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(isms always-already optional)

2/16/06 11:43 am - tyratae - progress report

(xp to c&a)

3 down, ? to go...

if i pass the 3 written exams i've turned in, all that's left between me & wandering around chicago with a curious lightness of step that i'd love to have protecting me from the cold while i get to say "i'm abd @ syracuse" whenever i introduce myself is an oral defense.

which could be a great-of-china-kind-of-wall or just a conversation; i don't really know how they do things here. i suppose sooner rather than later (::knocks on wood about that::) i'll find out. in the meantime, a few of my students hate me for having given them no feedback on their work in like weeks, and the rest of them are going to hate me as soon as i abruptly become one of those teachers who pays all kinds of attention to them, just when they were thinking they'd get to spend the whole semester texting each other on their phones in the lab under the gentle gaze of my negligence:

it's time to get back to my real work.

2/8/06 03:27 pm - tyratae - 2 down,

1 to go, & then (assuming i passed all 3, which is a big assumption to be making right now & not one i'd recommend, but feel free to perform any good luck rituals you can think of in my favor to tip that probability in the right direction) orals at some point the scheduling of which promises to be thoroughly complicated by "spring" break and 4Cs and THEN maybe i'll be done w/the exam-taking part & then i'll be able to start on--ah, shit, i'm supposed to write the conference papers BEFORE the conference! oh, yeah, & my students turned papers in over a week ago that i haven't looked at yet. but the take-home question is sitting in front of me & it's a heck of a paper to write, so it's once of those terrific moral choices--who do i neglect & sell short first, me, or them?


in understatement: this is totally unfun.

1/22/06 04:49 pm - tyratae - bravo for me.

today's post in the reading-note dumping-zone that's what's become of cinnaster:

300 laps, finis.

ask me today, & i'm done.

(there's 1 ERIC document still on my list that i haven't yet tried to ferret out of the library's microfilm collection, 1 book out on recall, & 1 book lost that illiad's supposed to be acquiring for me, but none of them are HERE. i have read everything that is here. all of it. OMG.)

300 is the ballpark # i told fellow study-for-comps-ers robotapocalypse & jason for how many pages of notes i was going to end up with for this project. 300 is today's page-count for the word file i backed up the notes from this blog into.

48 "books" in collaborative writing, 27 in authorship, & 27 in genre.


6-hour blind-entry exam is 10 days from today. a week after that, the 3-hour i'll have the question in advance for, & a week after that the 10-12 page take-home is due. sometime (undisclosed) after that the oral defense part, & while i'm prepping for that i'll be writing conference papers b/c oh yeah, CCCCs is in mid-march & it'll be mid-march by then.

11/30/05 09:00 am - west_wind - 2 Things

1. I have a student who has been notoriously late and unattentive (or is it inattentive?) in class all semester. When I say "inattentive" I mean there is body (and that is sort of a long shot) but not anything else. Said student has not submitted practically all of the daily assignments this semester, has not turned in papers on time, and all of the papers that have been turned in have been Fs. When I've gone to comment on drafts, this student never had a draft complete enough to receive valuable feedback. All of this leads up to the fact that this student has informed me of a close friend's death, and the student is planning to turn in a late paper, thinking the death will excuse its tardiness. This is tough for me, because I really do try to be sensitive to the personal experiences that these students go through in what have to be some highly tumultuous years of their lives. But we've been working on this paper for a long time; some students turned theirs in before Break.

I am planning to remain consistent with my policy and take the warranted ten points off every day that it is late. Am I being too harsh? Am I not being understanding? Knowing that the student is probably not going to do well on this assignment anyway and that the grades as a whole are already very low, should I be more flexible?

I think, as the years go by, I am valuing consistency more and more. And I am willing to work with students who contact me right away with personal problems (and that is stated in the syllabus). But this student is informing me after-the-fact.

These decisions are so tough. I'll be so glad when the semester is over.

2. Speaking of being glad when the semester is over....

Ever have a student who you suspect is plagiarizing, but you can't find an original source on the web or in the library?

Have you ever checked out EVE2? -- The Essay Verification Engine. I'm seriously considering spending the $30 and getting myself a copy. If anyone else has used this software, I would love to hear if it was something you would recommend.

Here's my philosophy on trying to grade a paper when you suspect that the student didn't write it: It's like someone forcing you to eat shit and pretend that it's cake. And then making you say "yum yum" while you eat it.

11/2/05 12:13 pm - tyratae - time to step up with the drinking?

read (okay, skim, reading what's bold-faced & whatever else you need for context, unless you really have the time to care) this and then tell me how/why our jobs, goals, wishes, dreams, etc. in this field and for our students are still worthwhile?

i'm not trying to bring everybody down here. i need some ways to protest. this makes too much sense to me. of course, all truly downer-versions of history/reality always do. it's easy to buy into a "things fall apart" mentality that overlooks all the things that aren't falling.

i'm going to go grade some summaries now, & urge my students to produce "more detail, more examples, more thought," and i'm going to do it with a yet-lingering belief that "these efforts" are NOT "rhetorically meaningless," but that's just stubbornness right now. Williams makes too damn much sense that i don't want to hear.

who's gonna take him down?

10/13/05 12:29 pm - tyratae - one day i will learn

to be more of a hard-ass and give students who do not put the effort in fewer chances to play catch-up and make my life a logistical nightmare, to let the consequences of inaction fall of the shoulders of the inactive rather than on my own, to just hand out "F"s for work not done, to follow the deadline-speech with a genuine disinterest in the excuses and the crises and the meltdowns and all the many many reasons why.

in the meantime, though, i'll keep arguing against that eventuality. because every time i lay the smack-down down instead of bending a little further, stretching another "dead"line (lukewarm wavy mark?), making another allowance, facilitating another do-over, an opportunity for learning is lost. and i want to think of myself as a teacher, not a police-officer, an enforcer, a disciplinarian. sure, it would be easier to teach the rest of them if the slackers had a little damn discipline, & somebody has to teach it to them, but i'm supposed to teach all of them. and i was hired to teach them writing, not responsibility. and when i say "no" and shut the door, they have no reason to write. when i say "oh, all right" and yield yet again, they write for me. they write. they learn more about writing.

that's my job.

8/17/05 11:02 am - tyratae - first-day jitters (this is for sarah)

i don't get them. i love students, classrooms, new people to engage with. i'm a little worried about the usual stupid stuff--it'll be the wrong room after all, i won't be able to find where i'm supposed to be, the copier will explode at the last minute & i'll be without syllabi--but thinking about walking into the rooms & facing the rows of faces i'll have to cajole & inspire & entertain all semester... nothing.

here's why:

my first-year teaching experience was as a sixth grade teacher in a middle school in southern virginia. on the first day of class, the seventh & eighth graders, who presumably knew their way around already, went to homeroom to get started, and all of the sixth-grade students coming out of 4 or 5 local elementary schools who had never been in a place this huge before in their little small-town lives were herded into the auditorium, where the teachers sat in the front row, facing the stage, not the students. we had not seen class lists. they had not seen names. none of us knew anything. the principal walked onto the stage, made some speech about a new school & a new year & new opportunities, recounted a few rules, and then one by one called each teacher to stand while he read off the names of 25 eleven-year-olds who, embarrassed at hearing their names (sometimes mangled) so loud in the huge hall, had to stand shyly and make their way out of the seating rows down to where this stranger stood. when all 25 were assembled, the teacher led them away like a row of ducks & he called the next one of us to stand.

when i led them to my room--this flurry of little people whose names of course i hadn't caught in the long, echoey reading of the list--i had not 55 minutes but approximately 5 hours of new time to fill with introductory activities and getting-to-know-you games. we'd planned things, of course--my "team" teacher in the next room had some 40+ years of experience at this and had generously shared everything she had with me, but i was nervous, they were nervous, i was trying to act both calming to the ones who were terrified & wanted to cry and in charge to the ones who had a whole group of friends in the room & weren't phased at all by my make-believe adult-status. i was 22, and some of them were taller than me.

after we'd managed the 5 hours--which included taking them on bathroom trips because they didn't know where it was, leading them to the cafeteria and eating with them, one of the school's practices that lasted all year, so there were no breaks in the continuity of 11-year-olds throughout the day, and leading them to their PE or arts classes at the end of my time with them (to a part of the building i'd never actually been in either), i had a few hours back in the classroom to straighten up, fill in the bulletin board i'd left blank with the art they'd created that day, put their names on the desks they'd been sitting in, since i hadn't known their names to do it in advance, wring my hands a little, and eat a peanut butter sandwich before all of their parents arrived.

in this particular county, "back to school night" was always held on the first day of school. so i spent several hours that evening meeting and greeting parents whose names weren't yet in any way familiar, whom i only sometimes managed to successfully match to the children i'd seen earlier in the day (who didn't come back to make the matching feasible), showing them around the room & trying for all in the world to act like i had any idea what i was doing. i was 22, & couldn't have projected "just out of college and clueless" any harder if i'd tried, and they pressed worries on me: michelle needs to sit by the door in case there's a bee. you're not allowed to keep epi-pens in the room, but if she gets stung, she'll die. matt's concerned about his weight so don't let the other kids pick on him. sherri wants to wear makeup but she's not allowed so call me if she's borrowed it from a friend. nicole must be allowed to go to the bathroom whenever she wants because she's started her period, and by the way she must succeed because she's going to college. chris isn't in GT because the testers are idiots, but he should be and i expect him to be challenged; did i mention i'm on the school board? because my "team" teacher and i had decided to make the kids' lives less confusing by only introducing them to one room and one teacher the first day, but the parents, reasonably, wanted to meet both teachers their children would be working with, half of these parents were the parents of kids i hadn't even met yet.

i'd just come from a middle-school ed program where, among the many incredibly valuable lessons we learned, we also had to return to those double-lined handwriting books to re-teach ourselves perfect school cursive to model for our students, and we had to learn to do it unslantingly on the blackboard. along with the parents came the special ed advisors, who let me know what changes i had to make in how i conducted a class i'd hardly begun to account for the needs of their students who were mainstreamed into my room; david couldn't read cursive, so i was only to print on the board.

i left the school at 9:30 or 10 that night, knowing i had some serious planning and re-planning to do before i had to be back at 7 in the morning for bus duty, that i had to be back at 7 for meetings or planning or photocopying or bus duty every day but holidays until the following june. it was still august, and the sun still set pretty late, although it was dark by the time i pulled down the drive.

now, i'm facing a room full of adults, for a little over an hour, whom i'll be seeing exactly 28 times between now & christmas, & then most of them will never stop by again. my sixth graders lost salamanders in the aquarium, threw up in the trash can, bled on the floor, slammed doors, screamed in my face, cried, hit each other, mocked me, mocked each other, and in theory learned a lot along the way, although i'd be hard-pressed to prove it. although i loved every one of them (okay, except for the one i'm sure is going to be caught-out as a serial killer somewhere down the line) they wore me out and made me cry at least once a week--at least the weeks i wasn't crying because i'd done something stupid & gotten in trouble with the administration instead.

so this? yeah, it's work, & i put an awful lot in, & i care more than my students want to know & more than the bitter ones ever believe, but after middle school... (did i tell you about the kid, when i was subbing, who kept alternating between being out of my class because he was in juvie and chasing me around the room with scissors when he was back, trying to cut my hair, which i finally allowed rather than calling the office for help because i was trying to keep him out of juvie? or the 12-year-old who, with world-weary eyes, offered me sage advice about how boys who weren't mature enough to handle eye-contact really weren't ready for sex?) ...this stuff is nothing!

7/29/05 09:06 am - west_wind - Paralogic rhetoric

I just finished Thomas Kent's Paralogic Rhetoric. I'm getting ready to post a summary of it over in librisnerd (once I summarize it in my Endnote program and then copy and paste that to word -- how weird am I?) but thought I would put in a couple cents over here. I like the way Kent is trying to decenter rhetoric and composition, the way he asserts that it is not as codifiable as Plato and Aristotle would have had us believe, the way he makes room for thoughts that step outside of or beyond strictly logical and rational paradigms. But then, he posits his own counter-theory. Nothing about rhetoric is codifiable or systematic; everything boils down to "hermeneutic guessing" and what Donald Davidson calls "triangulation." What this means is that we are constantly making interpretive guesses as to what we think others think and understand and that this affects how we "do things in the world." Ultimately, we have to communicate in ways that align with how others hermeneutically operate if we want to communicate successfully. So my question is, how is this not systematic? He says that we can never predict what another person will think or say but that we can come close to predicting these things by applying elements of Bakhtin's genre theory and by employing other hermeneutical tactics (of which he never goes into much detail). See, a lot of that sounds somewhat systematic and codifiable to me.

Kent speaks of Davidson's "coherence theory of truth," which is when "sentences can only be evaluated according to the degree to which the claims they make cohere to the beliefs most of us already share about the world" (69). Kent goes on to refer to our need to create "coherence strategies" to aid our hermeneutic guessing. Again, it seems like coherence strategies create systems for which we would go about making our "guesses." Kent cites Rorty throughout his text, and I found it odd that Kent doesn't discuss Rorty's theories of normal and abnornal discourse at all in this text, because the idea of coherence strategies seem to tie in quite a bit with those types of discourse. Kent says that when one wants to posit something "strange," one needs to use stronger coherence strategies, and it was at that point that I thought about how that doesn't really leave any room for abnormal discourse, or maybe it just exemplifies how much more someone who wanted to speak "abnormally" would have to phrase her or his ideas in a "normal" way.

Ultimately, I don't think Kent's theory of paralogic rhetoric really leaves enough room for people who want to speak in ways that oppose forms of "typical" or "normal" communication. In a sense, I think what he is saying does apply to academic writing and to all forms of communication on some level. I mean, it does make sense: when we communicate we end up guessing as to how our audience is going to best receive our message. I don't disagree with that. I just think that that theory doesn't address all of the people who aren't even in the game, who don't get a chance to guess, who wouldn't know the first place to begin guessing, or who have been speaking all this time and haven't been being heard because the don't have the proper "coherence strategy."

Maybe the purpose of his book is to get people to start thinking in this next direction. But for me, in this book, he contradicts himself by presenting his own codifiable, systematic approach, and he doesn't take his ideas far enough in considering their possible ramifications. Finally, I was disappointed in his suggestions for pedagogical applications. Once one sifts through the redundant information, all he really suggests is that the teacher change his or her label to "mentor," and that instead of trying to teach any kind of system for writing, the "mentor" instead just offer advice on how to guess correctly for the corresponding genre of communication. That just wasn't enough for me.

So this is where I stand with this text. I would certainly be interested in hearing anyone else's thoughts on this text.

7/26/05 10:36 am - pooh_gal - Calling all composition teachers...

Here's a little gem at 43 Folders.

Follow the link - it's interesting.

7/25/05 04:13 pm - tyratae - start bailing

if anybody's got a bailer, that is. at the moment, i'm sort of of the opinion that anyone who tries is more than a little crazy.

(why i don't want to be a phd student anymore)
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