THIS WEEK IN TEACHING:
A student writing a cause-and-effect essay wanted to know if it would be a good idea to argue that in severe cases, suicide can even lead to depression, and no fewer than THREE people who emailed me doctors' notes telling them to stay home and self-isolate for the rest of this week have asked me if I will meet with them in-person, ALSO this week, to discuss the fact that they will be missing class because they aren't supposed to be around people.
I performed further investigations into the depressing suicide problem:
I'm not sure the student even now understands why I thought this was an important avenue of inquiry to pursue.
I still don't doubt that it was important, but I'm beginning to have serious questions about whether it was useful.
Just for the record, I haven't got up the nerve yet to ask the three OTHER people wtf they think I am if I am not a person.
[if i don't add a photo of something other than a screenshot, wix will fuss at me for my lax seo technique]
In (maybe-happier?) news: Having proven totally unsuccessful at convincing my Basic English students that synthesizing the results from a Google Search was not an appropriate strategy for drafting their responses to a personal reflection paragraph assignment, I resorted this evening to requiring that they put away all digital devices and answer the damn prompts on paper, with pen or pencil.
They were weirdly embarrassed about their basically-fine handwriting, and extremely nervous about the quality of their responses, which were no worse than the ones I'm used to seeing from other students in similar courses.
The group is composed almost entirely of international students, all of them having arrived only in the two weeks before classes began in August, and they tend to read into assignments rather different expectations than their estadounidenses peers (for one thing, they are transparently bewildered by the deep resentment toward "grammar" that their textbook, the default required for this course, plainly expects incoming students to hold).
So tonight we had a chat about how the goal of most of the writing assignments I am giving them is not determining whether they have digested appropriate content and can give me the "right" answer when I ask them to think about X topic and then write a paragraph about the same; rather, the assignments are very carefully structured to force them to create unique and novel sentences in order to develop their communicative competence (not their explicit knowledge of English grammar "rules," which most of them can recite at will).
I think I got through –– they were nodding a lot, and not just the South Asian side-to-side head wobble that always reminds me of "sí sí sí sí no no sí" (whether that is anywhere close to accurate remains to be seen –– if you use the head wobble, please weigh in and let me know your thoughts!).