The six week summer semester is intense. Add to that my personal intensity, and I have been racing through preparations for the first essay with record number of assignments. I always feel somewhat apprehensive, even in the full 16 week semester, about the first paper, since most students in the class have never written papers like this before, textual analysis about complex literary texts. I don't want them to learn by failing. Instead, I want to teach them the skills they need to know to write the paper, and then have them write it, having worked up to it step by step. But in 6 weeks, that means a lot of homework for them to do and for me to grade in a short amount of time.
With my dad needing to go to the ER and visits to see him, this is tough to pull off, especially if I am going to carry on my yoga and personal schedule. Several students in class today implored me to slow down a little, so I am going to try to do it. I will have more in-class assignments and fewer to do be done at home. But that was going to slow down anyhow after the first paper, as I told them. There will be more reading assignments and fewer written ones between papers, and I might consider making study questions extra-credit assignments rather than requirements, though that might mean the people who really need to do them won't, and those who don't will do them. It's their responsibility, after all.
In the second six-week semester, I'll try to pace myself a little, and see if this is more successful. But on the other hand, I have had several students tell me that the paraphrase exercises I have assigned have really helped, so maybe the class is working as I have planned.