Thursday, May 14, 2009

downpour: caffeine and carbs

for pouring down the schoolish-bookish things on my mind; not developed or interesting, but sort of necessary mental precipitation.  The caffeine is still coursing around my body, after all.

Because that's what I need for end-of-the-year marathon grading: caffeine to keep my mind alert for mornings and late nights, and carbs to keep my body full so I can focus.  And now it's done.  I power through because I can't focus on much else but grading during this period (I twice left the oven on.  TWICE!  I'm so focused on grading that when I'm doing something else, I'm thinking about grading, and then I rush away from that something else to be able to return to grading.  It's best for everybody if I just focus and finish so that I can move on--the obsessive-compulsive tendencies and all), and I'm big on fresh, new beginnings, which summer always offers.

Wise Structure
In my comp class, I made a change and assigned the difficult research paper as the penultimate assignment.  This moved the intensely difficult grading a bit earlier in the semester, so that final grading was a lot smoother.  But there was another surprising effect that may be more important.  In the past I've assigned the most difficult paper last, and recently plagiarism has been a major problem.  It has been a far smaller problem this semester.  I surmise that the stress and time constraints at the very end of the semester make plagiarism on a difficult assignment more likely, and that moving the difficult assignment just a month earlier greatly reduces this temptation.  I think I will keep this in mind when planning future courses.

Return of Health
In the last month and a half I've been far too lax on the mostly veganism (still eating loads of fruits and vegetables, just adding too much cheese and chocolate, too); the start of summer will find me returning to a mostly vegan lifestyle.  I'll also get to return to a more consistent walking schedule; things have been a little too hectic lately (my wife had our second child two weeks ago), but now that the semester is over I should be able to take at least one arbitrary walk per day, and hopefully two to four. 

Enthusiasm
Of course I'll take a few days off, but I am super excited to start preparing for next fall's classes.  I'm remaking a gen ed lit course and a freshman comp course with new texts, and I'm really optimistic and energized about the process.

Summer Reading
I'll probably be reading a lot of poetry this summer; I'd want to for fun of course, but since I'm creating a new lit syllabus for fall, every poem I read could be a poem I teach, too.  I also hope to read a lot of drama, non-fiction, and short stories, probably staying away from novels for a little while.

Work Space
Another task for summer is to create a good home work space.  I grade papers on a card table, and carry other school materials around to wherever I am in the house.  I want to get a desk and start organizing my materials so that I have a good, clean work space.  A clean well-lighted place, if you will.

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