Saturday, May 24, 2014

Four days 'til Green Country ...

Well, more like three and a half, I guess. This time four days from now we will be jammed into our airline seats for a long overnight flight, and this so does not feel real yet. In a week's time, I will be getting ready to teach a class that is totally new to me and SO far outside of my area of expertise. That part doesn't feel real either. I don't have much of a plan other than "we will read a bunch of books and poems that I think are interesting, and talk about them." (Which is, admittedly, about as much of a plan as I ever have for class, but most of the time I'm teaching material I've taught before, and also most of the time I have access to a whiteboard and a projector, which I won't on this trip.)

Also, sometime in between now and then, I really need to organize masses of paperwork, and also print off all of the online readings for my class for our 78-year-old auditor who doesn't do computers. (Who is going to be a pain in the ass, by the way. I was afraid of this from the beginning, but I was trying to keep an open mind because we really needed more warm bodies on this trip, but honest to God, this woman has basically stepped out of a Tennessee Williams play, and I don't even like Tennessee Williams characters when they are on the stage. By intermission I am always wishing that everyone in the play would Just. Shut. Up. Already.)

So I am worried about being in for a month of Just. Shut. Up. Already, and also worried about all the other interpersonal drama that goes along with ten people spending a month in close quarters. Travel with other people is always so stressful, and part of me really just wants to grab the backpack and run of to Bucharest or something, alone. And I really want the students to have a good time, and will feel guilty if they don't.

(This is making it sound like I regret having decided to do the trip. I don't -- or at any rate, I don't think I will. There will assuredly be good theater and good seafood involved, so there is no way this can be a total loss, and I think it will be cool seeing Green Country with students, for whom it will all be new.)

And hey, even if it is an absolute disaster, at least there is no chance I will lose my job over it. 'Cos you know what? As of this week, I have tenure.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Translations, Part V: What the Grades Really Mean

A+: This is the very rare paper that makes me dance around my apartment and shout. Also, it means I can knock off grading for the rest of the evening, because why spoil the glow?

A: This is genuinely very good indeed.

A-: This is interesting and insightful, but not polished. Or it is very polished, but not at all interesting. Oh, who am I kidding? It's really more of a B+, but see below.

B+: No good can come of this grade. Try not to assign it.

B: This has some facets that I can genuinely praise, but as a whole the paper is not quite ... there ... in ways that I will find almost impossible to articulate, and will write about half a page attempting to explain. The student, however, will be satisfied, and will not read that half-page.

B-: This is a strictly average paper, masquerading as an above-average one. But at least the student is genuinely trying very hard.

C+: This student may also be trying, but has hit a glass ceiling because the writing mechanics are so appalling; OR, this is an A student who is not trying at all.

C: A below-average grade masquerading as an average one. The paper has some vague glimmerings of promise, but a lot more wrong with it, which I will spend at least a full page attempting to explain. None of my comments will be read, and the next paper will be exactly the same.

C-: This is really more of a D, but I would greatly prefer not to have this student again next semester.

D+: This is more or less the right length, sort of on topic, and not plagiarized. It has no other redeeming features whatsoever.

D: This is way too short, but NO NO PLEASE DON'T MAKE IT LONGER.

D-: This is the kind of paper that makes one want to add insult to injury.

F+: A special grade, reserved for a paper that would have earned a B, but was turned in nine days late.

F: The easiest grade to assign, since the paper either was never turned in, or was copied from In the former case, the student will not argue; in the latter, there will be a long and complicated story about how the paper was typed at the student's great-aunt's house and the great-aunt sneaked in while the student was asleep, added the plagiarized bits, and then uploaded the whole thing to Shmoop.