How To Be A Witch

Glenda the Good
Glenda the Good

Halloween’s coming and with it, signs of spooks, specters, and ghosts – including witches. Actually witches are with us all year as it’s 1) a practicing religion and 2) an Old English term meaning wise woman. Yes, there are many of us out there and striving to be wiser every day. So here are some helpful tips on how to be a witch.

This past week I revised my grading rubric to be tougher. I know – mean, right? Well, not exactly. I had actually revised it several semesters ago for another class, but not the one I’m teaching now.

I’m deliberately being a total witch! When I have a simple category for grammar errors, I tend to knock some points off, but the temptation to be nice is too strong. I never knock off the full amount and letter grades never change. So I’ve learned I have to allocate points for every item that needs to be checked. Students get dinged for each type of error, so their grade actually reflects the caliber of their work.

This way we both avoid the optimistic, hope-it’s-good-enough approach to proofreading. In real life, proofreading counts. Believe me, students are much better off learning this from me instead of as their 1st boss shows them the door!

The Wicked Witch of the East
The Wicked Witch of the East

Last week, I also got an unexpected offer from a friend to help clean out the flowerbeds. Considering they ring the back yard and largely got away from me, this was incredibly generous! And she did a fabulous job – except for one corner. That one she skipped because there were bees and she’s allergic.

Now as it runs out, the flying critters are actually papers wasps and they’re largely harmless. But to point this out would be a witch with a capital B! One flowerbed won’t kill me and anaphylactic shock is nothing to take chances on. Life’s full of petty irritations from bad drivers to no parking, but the wise woman pays attention to the gain, not the deterrent. Nearly 70 feet of flowerbeds now ready for mulch!

all illustrations are by Jonathan R. Neill from the Oz stories, early 1900s

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