness, for today was an easy-ish day, with 10 student conferences instead of my two sections of comp and Brit Lit's being devoted to letting students work on their Dramatic Presentations in groups. I feel more relaxed tonight than I have all month.

And on the subject of Brit Lit: I scored me some major points in that class today, methinks. This is the first time that one of the surveys hasn't gone super well for me; it's not a problem class, at all (and I'm struck lately by the fact that I haven't really had problem classes since my first year; I wonder whether it's really that the classes have changed, or just that I don't personalize the bad ones in the same way? Of course I totally personalize the good ones and take them as hard evidence that I rawk). But it's kind of...duller than usual. Oddly enough, it's a smaller section than I've ever had before--only seventeen students--and I have a handful who will always participate and another, larger handful who will add things now and again. But for the last four semesters--Brit Lit I in the falls and Brit Lit II in the springs--the surveys have been fabulous and fun, and now it's just kind of sedate (which = dull, at times, I think). I actually have some really good, conscientious students in there--but I'm thinking that they might be the students who worry a lot about being Wrong and who therefore don't talk all that much. Anyway, it's been an okay class, but not one that I'm really excited about.

However, today I did two things--well, three--really not to win them over, but I sure did make them all happy.

First, they're all presenting scenes on Monday, and I asked them to hand in a 3-5-page reflection paper at the same time, describing how their group came to their staging decisions, how their performance (as a group and individually) derives from an interpretation of the play, etc. At the start of class, a (very strong) student asked me whether they could turn in the papers on Wednesday, so that they could reflect on their performances proper (and have a little longer to work on them). "Sure," I said. "That makes sense. I have no problem with that. Everyone" (raising my voice) "[Student] has suggested that I change the due date for the paper to Wednesday so that you can write about the performance itself. I think that that's a good idea. So let's just do that. Okay?" Sighs of relief and pleasure all around. I worried briefly that I was caving, or something, but honestly I don't particularly care (I'm getting more comp papers on Monday anyway, so it's not like it messes up my schedule) and I think that it was a totally reasonable suggestion. So eh, why cling to my power, here?

Second, I announced that I'm canceling next Friday's class because Awesome New Dean suggested that I attend a conference on collegiate Honors programs in DC. And we all know the brownie points that canceling a Friday afternoon class can garner, so I needn't mention those.

Finally, one of the groups asked me to play Helen's role in their performance of scene 12 of Doctor Faustus, since they're short one person and it's a non-speaking part. They've decided to take a comedic approach to the scene, so they want me to strut and do a little Miss America-wave as I cross the stage. (This is an all-female group, by the way.) I nodded thoughtfully and agreed--but not without commenting that they're clearly just trying to undermine ALL of my authority in the classroom, right? They laughed, and I think that they were pretty pleased with the plan.

(They also teased one of their group members mercilessly for publicly referring to me by the nickname that apparently they think I don't know, although really it's what almost all of the majors call me--so that was kind of fun--I have to say that, never really having had a nickname, it does make me feel good to have such a harmless (and genuinely not disrespectful) one now!)

So let's see whether they're most chipper next week!

(And really my classes are just fine this semester. The seminar is Teh Awesome. It probably needs its own post one of these days. Awesome New Dean showed up yesterday to observe and join in the discussion, and it was fab. Truly, this class--and the one in the same slot in the major that I taught last year, also a capstone English seminar--makes me so glad to be a professor.)

Enough of this rambling self-congratulation. Enjoy your weekends, y'all. As for me, tomorrow I plan to sleep in until eight o'clock. Dude!

1 comment:

Good Enough Woman said...

Fewer than 45 FT faculty? I didn't know that Field was such a tiny school! You must be VERY busy with service. Hang it there.

Glad you had a such a nice day with the students.

(My verification word is "pronky.")