May 29, 2012

Beyond Finals

It's weird how I feel somehow bad that I haven't posted much in the past year--as though I haven't contributed my two cents to the blogosphere--which I guess I technically haven't--and I wouldn't say the world is any worse off for it.

My last post, lamenting the agonies of finals and the lust for expensive products made by Apple was pleasing at the time. Now, however, I think I have a few more interesting (and less expensive) things to write about. By the way, I'm writing this on my hefty Dell, which is still working...

So I survived Finals, if not with a few deeper lines in my forehead and a few more red lines showing in my eyes. I successfully completed my first year of grad school with a 4.0 GPA (I would expect nothing less). Many of my colleagues did the same--and this is the reason I love grad school so much. So many motivated and intelligent people working together. Compared with my undersgraduate coursework, in this Master's program, feel much more accomplished. I think many grad students have the experience that it is the students who run grad courses by contributing thoguhts and summaries of the textbooks and articles choosen by thte professor. It's more pressure, but more rewarding for those, who, like me, are willing to put in the extra effort (i.e. reading time). I will say that modesty may not be the virtue of my blog.

As though finals were not enough, I also finished up ENG 105. Toward the end of a hard day of grading, I had to call my Grandpa for some advice. I lamented the poor students, the no-shows, the good-students-gone-bad. I complained (as you might guess from the way I write) about almost every aspect of teaching. My Grandpa listened patientiently and diagnosed me as a novice teacher. You'll toughen up, he said. It's hard to give out unlikeable grades to kids you like. Teachers, especially at the beginning, want everyone to succeed, and take it very personally when some students don't make it. Stick to the standards. Use your rubric. Give them the grade they earned. That's your job. They might not be successful in your class, but that's ok. As a long-time teacher, administrator, and coach, my Grandpa is a good mentor for a novice like me. After talking with him, I felt ready to dole out final grades, difficult as it was to know that I might have the power to end someone's student visa.

The sharp drop-off of activity since finals caught me off guard. My boyfriend has moved in for the summer--which is a huge change from our nightly telephone calls. I think I drove him a little nuts the first few days because I wanted to stay so busy. We painted a few rooms in my apartment and drove all over town looking for a new dining room table. We also drove all over town trying to find him some temporary employment. I think I've blogged several times about how tough it is to get temporary employment. It's the same story here in Flagstaff. He must have filled out 20 applications in one week. We've been scouring the city for possibilities, but no luck yet.

The highlight of the summer so far was the solar eclipse. If you are an astronomy junkie, or if you listen to NPR, you might know that last Sunday, there was a total eclipse of the sun, visible in the US southwest, along a line passing very near the Grand Canyon. I had been eager to get our of Flagstaff for a day trip somewhere, so I decided that we should make an event out of this eclipse. We bought special eclipse glasses and drove up to Page, AZ, hoping for an optimal view. By chance we happened upon a dusty desert hiking trail  that had perfect views of the expanses of land around Page. We got to watch the moon slowly eat away the sun for nearly an hour before all that remained was a thin ring of fire. It was a very bizarre experience because the sky didn't actually darken as I thought it might, but it did seem to cool off by about 20 degrees once the moon blocked the sun. It's a rare event to have a total eclipse slide through your backyard, so I'm thrilled that we made a fun day out of it.

Okay, I feel better about my cyber contributions for this month. Tomorrow I start my summer gig at the Program in Intensive English. I forecast some interesting posts in the near future...