Archive for September, 2015


Twice in one day, sightings of a new-to-me usage: “nope on out of there,” with “nope” used as a verb meaning “leave a situation” with a strong connotation of refusing to engage with someone’s nonsense. I like it. It reminds me of the octopus gif: 

And in just the last couple of days, I’ve noticed an uptick in my ability to say NOPE to things that I don’t want to do, don’t have to do, and wouldn’t fully enjoy–or things that I might like just fine, but I know they will crowd the week too much.  Unfortunately, this week that means I won’t go to writers’ group (it meets only every three weeks, which seems to be just about the right interval), and this week that also means that some school events are crowding out possible social events, but it is what it is.  I can’t go to the Tuesday/Thursday yoga class either night because of school stuff that I can’t say no to, so it’s not like I have total dominion over my own time, but saying no to a couple of events is making me feel calmer, more in control.


Letters to the lost

Random bullet time!

  • I’m now up to 12 letters.  I hope this will be it. The students are given October 1 as their deadline to ask, though, so it’s possible I’ll get more requests.  There’s a history teacher who has 20 to write–I feel for him, especially having done that in 2013.
  • So I need to write about 3 a week for the next 4 weeks.  (I don’t know whether I’ll get PSAT Day off this year. I won’t be proctoring the PSAT because the Snork Maiden will be taking it, so I’m not supposed to have anything at all to do with the test. I’ll probably be asked to chaperone the ninth-graders’ first aid/CPR training. It’s likely I’ll have at least half a day unscheduled, though, so I can probably count on getting three done that day.)
  • I’m really enjoying my two classes of sophomores. We’re getting started on the Canterbury Tales this week. I do have to comment on their summer reading essay drafts for Monday and figure out a revision schedule–my plan is to have them work on the essay at home while we slowly explore Chaucer in class together.  When I subbed for Viola a couple of years ago, it seemed as though they didn’t get much out of reading the Tales at home (either they didn’t read, or didn’t really understand what they read), so I’m going to try reading aloud with them in class.
  • Teaching a new prep is time-consuming, though.  I didn’t have a new prep last year, which was kind of nice!
  • Teaching a new prep is also fun.  Lots of surprises.
  • Teaching a new prep is also somewhat frustrating, in that the freshness of the new is always balanced against what you’ll do better when you’re not doing it for the first time.

Numbers, mid-September

Number of classes: 5 (one is a one-semester overload)

Largest class: 17

Smallest: 11 (that’s the overload)

Average: 14 (well, 13.6, but while I may have some students who only give 60%, those tend to cause more work, not less.  Still, a very civilized average)

Total students this semester: 68

Second semester: 57 (unless I have to pick up something else for some reason)

College recommendations to write by October 19* (so far): 10

Recommendations begun: 1

Recommendations finished: 0

New faculty to mentor/observe/meet with: 1 (last year was 3; the year before that, 2)

AP essays to grade: 22 (should be 26, but 4 were absent)

Short essays to critique: 7

Sophomore short exercises to check: 17

*Kind of a fake deadline, because very few colleges have even an early deadline before November 1, but also not fake because you don’t want to be the one thing holding up the submission of the file through Naviance.

The lone pilgrim

I don’t think I have ever directly refused to write a recommendation for a student.  Now, though, I have been asked for one by a student whom I don’t think I can recommend.  I’ve written for some very weak students and been able to squeeze out some appreciation for their hard work or the courage it took to speak up in class once in a while or their growth from point a to point b, even if that wasn’t a very great distance.  But about this student I have nothing to say.  He did most of the work and turned most of it in on time, although I had to chase him down for some of it.  Much of the time it was just the minimum necessary to fulfill the assignment’s requirements.  He rarely (maybe never) contributed to discussion unless I explicitly invited his comment, and tended to demur when I did, or give terse, unhelpful responses.  He almost never responded to another student’s idea.  At the same time, he was weirdly arrogant about his writing and his ideas, and would argue with me about my comments on his drafts.

Why is he even asking me? I always treated him kindly, but I was also clear with him about what he needed to do to improve as a writer, and he didn’t do it, and he didn’t take my class particularly seriously.

He was kind of sneaky about the ask, too, emailing me as though he had already asked, instead of hearing me tell another student to bring the appropriate form (“You told us we needed to bring X form; can I bring it tomorrow?”).

I don’t think he would be asking me if he thought he had a better choice, so I’m guessing that he doesn’t have one.  Which is sad.