Tuesday, March 28, 2006

adventures in internal combustion...


argh! laaaaate posting....but before I get to internally combustable fun, I must vent for a few moments. Then my chakras will be re-aligned and I can move forth.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my HEL(L) days in more ways than one. I gave them back their midterms today and I was actually really proud of a full 95% of them - most of these kids studied their keisters off and I feel like their grades signalled to them (and me) that that kind of work pays off.

And then I put them in a coma with my lecture today. Granted - I was going over the high points of English history from before the Norman Conquest to 1362 and I was talking about the developing status of English during that time, but I'm not sure how much of it soaked in. The thing is (and maybe some of you have had this issue) that I've found that if I put lecture notes on the Blackboard, then they only show up to class so that they'll get their attendance counted - they won't bother to listen or take notes because they'll just get it off the class page...

So, what I told them today was that I was going to be fleshing out a lot of historical material as a prelude to our look at the structure of Middle English (material that they'd already been introduced to in the textbook might I add - this wasn't supposed to be new info) and that they needed to take good notes - I used the board constantly and told them that if any of them missed anything, etc. to please e-mail me or come by my office and I'd be happy to remind them exactly when Harold Harefoot seized the throne and what the "boeuf" was between him and William. I think that's fair...

I stay up until 2am preparing notes for this class and it seems to fall on largely deaf ears - but if I don't over-prepare, it will be even worse. One of my fantastic former students from a previous class (who is also in this one) said to me after class when he could tell I was frustrated: "we're not really giving you a lot, I know." I'm used to being a very enthusiastic teacher and my classes 8 semesters out of 10 are really engaged - this one I've dubbed "novacaine class."

So, at this point in time, I think I'm dealing with endurance - I've just got to make it to the finish line (May 9) and not expect any more from this class than I'm getting now. Also, the notes/handouts/study sheets I'm preparing now I will use every time I teach this course - next time it will hopefully fall on more enthusiastic ears and I will also be better at it - I will know the material already and it will be my second rather than first time teaching the course. I've varied my tactics enough for this class (making it more discussion based when possible; using overhead instead of board; lecturing for the hard stuff...) - that's it! This will still haunt me for the rest of the semester, though...does anyone else have anecdotes of novacaine classes they'd like to share? I'd be so happy to hear them...

BUT, the real reason I've been busy this evening is that we're buying a new car and we've been cruising the lots, test driving and then discussing haggling strategies over Whoppers at Burger King! We're finally getting rid of our 2 jalopies and we're going to get one new nice car that will take me, the Dutchman and the 2 furballs to Canada and beyond. We've decided on a 2005 Subaru Outback (pictured above) and I have to say it's a nice car.

We've been geekily going over our "game plan" for tomorrow morning (including a second test drive; skeptical raising of the eyebrows, and practice saying: "we're just not willing to pay that much.") I have not haggled for or purchased a car in 11 years and not only am I out of practice, but my name should be Medieval "Cave in Immediately" Woman. So, I'm no bloody help (I think this is a personal thing rather than a gender thing because my Mom is tough as nails about car bargaining). But the Dutchman will stick to our agreed upon price without sweating profusely or turning red so I'm sure we'll come out of there happy.

Wish us luck! vroom-vroom...

4 Comments:

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Bardiac said...

Outbacks seem to be the car of choice amongst my colleagues, especially the women. Several are on their second, and swear by them.

I hope you like yours as well!

(And seriously, heated seats. What a great invention!)

 
At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Laustic said...

Good luck!! After braving another winter here in the Great White North, I would almost anything for a car with 4-wheel drive.

As for novacaine diaries...I'd share the details of yesterday's class, but I've already repressed my memory of it.

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger Dr. Virago said...

My whole Old English and Middle English courses seem to be novacaine courses. And I'm sure that if I taught HEL, it would be, too. How *does* one make it sexy? I think it's also frustrating for me because I compare the experience to my lit. classes which are oh so much livlier.

So, I feel your pain.

 
At 11:31 AM, Blogger medieval woman said...

Thanks Dr. V - I too have much livlier discussions in my lit courses. I think it's also because HEL is the only linguistics course offered at my school - and am I a trained linguist? Nope...

 

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