Tag Archives: teaching composition

I Only Made One Person Cry Today

Being a teacher is really, really tough. It’s not hard to fail the students who don’t do the work and don’t care about the class. But these days, I have more and more good students who show up and hang on my every word. They do all the reading and do all the work. The problem is that they just can’t write.

Today I told a single mother who’s a second-language speaker that she should really think about taking the class again. She couldn’t stop crying, even though I hugged her and told her that I wasn’t trying to tell her she was a bad student. She’s going to pass the class, but she can’t turn an essay in on time to save her life. That is not going to fly at the next level.

By the end of the quarter, about all a community college teacher is doing is fielding panicked requests/excuses from students, and dreading the moment we have to sit down in front of the gradebook and figure out whose Christmas we are going to ruin.

I did get my evals today, though, and I did receive some super nice comments from students. (“You are one of my all-time favorite teachers!” I’ll take that any day!) I sure wish I could make those nice comments erase the crummy feelings I’m left with whenever I have to crush someone’s expectations, though.

We had a beautiful freezing-fog day today–even dead weeds look Christmasy with a layer of glimmering frosting, and ice crystals are sifting right out of the very air. Of course it’s beautiful mainly because it’s the first truly foggy day so far this year. (I will go slightly insane as soon as we have one of our three-weeks-without-the-sun stretches–hopefully this is not the start of one.) I bought myself a little blue therapy light that I have next to my laptop, and I think it really does help.

My poor duck will have to wait until we get one of those famous pineapple express fronts and her pond thaws out–she was standing on the ice and looking at me beseechingly today. She did allow me to pet her, but I could tell what she really wanted was for me to turn the hose on. Sorry, sweetie.

The mares were nickering loud enough this afternoon that I got the hint–tomorrow I will start feeding twice daily. I have never had them wait this long for 2x feedings, but all three of them are on the overweight side (still are) and I know they haven’t been hurting with nine acres to forage all day.

Olive is tossing around a fake mouse under my chair. She’s hoping I’ll notice and throw it across the room for her. She and Scout are trying to work out a successful play style–difficult since he’s about five times her size, and he’s also pretty aggressive. Just like horses who are gelded late, I think tomcats tend to retain some of their “stud” behavior if they’re neutered after they mature.

Anyway, I’d like to share  a Joseph Campbell quote that Kathleen posted on her page today:

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” ~The Power of Myth

Being an English teacher surely does make one feel alive. A little too much alive at times, thank you, but I don’t think I’ll ever be bored doing this.

More as it happens.

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The school year is almost over….

Well, I’m almost done with my year of teaching composition. What I won’t miss:

1. Having to deal with a Level II sex offender in my 9 a.m. class
2. Driving 150 miles a day
3. Weekends wasted grading essays instead of hanging out at the barn with the horses
4. Trying to fix copy machine jams at 8 a.m.
5. The daily routine of grabbing all my stuff on the way out the door (water bottle, papers, flash drive, eye drops, food, etc).
6. Dealing with statewide community college software outages
7. Getting stuck behind spud trucks in the canyon

What I will miss:

1. Hanging out in the adjunct office with my colleagues and some former students who have become really good friends
2. Telling funny stories in class (I’m actually getting pretty decent at this–all good teachers need to develop their inner comedian)
3. Watching students have a great time during a class project
4. Stopping for asparagus at the White Trail fruit stand
5. All Things Considered (thanks to three hours in the car every day, I’m now a total NPR junkie)
6. Drawing bad pictures on the white board

I still have to look for work this summer. Although they’ve told me I can come back part-time again next year, I’m going to try to find something full-time closer to home. Good luck with all that. After my five months of hunting last summer I’d be a fool to get my hopes too high.

But time off=more fun with the horses. Hard to feel too depressed about that.

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