One foot firmly on the threshhold, packing up

Posted: April 10, 2008 in Futurism, meta, Pedagogy

I’m very nearly finished my thesis. I achieved the non-content goals (4 pages of citations, more than 40 pages of text) without problem, and I believe I’ve answered all (or most) of the comments I was given on an older draft. Point is, I’m feeling like it’s almost over. The End is Nigh! but in a good way.

I also just finished helping a former student with a paper that her older sister wrote. While I did it, I wondered what the hell I was doing. After all, this girl whose paper I looked at isn’t my student, never was, and never will be. Did I do it just to procrastinate? I have, after all, finished grading the first set of research papers I’ve been given (including a few rewrites already), and I’ve read everything that the blogs I procrastinate on have to offer. So maybe that’s what I was doing… though I must say, I procrastinate very differently than most (after all, this procrastination came AFTER I did all the heavy lifting work on the thesis).

But part way through, I realized why I was doing it. I was doing it because I love to teach. I realized this as I passed the pencil to my former student and made her go through the second half of this (abysmal) paper her older sister wrote. She read it line by line, finding the mistakes herself so she could point them out to her sister later. I was there with her, holding her hand (metaphorically) and acting as a safety net to help her with things she couldn’t catch or didn’t know how to fix. But primarily, I used it as an opportunity to teach her how to peer edit; or rather, to reinforce the lesson I taught her last semester.

So I don’t think it’s procrastination. But I do think that it was a reminder that I’ve had one foot out the door for a while now. Senioritis struck me with a near lethal dose; I’ve been accepted to a new program, I’m mentally moving there already (even applied for a half time appointment at the writing center in addition to my teaching load). I have taken all the classes I am going to take here (and pulled a 4.0 while I was at it), and the only credits I have are my thesis. So once it’s done, so am I.

But there’s three whole weeks of semester after the thesis, and I have students who are trusting me to teach them what they need to know to succeed as college writers (at least the basics).

There were a couple weeks where I kind of felt like I was phoning it in. I answered questions and I went over things I thought were important, but I let them sit there in silence. I let my students let me lecture. Never mind the fact that I like the sound of my own voice; I don’t want to be that kind of teacher. I’ve got time to change, and I’ve started already, pointing out parallels that I subconsciously set up (like talking about Cask of Amontillado and Frailty on the same day–great parallels there that I didn’t even think of) and basically making them talk. They don’t need me to explain as much as I am. They need me to make them explain to each other. I can’t just accept “I didn’t get it” anymore.

So, as the topic suggests, I’m planting my foot firmly on the threshold, not out the door. I may be so close I can taste it, but I need to remember that there is a difference between ‘close’ and ‘there.’ Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades*.

*I take umbrage to this saying. Close is also significant in nuclear war, biological and chemical warfare, and global killers. I mean, it DOES count if an asteroid misses us by a close margin; if it’s big enough, that nearness can still cause problems. If another star moved through our system, or even came close to it, it would disrupt everything. Close counts in a LOT of things. But I guess I understand; it’s only a snappy saying if it’s short. I suppose I should chalk this up to my pet peeves in language, like “what’s the worst that could happen” or “not to mention.”

Anyway, I feel like I complained in this entry. I hope it didn’t come off that way. I’ll get back into more intelligent content as soon as the thesis is deposited. I promise.

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