Friday, February 24, 2012

Yesterday my mother-in-law showed improvement, and there is now reason for cautious optimism. Bob has made four trips down there in the past week, and I have made two. We are becoming very familiar with central CT! (Nice state, btw. But one thing that is missing: Stewart's! That store chain has no peer that I've ever encountered.) But this weekend, we are staying put. Both of us, (but especially he) need rest. And, we have a couple things on the agenda.

Tomorrow, we are going to Washington County to see a beagle that is in a town shelter. She is small (14"), picked up as a stray, a young adult, unusual markings, sweet disposition. The animal control woman is calling her Anna! I took that as a sign since years ago, my niece Anna rescued a small female beagle from a town shelter. If we get her, we plan to name her Rose. I don't know the process town shelters use so I am not sure if we can bring her home tomorrow or if we will have to make two trips to spring her from doggie jail.

Sunday is his send-off Mass followed by the ceremony at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Really looking forward to that.

My classes are OK. That's nothing short of a miracle, considering how crappy '12 has been so far. The online class is especially good. Strange to have that section be my strongest class. However, I have only one that is troublesome, my Tuesday evening foundations class. It is also strange to have that be the worst class, since generally it is the best. It has been bothering me a lot, so yesterday I fired off this note to the students:

I’m sending you this note because I haven’t been too happy with what I perceive is a lack of engagement from about 1/4-1/3 of the students in class. This distresses me greatly because usually the Tuesday evening section of EEST 300 is a pleasure. Of course there are always a few students who are coasting, but the unusually large number of slackers and rather small class size makes it more apparent this Spring.

I want the remaining 2/3-3/4 of the students in class to know that this is not directed at you - there are some very fine and thoughtful class members who are intellectually alive and are clearly bright lights, but I have a feeling that since the class is small, eventually the disengaged will have a negative impact on the overall atmosphere (if it hasn’t already). Some past semesters I might have ignored it, and waited for the last day of class to arrive when I could joyously celebrate the end of the semester. However, this happens to be a particularly difficult semester for me personally, and frankly I don’t have the patience to put up with it until May.

The problem is particularly pronounced in Groups 2 and 3, and not as apparent (or not apparent at all) in Groups 1 and 4. I believe the lack of engagement in the former two groups is stemming from two things: 1) not doing the reading (and maybe not even owning the books) and 2) excessive text messaging. In both cases not all students in those groups are displaying lack of engagement, but it is clear to me that the more serious are being drained by their peers, and this is unfair.

I don’t want to single out students, so if this behavior describes you - now is the time to straighten up and fly right. Be prepared. Do the reading – bring your books to class – engage in the discussion, and put away your smart phones. If I don’t see an improvement, I am going to take a drastic action. I will scramble the groups and isolate all of the disengaged into one new group so that rather than ruining the lesson plan project and weekly discussions for your peers (and me) you can text to your heart’s content and sink together.

I believe it is not too late to salvage things. I hope you are paying attention. Thanks.

Then today, I received this note from administration. It is a copy of something that was sent to all students.

We have been informed by CDTA and by our own University bus drivers that the behavior of some of the students at the bus stops on Friday and Saturday evenings is approaching dangerous levels.

Rushing the buses in an attempt to board quickly not only places other students at risk, but causes the bus drivers to feel unsafe. Last weekend, a University bus door was broken by student

Some students are exiting University buses through the back or side emergency doors. It is unsafe to exit these doors unattended into traffic and it is a violation of NYS regulations to use these doors in a non-emergency. An accident with a parked car was a result of one of these actions.

he entrance and exit gate arms at the visitor’s parking lots on Collins Circle have been broken off repeatedly since the opening of these lots at the beginning of the fall semester. This is senseless vandalism.

Some students are entering the bus highly intoxicated and, if they get sick on the bus, the bus is taken out of circulation for the rest of the night.

It is in the interest of your safety that we provide bus transportation to and from campus late at night. We request your assistance in preventing such incidents at the bus stops - both on campus and downtown - so that we can continue to provide transportation services on Friday and Saturday nights.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sigh. Must be I have landed some of these misbehaving students in my class this semester. And I expect these fools to take their education seriously? Stay tuned.

Oh! I finally got my consulting $. What a nightmare, but yay. No legal remedy needed.

And finally, Tuesday a publisher is coming to pitch me the opportunity to write another text book. We'll see what happens.

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