Germs and Grades and Emails, Oh My!

This week featured only one day of teaching, thanks to a fantastic virus that struck Little Miss Talkalot II. I guess her body was already kind of run down from having that 24-hour stomach virus the week before, because she came down with a fever on Monday and it didn't leave until yesterday. 72 hours of fever is a little extreme in the kid-world.

After a week with me, she's ready to return to school now.
As a result, I've worked a little bit on my play (reformatting, mostly, into an old-fashioned standard script form -- which is really, really counter-intuitive and highly fucking annoying, but necessary if I'm going to start submitting the thing) and very little on poems. The rest of my time has been divided between running between the kitchen and the living room for Little Miss Talkalot II, who -- despite being feverish and congested and generally miserable -- still had an immense appetite, and sending and answering emails in an effort to keep the last weeks of the semester from turning into a complete tire fire.

Also, some grading. Grading Lite.

It always happens, too, at the end of each semester, that I begin compiling a list (usually in the Notes function on my phone) of Things I Will Do Differently Next Semester, where I imagine revisions to my courses that will result in better student learning and more efficient teaching on my part. I have these "brilliant" ideas and then later I'll try to incorporate them. Sometimes this works out and sometimes it's not-so successful -- the key, I've found, is to make those changes small and incremental. If you go big, i.e. The Complete Overhaul, it usually results in The Complete Disaster.

One of my aims for future semesters is to create less grading on my part. The particular challenge is to make it necessary for students to read before a class, so they're familiar with the material. I usually give quizzes or reading responses, but that's one of the things that creates a backlog of grading. Another is to make writing assignments as productive as possible, in terms of what the students learn, so that there can be fewer of them. 

And just to head off this question: when you have 30 students in a writing course, and when 75-100% of what you teach is writing, then yes, fewer writing assignments IS a practical and necessary goal.

Anyway, this is just to say that I've had to revise the schedule of final assignments in all of my classes this semester, since I'm so behind with grading AND I've had to take almost an entire week off at the end -- and while I'm trying to triage what's left of these courses, I'm also looking to the future and trying to find ways to avoid this happening again.

So, you know, same old story, different year, here.

Also also, it's really depressing knowing that most of the academic world is DONE with finals and grading by this point, but at the community college, our grades are due on Christmas Eve. WTF, Calendar Committee?

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