Today I met with students about their research papers. It was great. It was great because it's a class of 8 and I only met with 4 today. It's amazing how generous and giving one can be when one only has to read 4 papers and have intelligent things to say about them. I've forgotten how productive conferencing can actually be. Conferencing can be productive, but so difficult to do with a class of 24 (or more classes than one or two). Which is why, when one makes the leap from grad student (teaching 2) to Professor (teaching 4?) the conferencing often fades away into a distant memory. It's too bad because students can get so much out of conferencing. I also got a lot out of the conferences. I can get direct information about what, lately, has been helpful. The feedback I got today indicates that they all got a lot out of outlining (2 sentences for each paragraph: What is this paragraph saying? What is it doing?) and also an exercise where they looked at the first and last sentences of each paragraph (transitions, cohesion). It is an Honors course, but I don't feel like my students are fundamentally different from the other students I've had in Writing or English classes. They still have problems with cohesion and organization; they still need to push their ideas; they need to invigorate their writing with active verbs.
It makes me laugh when politicians say that "throwing money" at education won't solve Any Problems. HA! Throw some money at me! Hire more teachers. Make classes smaller. Give teachers time to work one-on-one with their students. This won't solve Any Problems? Right.
Okay. I am putting my soapbox away now. It is time to read Son a book and tuck him into bed. Watch some "Law and Order." Go to sleep.
Novel Update: I got some good ideas about structure yesterday, which just reinforces my belief that I am always writing even when I outwardly appear to be doing something else (like watching TV or staring vacantly into space or doing dishes). Today I wrote 800 words. It's not the 1,000 words I aspire to, but at least it was for The Novel. Lately I've been writing other things and feeling like a Failed Novelist (not an elite club, I know). But I have some renewed hope. I'll probably dip into Bird by Bird again. She always makes me feel better. Gotta tune out KFKD!
And good night!