Thursday, September 20, 2007

Working Through the Distractions

This week has been an extremely busy one. I took up essay drafts from all of my students, and that is all I've had time to read this week. Actually, I did manage to get my bible lesson read, and I read a couple of blogs, but the bulk of my time has been spent with freshman personal experience stories and sophomore analytical responses.

This semester I'm experimenting with small group writing workshops in which each group member must exchange essays with the others and read and comment on each essay outside of class. Then the group comes back together to discuss what they have read and help each other improve the essay for the final (graded) draft. This is working out rather well, as the students seem to enjoy "playing teacher" with each other's essays. However, since I am a member of all the groups, I must read and comment on over 100 essays. To do this in a timely manner is next to impossible. I actually was a little over-ambitious in planning how many essays I can read in a week which resulted in my not finishing all the essays that were due to be discussed today. However, it seems to have worked out well anyway because the students were prepared and were able to carry the conversation without much input from me. Perhaps this is what should happen most of the time from now on.

Today is game day at my university, and early this morning parking lots were already being blocked off for tailgating before the game this evening. I really hate Thursday games because it seems that our university is trying to turn into another UT. Tailgating and other pre-game activities are more important than academic activities on days like today. And the students aren't the only ones buying into this attitude; the administration is promoting it as well, it seems. Tailgating begins well before the game and takes place not only near the stadium but also in the middle of campus. The campus is open to all tailgaters, student and non-student alike, and cars are parked in some of the grassy areas which have been transformed into picnic areas complete with gas and charcoal grills brought from home. And although our campus is dry, alcohol is allowed and flows freely. So even as some students are still trekking from class to class, others are enjoying the festivities that are taking place right outside classroom windows. I'll admit that the atmosphere is nice, but it makes it hard for those teachers who have serious activities planned for class. I'm glad I'm not teaching a late afternoon class today.

I'm supposed to do office hours until 2:00 today. My students have essays due next week, and some of them need to come in and get help. But I doubt that any will come today, not with all the better options outside my office.

The band has just begun rehersing out on the lawn. I guess this signals the official start to tailgating. Class dismissed.


Tony Arnold said...

Have a beer and chill out to manage the stress...

My bad, that was the whole problem in the first place.

Just adapt your teaching methodology so that you schedule creative writing on those wild days, and the serious essays on the more sober days. :-)

JMG said...

If I liked beer, I probably would. I'll look closer next time and see if anyone's making mixed drinks.