Sunday, August 16, 2020

Yesterday’s treat was a zoom-party for a bro who turns 65 today. Odd to write that, “65,” as it seems a big number. As I’m the youngest of the five siblings in our family, all the ‘numbers’ of my sibs seem big, I suppose, and really always have. Cliched those it is, it truly does seem that these are just numbers, and not states of mind or condition.

For sure, each of us has and is mellowing in our own ways; and there’s a distinct slowing down to be observed among a few–one is a little concerning, the other i find welcoming. This is the process of life, isn’t it? They each seem no less vital than ever, it’s perhaps just the level of animation that’s less obvious. In truth, I don’t detect those changes in phone conversations; perhaps only in settings where the visual is so important and, more key, the ability to hear from a computer speaker a few feet away is not ideal. So, the zoom session was very welcome–amazing to see nieces Kyla (and hubby John), E-J, nephew Michael, the next generation (Owen, Mia) and, of course my sibs and two sis-in-laws. So very glad that big sis Martha set that up.
Got a call from a colleague yesterday morning, frustrated that his ear-training course was at its maximum cap for the room/safety (actually higher than the cap we use for teaching those classes ideally) and that a new student was being added to the group.  He protested; pushback.  He said he did not feel safe; pushback.  He sent a picture of the class’s occupancy sign (noting also that the occupancy was to be exceeded with the addition of another student), and perhaps there might be action, as there was now just silence. No news, though.

At 6pm yesterday he texted that one of the students informed him that he had symptoms, had been tested, was being asked to quarantine. And so it goes…

And the latest news on COVID-at-colleges…
Things with teaching have truly been surprising.  From my end, all’s gone surprisingly smooth in the theory class, the e-music class, comp lessons, and the first of the weekly comp Colloquiua.  But I’m also aware that it’s a bit like “writing for a computer,” in that things may seem just fine from the perspective of the little hovel I’m in; those on the other end of this pipe may feel very differently, indeed.

Yesterday/Saturday found a pretty steady stream of counterpoint submissions coming in.  I used the system’s easy grading/markup system to make comments, return the papers, extend deadlines for them to resubmit for higher grade, if interested, etc.  About 5 of the 17 students were very actively engaged in this process.  And the constant back-and-forth with them has extended the teaching into what amount to ongoing tutoring sessions, which they clearly like, and I really don’t mind, at all. It feels very hands-on productive teaching, and if that helps them succeed or feel more secure with the materials coming at them at light-speed, I’m absolutely fine with that.

The other students?  I don’t know if they’re just prioritizing other responsibilities, or are overwhelmed by the feedback coming at them quickly, or just need to breathe after a very intense first week.  We’ll see as week two develops. I am definitely concerned with two of them, but we’ll soon see what’s up with them.

I will finish up the 5th Species/Florid videos today, then all of our Species Counterpoint will be online.  In truth, during a typical semester I spend 4+ weeks on this stuff.  This semester, I’m really putting the entirely of Species Counterpoint online for them to do via video lessons, assignments and my feedback to those assignments followed by resubmits.  I’ve had to condense it so much in terms of time that I’m only asking for one homework assignment per species—when typically I have three.

I was looking forward to a weekend of writing and yard work (edging, rebuilding a fence-gate broken by Isaias), but we’re having intermittent downpours all weekend, it seems, so really just working on school…

Am questioning the balance with how much to be available for the students.  This 7.5 week sprint for the frosh, who’re so stressed about so many legitimate concerns (COVID-19, health/safety steps being observed around them, wifi outages) in addition to the normal ones of an 18-year old frosh away from home for the first time (homesickness, making friends, roommates, courses and homework, etc.), has led me to think that I’m really just going to suck it up until September 28 (1st term’s Final Exam) and give them every moment they ask for.    Honestly, I just feel so horrible for these frosh, and I really don’t know how they’re going to get through this in a healthy way.  After that, and until November 17 (end of semester) I can cruise on the much easier 15-week e-music, comp stuff I’m teaching for upperclass students.

On to prepping for that final video…