If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Mid-Semester Blues

My students were driving me a little crazy today.  To clarify, I mean my undergraduate students.  My doctoral student writing group met today and much progress has been made.  The undergrads were a very different story.

The story may need a little context.  We are now just halfway through the semester.  We've just come back from fall break.  They have gotten 65% of their grade for the semester.  Several failed the mid-term and only a handful did well on the paper.  I'm not happy and they're not happy (well most of them are not happy and 4 of them dropped the class).

The class was much smaller today.  In addition to the 4 drops, 8 were absent and 4 came in late. One of the people who came in late also left very early.  Several others seemed to have urgent bathroom needs.  Did I mention I was not happy?

I'll admit, today's topic is not one of my favorites and the format was almost completely lecture.  I prefer discussion but there was very little of that happening today.  I realized later when I recorded the attendance that at least half of those absent were my best students (and the ones I can count on for an interesting discussion).  To be fair, I generally find my interest in teaching any class decreases considerably at the halfway mark. I think if my semester was 8 weeks long, I'd get bored at week 4.  

We have some serious issues going on in our undergraduate program.  We are working on correcting them but I'm afraid it will take a few years.  In the meantime it is brutal getting through these classes.  Our enrollment has grown so much in the last few years that we can no longer use our regular advising system.  Tomorrow we are trying out a new system where we will be advising in groups for about 6 hours straight.  Somehow I don't think my mood will improve.

1 comment:

Drax said...

Get it together, Professor! Keep the faith and don't give up. America's best and brightest need your wisdom!!!!