Thursday, December 22, 2011

Home for the Holidays

Finally, I am home--at my folks' house--for the holidays.

Sadly, thus far I have mostly been dealing with my out-of-whack sinuses, decorating the tree, and sleeping. But those are my regular "first days' home stuff," in fact, where I catch up on what I've been missing: sleep, regular meals with nutritional food (Fig Newtons and pickles are not approved!), and TV.

I admit: mostly bad TV, which occasions comments and sighs from parents sitting in the same room.

No, they don't like the Kardashians. They are horrified by RHBH. The Vampire Diaries make them wince, as do NCIS marathons, What Not To Wear, and various other pop culture shows I love--in small, moderated doses. But since I am sharing the consistent round of news and game shows--hey, I figure we're even, since those are at the bottom of my list along with sports and talk shows. Part of the holidays is remembering why we love each other but don't live together: TV is one big reason.

Of course, we all love The Closer.

Good news: three TVs in-house. One downstairs, one in living room, and one in master bedroom.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Semester completed!

Finally! All grades are posted -- and it took some time because I graded the final exams for my sophomores, then considered each student's overall grade and individual grades in turn, making sure I was really accurate in their final grade.

I am satisfied!

All grades in means the semester is "officially" over -- but I have one student with an outstanding assignment, notes for the junior and senior playwrights, and filing to do.

So tomorrow is all for errands and cleaning!

Winding down: the Final 48 and a Hanukkah Treat!

I am definitely winding down, both in terms of energy/accomplishment and this semester.

I only have two tasks ahead of me for the "official" teaching semester left, and both will be done today. Then I have a handful of tasks for tomorrow (Sunday) before I leave town, cat in hand, for the holidays.

My local gifts have all been given. Having coffee now with one great friend and lunch today (or, hopefully, tomorrow) with another couple.

Social obligations: check!

Housecleaning. Is there anything as irritating as coming home to a sloppy, dirty house? Don't think so, so everything needs to be whisked through (at least) so that the house smells good, sparkles, and the trash is out, the laundry done, the dishes put away, the fridge emptied out.

Of course, I have a list.

Resolves for vacay:
1. Have fun!
2. Finish novel for editor
3. Write 2 book reviews
4. Go to the gym or work at-home treadmill everyday: build up stamina!
5. See family and friends as much as possible!
6. Prepare syllabi for spring semester
7. Consider goals for 2012: specific and general
8. Read a lot!
9. Watch TV: bad bad bad reality shows, NCIS, The Closer (final season!), and generally revel in having full access to the tube for 3 full weeks... it's like heroin to me.

And yes, I LOVE this!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I admit it: I'm crazy

It's a seasonal thing. Perhaps if My U had trimesters instead of semesters, the entire November-to-January holiday season wouldn't bring on a fit of vapors and waves of resentment, but it does.


My own fault: I overscheduled meetings with grading and evaluations and reading plays and friends. Every year I wonder why I don't learn, but I never do. Or... one friend suggested I was too conscientious: just buzz through the exams. Just whiz through the plays and papers. Just whip out the end-of-semester evals.

On some level I know she's right: students barely read and register their written evals at this stage: they're too tired, burnt-out, or hyped for exams to log the very real suggestions made about their attitude or growth, unless it is unequivocally positive. Even then, their internal self-critique suggests we're a/ lying, b/ stupid, or 3/ whizzing thru the writing... It is a challenge to get them to take positive criticism gracefully.

On another level: people in administration (above our individual chairs) seriously do not get what we do during this period--and by "do" I mean giving exams and all that goes with it but even the varying nature of the coursework that demands different methods of evaluation. For example: in the theatre history course, it is appropriate to give a 3-hour final to test their knowledge of terms as well as their synthesis of concepts. In playwriting, however, it is appropriate to ask them to write or revise previous exercises in writing (beginning: ten-minute plays, advanced: full-length plays). In neither case, can an electronic Scan-tron test be given: so the notion that 48 hours after an exam period is enough time to evaluate, grade, and post grades for all comers is, well, stupid.

But there you are: the divide between faculty and administrators.

It is also ridiculous to ask professors--who do not choose the time of their final and cannot change it--to grade finals under the duress of time, which only leads to stress. When grading finals, the fact is that one should read no more than 5 essays or papers or short plays in a  row before taking a break...  because if you're asking students to think, you cannot grade their work like a short-answer true/false exam.

The conundrum is that we professors are asked to address students with rigor--high expectations, complex concepts and skills, prepare them for the professional and adult world--but not at the expense of timely posting of grades.


Makes me realize that, again, I'll have to adjust my timetable next semester to avoid the Maytime frustration of this same deal. Final plays due earlier. Final papers (in my drama lit course) due earlier. Plan for others' parties, final meetings, and so forth by avoiding the crush of time... And makes me realize--again--that faculty are now operating in a consumer culture where the administration is most interested in the customers' happiness--and not, in fact, any of the things they say they are interested in. But in this economy, when the customer is paying $50K per annum for the product, one can see why their complaints might be louder, their voices might be heeded, and we might just be becoming a service industry.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Apologies... and a treat (hey, it's the holiday season!)

I've been neglecting the blog posts, because I've been:
  1. writing and delivering 40 individual evaluations for my undergraduate students, as well as wrangling 3 sets of evaluation meetings between faculty teams and 50 individual students
  2. giving a review and final exam for 29 students
  3. collecting, reading, and grading plays by 10 adult students, 9 juniors, and 3 seniors (total of 36 short plays and 3 long plays)
  4. reading and evaluating 100 applications for 1 job opening
  5. ordering books for next semester's classes
  6. creating end-of-semester handouts to demonstrate to students what skills and knowledge they have accrued over 15 weeks
  7. developing surveys for each course to help me plan improvements for next fall
  8. oh, and attending three holiday parties...
Not much. Sigh. it always makes the holidays so stressful. But the evaluations and exams seem to have gone very, very well.

But in the spirit of giving, here's a treat.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Past posts, this blog + Holiday Treat!

Previous posts, this time in years past. I notice big gaps: could that be because of the mix of exams, evaluations, and simple overwhelming end-of-semester hoops to jump through? Could be.

Today I am at the coffee shop, working on grading the final exercise of my sophomores, reading and evaluating the work of my adult writers and compiling/posting their grades, and writing the first few of my evaluations for my sophomores (to be given Monday). Oh, and answering questions from same about their grades/standing and/or what will be on final.

2008: Christmas decorations in Paris, end of my sabbatical.

2010: My wish list for last year. I actually ended up with most of these, bought for myself.

My Christmas shopping is nearly done:
  • DFW friends -- complete! including hostess gifts from Dude, Sweet Chocolate (Bishop Ave. District)
  • Distant friends (to be sent by mail) -- in process
  • Nephews -- yes, more gift cards bought with acquired "reward points" from various accounts
  • Dad -- not yet done
  • Mom -- done (including birthday)
  • Sister -- done (including birthday)
  • Brother-in-law -- gift card, done
Wow, do I feel ahead of the game. (Satisfied, calm breath....)

Treat = Bruce singing Christmas song!

Better watch out!

Monday, December 5, 2011

One more time... and Hoagy Charmichael treat

Well, it was a weekend full of crazy student plays and grading and sleeping--finally! The weather here in Big D has turned "winter-y": meaning it is a constant cold, damp rain that seeps into one's bones and takes root.

Crazy woman that I am, I still have my bedroom window open... for fresh air. I sleep bundled under two quilts, one regular and one down. In flannel pjs. And socks. And I love it!

The downside is that when not bundled in quilts, one must wear sweatshirts and other generally bulky, warm layers... resembling the Michelin Man (or L'Homme de Michelin, if one feels the need to become more elegant). Not usually a good look, but at home? Alone? Who cares.

I am now in the end-of-semester part where a/ students finally realize what the math means; b/ grading must be done quickly so as not to pile up; c/ every day has some kind of final, evaluation, or meeting scheduled, which must be handled before I spend the holidays at my folks' house...

The treat: Hoagy Carmichael himself playing "Stardust" on the piano. Sublime!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wow! The end of it all....

Today, I completed two out of my four courses. In the undergrad class, there remains the review and the final exam to come... plus of course grading the exam. In the night course, there remains... a final meeting to discuss the class over drinks.

And the final meetings were, well, great.

Monday sees the end of the other two courses, leaving only the final revised plays to stream in slowly (for the seniors) and quickly (for the juniors). And the individual students evals (I have a total of 28+3+9=40 to write and gobs to deliver) and eval meetings (two days' full).

Sigh. Only 14 days from now it will ALL. BE. OVER.