Semester Crunch

Very busy weekend with little break time for the ol’ Zub. It’s been a mixture of marking assignments, refocusing projects, sleeping odd hours and feeling a bit under the weather.

End of the semester marking is crushing my brain. I wish I could lecture without actually having to assign grades to these assignments, like wonderful workshops without the stress and hassle of telling people they’re good or bad.

The strike time seems to have drained the get-up-and-go from many of the students. Even though it was an extended “break”, coming back to it and having our schedule thrown off has taken its toll. The work many are now handing in is sub par. It doesn’t seem to be a lack of knowledge for most of them, just a real lack of momentum at the finish line. The strong students are handing in good (not great) work and the weak students are almost all crash and burn-tastic. Their heads are already in summer break mode instead of making that crucial final quality push.

The last assignment of the semester that gets handed in this week could be an ugly one. I’ve been getting exchanges like this:

Student: “So Jim, how many full body poses are required for the last project?”

Zub: “You know that hand out I gave you? The one that tells you exactly what you need to hand in?”

Student: “Yeah.”

Zub: “Do you still have it?”

Student: “Yeah.”

Zub: “Then you should read it.”

*five minutes later*

Different Student: “So, do we need a soundtrack with our key frames for the hand-in?”

Zub: “You know that hand out I gave you? The one that tells you…”

*five minutes later*

Another Student: “Is it okay if I do one of my model sheet poses in color?”

Zub: “Well considering that’s part of the assignment, I did an extensive tutorial on it and it’s listed right on the project sheet as a hand-in component, I’d say ‘yes’ that’s a good idea.”

*five minutes later*

Yet Another Student: “Is it cool if I totally scrap my original concept that you already approved and do a new one without showing you any roughs at all?”

Zub: “Um, I wouldn’t advise that, no.”

Yet Another Student: “But this idea is better.”

Zub: “Yeah, but getting something finished and handed in properly is even better than a new concept.”

Yet Another Student: “Well I’m gonna go ahead with my new idea anyways because it inspires me.”

Zub: “Okay. You’re an adult. It’s your funeral.”

*five minutes later*

And Yet Another Student: “I did these 3 chicken scratch doodles here on the corner of some note paper… these ones right here that look worse than anything I’ve ever done for you before and also worse than about 80% of the portfolio submissions to get into the entire course. What do you think? Is this a good character concept? Can I go ahead to finals?

Zub: “Um, you probably want to show me something more substantial before you finalize that design, but considering that you’re showing me this the week before it’s due I guess you’ll be flying blind without any feedback from the guy who will be marking your assignment.”

And Yet Another Student: “Okay, cool.”

Zub: “Um, no… not cool.”

I remember the end of semester crunch and the remnants that were left of my brain when it was all said and done. I am trying to be empathetic to their plight and make myself available for them, I really am. It’s this weird mixture of advising, mentoring and giving them the ability to make their own choices, for better or for worse.

In any case, I have to be honest about their quality or I’m not doing them any favors in the long run. The strong students will endure and grow while the others will be in for a rude awakening and have to take stock as far as their personal drive and what they want out of their future in this course.

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