Friday, August 24, 2012

I Guess I'm Really in School

The general attitude this week is "I guess I'm really in school now."  That applies not only to the students, but also to me, the professor.  I guess I'm really in school means that I'm used to dragging myself home on Wednesday night to stand in front of the refrigerator looking for something to fix for dinner, then calling Dave and saying, "Meet you at the Vietnamese place?"  Only this week I called him when I was at a dead stop on the 3-story flyover at the freeway interchange.  He told me it was "orange and red" all the way home, so to go back roads.  And then I said I'd meet him at the Mongolian Barbeque.

It also means we survived J's first experience at testing.  I handed out a pre-announced pop quiz (is there such a thing?) and within moments after writing his name, he started freaking out.  "Oh, oh, um, um" and squeaks and shifting and sighs.  I directed him to head over to the Disabled Students Office across the way to take his test.  As he got up to leave, the girl with the purple hair told him to hold out his hand.  He did, and she sprayed something on his wrist.  "For stress," she whispered. "Okay," he said as he sailed out the door.  Maybe I need some of that spray: I received word that I'll be evaluated this semester by one of the full-timers. 

Mr. Call Me Maybe student looked like he lost his best friend in class, sitting there morosely the entire time.  Maybe it didn't help that it was 81 degrees in the classroom.  The fellow behind him had three paper towels on his desk, using them to mop up the beads of sweat that never stopped once during the two hours of class, and occasionally running the paper towel all over his head to try and stay dry.

I gave an MLA test (review) and cut the usual edition by 2/3.  It still took some of them nearly 45 minutes to finish; I guess these are the students who are a bit rusty at this. Our color printer died, nearly, so we got a new one of those on deal.  I had trips to the Mammogram Shop, the Dermatologist's Shop, the X-ray shop, the Grocery Shop, the Gas Shop, Target Shop, where I got myself a nice new pack of colored pencils for annotating my nice new textbooks.  I rebelled against lesson prep one afternoon and sewed the binding on my Scrappy Stars quilt, just to get my hands on the cloth.

I invited everyone in my class to Dropbox, the online cloud storage system, not only to grab up some extra storage space for myself, but also because I'm tired of the dilemma where a student needs to print a paper but they left it on their computer at home and they're here and can they send it to me to print?  (No.)

The bigger panic, though, lies within myself.  I need to get these students from Point A on this shore to Point B across the river, and I am still crafting the boat they need to get in to make the journey.  I just don't know the material that well, and I wish it were on the tip of my tongue, rather than having that vague sort of recollection of having read something once that pertained to this topic.

Welcome back, everyone. Two weeks gone, sixteen to go.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

So Call Me Maybe

 I think the beginning of the semester is like getting a circus launched.  I'm the main clown.  It takes lots of applying the mental make-up, finding the right costume -- especially when my room's average temperature is 84 degrees -- and bringing energy to entertain the crowd.

Ah, welcome back.  I have J. in my class, formerly known as "Mr. Oh-No!" by my friend, as that was his (loud) response when she'd pass back a quiz.  Note to self: send the quizzes over and J. over to the Disabled Students Office (DSPS) to be handed back.  It's only Day Two, but I have to admit I've been charmed by the boy.  He's a giant fellow, sits near the back and goes in-and-out-and-in-and-out.  I think that's a coping mechanism and I'm not getting in the way of anyone coping with Critical Thinking.

I turned away five wanna-adds before class, and fended off another ten that first day.  I usually only take the first one in the classroom, and that was a mistake.  When I came home I found his earlier pleading email to me: "Dear Elizabeth" was how it started.  Um, not a good start.  Two days ago he wrote that he was trying to join the Marines and he'd be gone next week for both days.  He didn't come to class yesterday.  I'm done with him.

But the next student made it all worthwhile: the hours hunched over the computer getting their class blog up and ready, the writing of the assignments and hoping they get printed at Printing Services, the slavish attention to typos and errors (as I'm teaching an English class), among other things.  Our class met yesterday in the library, and they had several "computer orientation" tasks to complete, one of them being an email sent from inside their class (Blackboard) software.  I suggested when they send me that email, they tell me what a great professor I am, and how they'll work hard and earn an A, or how excited they are to learn about Critical Thinking.  But I started laughing out loud when I received the following:

It's going to be an interesting (and funny) semester.
For those who haven't heard this song, here's the US Olympic Swim Team's version of it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Olympics 2012

I've been watching the Olympics, like all of you, and if I don't get too tired (because the broadcaster always saves the most compelling for last) I actually get to see some of the events.  I re-watched the Opening Ceremony because I was stuck in traffic, coming home from the Quilt Convention.  Above are the "forged" rings lifting up into the air, a very cool visual display.

I also like the art that is generated by others, inspired by the Olympics, like these three pictures of athletes, working through their fractured universe (and they'd make a great quilt).  I'm sure Gabby Douglas felt like she was fractured after her glory night, unable to compete effectively for more medals.  Some one said they should have taken away her electronics, feeling like the constant Twitter feed was a distraction.

I feel like Twitter has become a brand to push, as I see segments about the "Social Olympics:" like who "wins" on number of Facebook fans, or who is "trending" right now on the twitterfeed. 

I forbade Dave to tell me the outcome of the Women's Beach Volleyball final, and sat there glued to my set as Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won the match.  I felt a part of the emotion, and didn't want the celebration to end.  And not once did I wish I could tweet about it, joining the endless scrolling of hashtags in comments.  It was my one genuine Olympic moment, as I have known the outcome of the rest of the events ahead.

Tonight is the close.  That leaves me only two years to gear up for the Winter Olympic in Sochi, Russia, with their quilt-like banners, which I love. Can I make these??  Better get stitching.

And P.S.  Sorry for adding back in the awful comment verification words.  There are some very persistent spammerbots out in the world.  I'll take it off when I shake them.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Friday, August 03, 2012

Summer's Over

I can tell summer's over by the fact that my eyes hurt from looking at the computer screen for too long.  A new course (Critical Thinking), two new textbooks--no, make that three--and I can't blame anyone but myself because I chose them all.

It would help if I knew what I was doing.

I sort of know what I'm doing, as I've lived with my Dave for nearly a quarter of a century and he encourages sharp, not sloppy, thinking.  And then there were all those years with my sisters at home: you had be on the top of your game, logic-wise, otherwise someone would trump you and you'd lose the squabble.  My parents trained me at the dinner table to think globally about a lot of issues and my mother can still hold her own in any political argument (speaking classically, of course).  And then there's those years of eye-rolling in Sunday school, when someone makes a connection with the barest strand of plausibility.  I can't forget the Letters to the Editor of our local newspaper, where we must have the highest crackpot population I've ever seen, and they are all busy writing letters.

In between the studying of the screen and textbooks, I've been doing wash.  We've just had Barbara and David and their family here, with a day visit from Chad and his boys.  I decided to wash the bedding from the mattress up, as Tom and Susan will be checking into Motel Eastmond in a couple of weeks as well.  We also saw Scott and his family this summer and now that they've all gone back to their lives, it's really quiet around here.

Summer's over, but not the heat.  Summer's over, and I've almost finished the cutting and pinning of the Lollypop Tree blocks

Summer's over, and it's gone too soon.