Friday, May 15, 2020

Not My Best Day

It's grading season right now, the least fun part of the teaching process.  It's nothing I can't do, but it's certainly not fun.  In a normal semester, I try to spread out assignments and projects throughout the semester, makes it easier for the students, who have all the work from my class and probably a lot of other stuff to do, and it especially piles up at the end of the semester. We have some stuff due at the end, and it's the last day to turn in things, so there will be some extra, but most of the points come from things due from week 1 to week 13, and there are late penalties to encourage them to get things done on time.

This is not a normal semester,  and we've been given orders to forget all deadlines short of the end of the semester.  I have let the students know this, even as I have encouraged them to get things done and in early, if for no other reason than to not have to deal with them in the last week, when they likely have things due for other classes, or exams to study for.  Some do, but most don't, resulting in an overwhelming number of emails coming in on our last day of class, most with attached files of art or papers to be graded.  I'm gradually working my way through that pile, filling in numbers on my scoresheets, and updating students on anything that got an individual grade. Actual semester grades aren't due until next week, so I think I'll make it.

Back in March, about the time the distance learning thing started, a new administrator was hired to help deal with the branch of the college that has a lot of the humanities, including art.  Have exchanged a few emails with her, but haven't met her yet as we've all been banned from campus since then.  Meanwhile, the school has mentioned all kinds of cutbacks will be coming, due to the covid situation.  Some shoes dropped today, with this administrator sending out a goodbye email early today- her position has been ended. Guess I won't be meeting her.  Continued with my grading process, including more e-mails to students, updates on their situations.

That got interrupted this afternoon by a phone call from Molly,  who I don't think I've actually spoken to since before Christmas.  I imagined she had to deal with having her kids at home, and the difficulty of finding art and teaching opportunities right now. The call was about a new problem- between yesterday and this morning, someone had broken into our Studio and ransacked the place.  Police were there, and if possible I should come in and answer questions, and learn what was going on. Well, I could delay my grading process a little, so I shut down the computer and got up there.

The space is always a mess anyway, but even worse now.  Whoever did this broke in through one of the windows, which are at ground level.  Didn't smash the window, just pried it open, mangling the track it slides in.  Once in the room, they pulled apart everything, I guess looking for good stuff to steal.  Being that we're just a couple of poor artists, there wasn't much there.

There was a big pile of stuff on the floor next to my work table, which I recognized as the contents of one of the tote bags I keep on my wooden studio chair.  My guess was that they took the bag to hold stuff they were stealing.  I haven't done the full inventory yet, but that appears to be the only thing of mine that was stolen.  My cutting tools are at home, my printings tools and inks are in my car, so not much to steal.

They must have been intrigued by my locked printing table, and pried open the doors to the inside, only to find nothing of value to them- just printing and hand tools.  Drawers and boxes were emptied onto tabletops, but nothing missing, including all the shirts that Molly was working on.

Nichole was there today, and said we'd be compensated for anything missing. If I find anything I'll let her know. No alarms went off, and it will take some time to check all the cameras. None are in the individual studios, but at one point they went down the hall and found a leaf blower to steal. The biggest problem for today was dealing with the open windows.  They used the one on the end, the only one we ever even try to open.  Usually we don't- they are hard to open, hard to close, and hard to lock and unlock.  Ground level from outside, but high up when you are inside. With a lot of effort, and Nichole outside and me and Bobby inside we managed to close up the wide open one.  Don't know if is locked, but it may not open again.  As a precaution, Bobby made a wooden brace that will keep it from being opened. One of our middle windows was just open a few inches, but no one was able to open it more or close it.  No doubt that Herb got the worst, cheapest windows available when these were put in- it was his way.   Well now the people who run the building know it, having had the experience of trying to use them. I cleared the floor of any of my stuff that was on it, and went home for the day.

Got back on my school email and saw another shoe had dropped.  As threatened, the school had cut a bunch of programs, though promising that any students currently enrolled would be allowed to complete their majors.  The surprise was that art wasn't one of them.  Not yet anyway, but the way they have dismantled the school of art in recent years (now not even a department, but a program), they may yet do so.  But for today we still have some classes.  So not my best day, but not my worst either.


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