Saturday 11 April 2015

Last Day (First Day on the Bike)

I've waited until the day after and there's still not much to say. I didn't see much point in reminding anyone on Friday that this was my last day in the classroom. I'd already agreed with my afternoon class that we'll meet for a beverage on the 24th, after their final exam. That'll be the farewell.
As for my colleagues, the same sweet souls who came to the launch the other night offered brief comments about this last day.
In the end, the end of the week was comedown from the peak of Tuesday night.
And who's got time to think about retirement. I wrote all day at the Globe.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Second Last Day

It's all sweetness and night now, earlier just the sweetness. My creative writing class and I--a mutual admiration society. (Cue the old, very old, lyric:
to a mu-tu-al
ad-mir-a-tion society,
my baby and me.)
I won't bother with the details, but for a while there I thought I might start to cry.
We were all feeling the peak of the launch/reading, at least I was. One of the students, at the after party the other night, had declared that yes, we have a bit of business to do on Thursday, but after that we'll play "Things In a Box". We had time for two rounds this morning. Everybody, I think, felt it as our last moments around the table. The minute class ends, we're all on to the next thing.
I'll read their stories this weekend and submit the final grades Monday.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Third Last Day

If I'm tired and the students are tired, forget it. We might as well be asleep on the concrete outside. Nothing said has any urgency. Nothing written down has life.
We read more poems. I raised the possibility that we could see or hear things new. For me, it happened in "Planet Earth" when the hand that writes takes over so briefly from the hand that irons and mends.
My second class today also fell flat. Accidental references to my full-page spread in last Wednesday's Leader-Post, which amused the class mightily last Thursday, failed to connect today. I brought in a red pencil that curved, the long prow of a narrow canoe. It never left the dock.
The worst part about the day in both classes was my inability to inspire engaged editing of the final drafts of their essays (as opposed to automatic reproduction of what they can already do when they write). Oh well. If they want it, they have enough inspiration to go on.
As for those stars of the launch/reading last night, I'm going to show up for class tomorrow morning pretending to be sour about the task of allocating up to 10 marks to each of them for their performance. Evoke the possibility of people getting, say, 6.5 out of 10. I'll go around the table. Everyone's got 10 out of 10 so far. But the next person might not.
Why play around like that? As a gesture of respect. To reinforce how fabulous they were at the event, and after.

Last Week, Day Two

I'd booked the launch/reading space for a rehearsal yesterday morning, before last night's event. Good idea, Gerry. We all got used to adjusting the mic and speaking into it. The students rehearsed their two minutes; I tried out the introductions and the tech. Everything seemed to work.
It turned out to be a swell night. The young writers delivered, the room looked great. I enjoyed offering bits of Hillsdale Book. The bookseller went home satisfied (72 people, 35 books sold). And the floral centerpieces--pussy willow, mini carnation--created by two of my many sisters (3) punctuated the round tables perfectly. As for the after party, I'm still feeling it.

Monday 6 April 2015

Last Week, Day One

The first class handed in 3rd drafts of essays, and we read poems as review for next Monday's final. My last kick at chestnuts like "Digging" and "how there in the plaid light" and "The Lilac poem" out of the new Wascana anthology Mike Trussler and Medrie Purdham edited. I hope re-reading these poems after working with them as long ago as three months will offer new revelations, which is the same hope I hold for the successive essay drafts.
I say we read poems but only I did. And I did 95% of the talking. Most of the time I would refuse to talk that much, but for last week, day one, I don't mind.
The other class also handed in drafts of essays. I'd scolded them last week for, as I think I mentioned before, not enough push in their writing.
If it doesn't cost you anything, I don't want to read it.

Thursday 2 April 2015

Last Two Weeks, Day 4

A colleague told me politely she wondered about the noise coming from my classroom this morning. "Something about grasshoppers," she said. That must have been during a round of Things in a Box, a game that requires us, in this case, to guess who mentioned the grasshoppers. Though I didn't get to the story of my mom during her own wedding ceremony in 1938 when a grasshopper jumped up under her dress--she had to hold it there with her gloved hand--I did speak of a bag of prewashed romaine which contained, I would soon find out (seeing it dead, coated in dressing, at the edge of my friend's dinner place) a hopper the size of a mouse.
Nothing too substantial was needed, in class today. They handed in short stories, draft 2. They can leave the stories for 5 days and come back to them, one more time.
We talked about the launch/reading. Someone doubted I meant it when I told them how much fun we'll have.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Last Two Weeks, Days 2-3

Two of my classes are writing personal essays, each with a revision process that involves handing in ever-longer and deeper pieces. If students comment on how hard they're finding the process of going deeper, I know they're where they should be. If they see this assignment as leaving alone the stuff I don't comment on and tacking on another page at the end, they're going through the motions.
Meanwhile, over in the creative writing class, second drafts of short stories are due tomorrow. This is the No Dread group, as in, they'll each be doing two minutes at the launch/reading on Tuesday night, and they'll be using a mic in front of anywhere from 15-75 people, and we're all (us, not the people) wearing something pink, but No Dread (which, after I'd written it on the board on Tuesday, someone converted to No Bread). Good times expected.