Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mid-Semester Hump

I finally finished with the grading at 11 pm last night (sheesh). It was not as bad as I had expected, but I think that was partially due to a miscalculation on my part early on that led me to think my whole class was getting Ds and Cs. Once I did the recalculation (yeah, of a whole class of exams), I started to feel like they were learning some things and I wasn't the worst teacher in the world.

My eyeballs were all bleary from constant reading, writing, and typing in test scores. The left eye confuses 3s and 8s, 5s and 6s. Took some getting used to. I am still tired.

I did have the occasional WTF moment while grading. I can kind of tell when students just take down information from my cryptic powerpoints without any real context, because they make connections that aren't there come exam time. I always get lengthy discussions of the corset when I ask about the Cult of True Womanhood because there is an image of the corset next to the words "Cult of True Womanhood" on the slide. A couple of students managed to memorize information off of the Wikipedia entry for "Culture Industry." I know this because they mentioned Max Horkheimer, whom I didn't even talk about. Typing in the sentence they wrote yielded Wikipedia as the very first result. Don't think I didn't mention it on their exams. If you can take the time to memorize Wikipedia, you can take the time to memorize your notes, right? It is especially lame if I tell you in advance not to go to the web for info on the questions, because I want them to show they understand class topics as we discussed them.

Whatevs. Not everyone wants and A in my class, and that's cool, but I'm not gonna let it slide to be the cool professor. I used to want to be cool professor, but she got treated like crap a lot of the time. A lot like "cool girlfriend." Do not even get me started on her.

Latest teaching-related pet peeves that "cool professor" used to let slide:

1) "Can I leave class early? I have a job interview/appointment/sorority event, etc.?"

"cool professor" said: "yeah, um, sure."

happy prof says: Asking permission makes it seems like I am not going to hold you responsible for what you miss when you leave. Or remember that you take off all the time. Just let me know you are leaving so as not to be rude and try not to let me know that you would rather be somewhere else.

2) "I was absent yesterday. Did I miss anything important? Can I have the notes? Do we have an assignment for next time?"

"cool professor" said: "come by my office hour and we'll go over it."

Happy prof says: A- you missed my class, which I consider kind of important. I bust my ass trying to make it interesting and worthwhile. Not a great way to make me remember you. B- If I just gave out my lecture notes I wouldn't even have to show up. I'd just post them and we'd do this whole thing via the internet. Or I'd write a book and make you buy it and take a test. In other words. NO. and C, well the assignment thing is the only appropriate question to ask.

3) "I'm going to miss our discussion of rap music, but it's because I'm going to the Kanye West show, so it's still relevant." or even better, "..but I know a lot about rap music, so I should be fine."

"cool professor" said : "what kind of seats did you get?" "Ok see you next time."

Happy prof says: Why would you even tell someone this? Now I know you are blowing off my class, and you manage to insult me by indicating that my class will be about as enlightening and thought provoking as your 10 years of reading liner notes and magazines. Just tell me you were sick and I'll feel sorry for you. Jeezy Creezy.

Just a few mid-semester moments on the brain.

Today we discussed gangster films, probably my favorite subject to teach. Everyone seems to like the assignment (watch a film, explain how it attempts to discuss the American Dream), they like watching the clips in class of films and documentaries (Cocaine Cowboys gets them every time!). I think they are also surprised to learn that I actually like these movies. It always amazes me how young white kids from Orange County seem to know a lot about the gangster ethos.

This was on last night. I can't believe how long The Great Pumpkin has lasted! I couldn't really watch, but knowing it was on made me kind of nostalgic. Check out this piece of Halloween from years past:

I'm the one in the middle. And this was about 1987-88. I was so lumberjack grunge girl before it was even cool!

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