Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What Term Is It?

Yesterday I discovered that I made a HUGE mistake as an online teacher.  I keep telling myself that it could have been worse.

I thought I had accepted a schedule of 2 English 1101 classes, both 6 week sessions on either side of the semester, plus a 12 week Short Story class.  So I made out the syllabus for the class that started yesterday, having it end in March.  I got an e-mail from a student and then another one who wanted to know why I had the class ending in March, when it ends in May.

I was about to fire off a dismissive e-mail, when I thought to go to another site to check the schedule.  And sure enough, it appears that my 6 week class is now a full semester class.  Was it changed at some point?  That's possible.  It's also possible that it was always a January to May class, and I should have checked.

I won't make that mistake again.

As mistakes go, it could have been worse.  I'd much prefer to learn that I have an expanded schedule than to think I signed up for a full semester course only to have it be a compressed one.  I do need to rethink every single due date and to re-enter all that information, which will be a huge annoyance.  But once I get it done, there will be some benefits.

The main benefit will be that for the next 8 weeks, I, too, will have a more leisurely schedule.  I think that the 1101 students do better on a compressed schedule, but it's a compressed schedule for me too.  Now I will have time for other projects.  I've made good progress on sorting the books.  I want to continue doing that.

I also want to keep going with my short story project.  I want to determine if I am close to being done with a collection or if I need to keep going.  At first, I had a vision of including stories from many voices in the school that's the connecting point of the stories:  a custodian, a food service person, the building itself.  But now I'm not sure it makes sense.  I gave up on the idea of the building--I condensed that story idea into a paragraph at the end of the story that I wrote this fall, based on Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried."

I'm surprised at the sense of shame I feel over my mistake.  I keep telling myself that there are much worse mistakes I could have made, like not turning grades in on time.  I could have not realized that I screwed up until I went to turn in grades in March, only to realize that I had more time than I thought--although that wouldn't have been possible, since I'd discover it when I went to do attendance verification.

So, let me continue to focus on the wins of yesterday--an evening student who gave me a high five because she was so excited to start her school career, a student who asked me for a letter of recommendation so that she could apply for a job as a grief counselor, a good start overall to the various school starts of yesterday.

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