Saturday, November 22, 2008

random after tutoring Friday thoughts

Yesterday the college was so hectic. I always forget that this time in the semester requires more patience than ever. I tutored 17 students on Wednesday, 10 on Thursday, and 13 on Friday. Weeks before this were about the same. I felt also that I didn't give as quality of tutoring sessions as I usually do--I only pointed out grammatical errors, refining a thesis statement, more creative titles--don't use the authors' titles--"it's not yours to use." On a good tutoring month, day, week, I usually, include a close look at logic--do the paragraphs go back to the thesis? Are they logical? Are there enough supporting examples and details? If non-literary, is there enough literary evidence to support topics? I was tired, grouchy (starting at about 2 p.m.) and rather lazy yesterday. Quality was so low. I think I ran out of mental energy after several students came in for a session on how to approach their final exams (the writing part--the blue book part). Really, I've been teaching them the same mundane, traditional structure throughout the semester--I advised to approach the final like that: Don't just start writing. Plan first. "But it's going to be an argumentative essay? and we don't know what topics she will give us," one student said. I suggested she ask if she needs to include a refutation (probably not); pick one of the two topics she can best write on. Take a stance, use "should be" or "should not be" followed by "because" and give three reasons why or why not. Build a thesis, the topics, restate thesis in conclusion. "And my introduction?" Open on topic, make general facts or statements, then move to specific (thesis). Somehow, all that I've said and all that -some- students learn throughout the semester, this mundane, formulaic, traditional way of writing a general, very basic essay doesn't hold. Just doesn't. This particular teacher is giving her students 2 hours. But sometimes, I think writing within a certain time frame causes panic and all they have learned goes.

Some days I feel like a big'ol flat voice of boilerplate, but then, by the grace of literature Gods, I will have a student pop in and want to discuss Oedipus and compare it to my favorite The Book of Job or an Asian myth comparison: a daughter must go into the depths of hell to find her mother to Demeter and Persephone or to Dante. These students come in so lively and full of -want-. And some of them will not even go on to major in English, but other disciplines like biology or construction engineering.

I'm 'brainstorming' to come with ways to make my sessions more interesting (for those who are there just to get through the literature requirements or just there to get through). I remind myself, "Hey, at least they're here--getting by."

I'm looking forward to the month of December off--my brain is a bit shut down. I can't think, write well, or blog without a zillion typos--of course I question 'to edit or not to edit'---not to mention the rush in posting. I always have to post on-the-go. But I get it done one way or another.

What would you choose? To blog full-time or to teach full-time? Money aside. Choose one or the in between.


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