Posted tagged ‘teaching’

Where’s Pea?

March 9, 2010

Oh good Lord in Heaven… almost two weeks have flown by without a peep from the Pea.  Let’s see if I can get you guys caught up real quick:

  • Spent the weekend with my family in Orlando celebrating Mama’s 60th birthday.  The venture included a trip to Cafe Tu Tu Tango, outlet shopping, and a day at Universal Studios.  Mama’s favorite ride:  Shrek.  Oh man, does she love Shrek.  My favorite:  The Mummy.   A rollercoaster!  In the dark!  With fire!  Dude.
  • Commented on 88 papers in 4 days.  That is 22 papers per day (just in case you didn’t pass 3rd grade math, you know, with the division).  Did I have time to do anything else? Glad you asked.
  • Ran on campus last Thursday, a first for me even though I have worked at USF for 6 years.  Unbeknownst to me, there are hills on campus.  I think I climbed every one of them in the hour that I ran.
  • Discovered that, after a long run, I sometimes feel woozy.  Almost passed out in the girls bathroom in Cooper Hall.  That bathroom is scarier than the thought of passing out.  Trust me.
  • Saturday Monkito and I hit the Gasparilla Art Show, the Buddha Lounge for lunch, and Joffrey’s coffee in Ybor (for a HUGE slice of chocolate cake).  Lovely time had by all.  Then off to Paci’s Pizza for a slice  (Monkito swears it is just like NY pizza… what do I know?  I have never even been to NY) and to our Saturday night AA meeting in South Tampa.  Yes, we go to dinner and a meeting almost every Saturday night.  It is a date.  Shut it.
  • Sunday morning = church!  Then a quick 5k, lunch with Monkito, a jog (with Monkito!) at Lake Park, and some volleying of the tennis ball at another neighborhood park.  Yes, Monkito went for a jog.  She did great!  We did a mile (with exercise stops along the trail, which we did too) and then walked another mile to complete the loop.  And playing tennis (and I use that in the absolute loosest sense of the words) was a blast.  Turns out I can keep the ball on the court the majority of the time.  Who knew?
  • Monday I drove down to Fort Desoto to run.  Beautiful view.  Ran for an hour and a half (a new record for me).  Haven’t calibrated my Nike band yet, but I am guessing I covered 8 mile or so.  Could see the ocean most of the time from the paved trail.  The temperature was about 70.  Gorgeous.
  • And finally, today I was very, very brave as I had two cavities filled.  And, all day long, the Crest Gel commercial from the 80s has been in my head.  Cavity Creeps attacking!  Crest Gel! Crest Gel!  (I need to get out more)

And, just think, we are only on Day 2 of Spring Break!  The adventure continues…

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Hazards

February 18, 2010

I was previously unaware that teaching Composition had any occupational hazards.  But lo, the hazard hath found me out!

Tonight, I looked down and realized that my pinky was bleeding.  I have graded so many papers in the past week that I have rubbed the skin off of my pinky. And I realized this because, in addition to covering my student’s papers with comments, I was also leaving a dainty trail of blood behind.

Curve Schmerve

February 12, 2010

Each semester, I forget how discouraging grading the first papers from my students can be.  Honestly, it is a good thing I forget… otherwise, I don’t think I could willingly sign up for this kind of torture time after time.

I wonder if they are just so woefuly unprepared that they can’t bring their performance up to university standards by the time Paper 1 is due.

Maybe I am not reaching them with my carefully laid plans and my thorough explanations?

Do they not like the subject?

Does my class get attention only after Chemistry and Biology (we are a science-focused school–many of my kids have a killer course load in math and science)?

Perhaps they didn’t believe me when I told them I was a merciless grader?

All I am sure of is that Monday is going to hit them pretty hard.  The average grade was a C-.  No curve.

Buckle your seatbelts, kids.  This promises to be quite a ride.

Shall We Try Another Draft?

February 5, 2010

Conferencing with my students simultaneously marks the most rewarding part of my semester and the most challenging.  I meet with each student for 20 minutes.  We discuss the most recent draft of their paper.  Currently, their assignment is to rhetorically analyze another author’s work.  Yeah.  They don’t know what it means either.  All rhetorical analysis boils down to (for their purposes) is looking at the way the author lays out her argument; does she use appeals to logic, ethics and/or emotion?  How do those appeals impact the reader (do they have the intended effect or does the author miss the mark)?  How well does the author achieve her purpose for writing the essay?  Has she reached her intended audience?  Not too difficult, really.

Some kids get it right away.  For others, the assignment requires a bit more explanation (and some examples); I can see their expression shift when things click in their minds and they suddenly understand.  And then there are those poor souls who just can’t get past summarizing.  Those are the kids I really struggle with.  I try to explain the assignment in a different way.  I provide examples.  I chatter on about the way I see the argument… and they just give me the same blank look.  Just staring.

I always wonder if the problem lies with them or with me.  Why can’t I explain something this simple and get them to understand?  But, then again, shouldn’t any university student be able to understand this assignment?

Sometimes the impulse is to impatiently dismiss them (in my mind at least) as inferior students.  But I don’t.  Instead, I urge them to try another draft, to come to my office hours, to let me help them work through the assignment.  I will not give them a grade they didn’t earn, but I explain and re-explain and work with draft after draft in an effort to help them get the assignment right.  In an effort to help them learn.  Because I am a teacher, and that is my job.

I Can Smell Spring Semsester From Here…

January 6, 2010

Many, many things distract me from planning my class that begins in 5 days.  Hell, I would rather clean my bathroom shelves than create lesson plans (yes, I cleaned them yesterday).  I don’t know what my deal is.  Planning the class truly isn’t that difficult.  It requires me to sit down with a calendar (gasp!) and map out the dates for major projects.  Then I need to look through the book and find some corresponding readings.  And since the book was created by two of my colleagues, specifically for this class, the readings already relate to the projects. No cajoling or stretching here.  I don’t even have to READ the pieces yet. I always wait to read them until the day before class, so my impression and my ideas are fresh.  Yet, I still procrastinate.  And clearly, I would rather describe to you what goes into planning a class than actually, well… planning the class.

Tomorrow is the day.  By tomorrow evening, I will have Spring semester eating out of the palm of my hand.  Just you wait and see…

No Need to Bow

January 4, 2010

Part of my job responsibilites this semester include co-editing the new textbook for ENC 1101.  We have an existing textbook that I contributed to/edited last year… I think it a solid textbook, if I do say so myself.  So my co-editor and I opted to work with what we already have, making changes and adding material, instead of starting from scratch.

I began going through the reading selections today, making notes about what can be salvaged and what needs to be dumped.  Keep in mind that I had only read the pieces that I assigned to my class up to this point (which should answer any lingering questions you may have had regarding whether or not professors memorize the textbook).

I ran across at least one piece that seems to have no connection at all to the theme of the textbook or of the class as a whole.  At least two of the pieces were on a graduate level–or at the very least, upper-classmen (I teach freshmen).  One of the pieces was 30 pages long.  Good God Almighty!  Thirty pages???  I can’t imagine how many of the new teachers ended up assigning one of these pieces, only to be torn to shreds by angry freshmen that couldn’t comprehend the reading or simply gave up halfway through.

Before today, I was unsure that the textbook really needed to be revised.  Today, well, today I became a believer.  You may call me Editor-in-Chief Pea, from here on out.

Sunday, Sunday…

January 3, 2010

Made it back to church today.  I have perfect attendance for 2010!

Walked 3.3 miles and worked out with Jillian Michaels.  I still think she might be trying to kill me.

Went to sponsor dinner at the treatment center.  I got a new sponsee.  The old one… well, let’s just say things didn’t really work out for her.  Rumors consist of a relapse and smuggling drugs into the treatment center for the girls who were still in residential treament.  Yowzers.  The new sponsee seems bright and motivated.  I am excited to work with her.  Besides, I can feel myself getting a little self-involved; and, as trite as it sounds, nothing dissolves self-involvement like helping someone else.  (I am fighting the urge to break into AA slogans here…)

Tomorrow marks the beginning of knocking my ass back in gear for the upcoming semester.  Actually looking forward to it.  Seems that 3 weeks of sloth is my limit.