Monday, March 4, 2013

Oh Students, You Confuse Me So

So I used to do a very bad thing--I used to post particularly "brilliant" assertions from student papers on Facebook.  I'd never give any information about the student's identity and I have always been very careful about both my privacy settings and the residency restrictions of my friends list, but a colleague sent me a message making several excellent points about the unwise-ness of continuing to post student gems, so I stopped.  I made a vow to no longer post direct quotes from student work and I have (for the most part) kept that vow.

That whole "in lame man's terms" line was too hard to resist. source.

I did not, however, make a vow to not vent about more general issues or issues that I can bitch about without the use of direct quotes.

In the past 24 hours, I have dealt with two particularly vexing situations.

First, I received an e-mail from one of my favorite students (if you don't think teachers have favorites, then you've probably never been one) alerting me of said student's impending withdrawal from my course.  The reasoning? My GPA is good and I can't afford a C.  We're in the 7th week of class . . . out of 16; I haven't even ASSIGNED 60% of the final grade.  And the bitch of it all?  Me giving a 70 as the default lowest grade for a paper IS MY NEW WAY OF TRYING TO BE A NICER TEACHER. (Exceptions are made for truly terrible work, so don't think I'd give the kid who wrote a 2 sentence "paper" a 70.)  My old default for way-to-not-follow-the-prompt-and-prove-your-argument-that-I-assume-you-have-despite-your-lack-of-a-thesis papers was a 65 TOPS.  That's right, D's for everyone!

Don't worry children; there's enough failure for all of you! source

Truth?  I'm think you just weren't willing to put in the time and effort, kid--and that's okay because that's your choice. But you could have at least been fucking honest about it instead of hiding behind your GPA.

I got that student's message the night before class--complete with the information that the student would not be in class the next day because the student would instead be visiting the registrar to drop the course.  I went to bed bummed, and questioning and second-guessing myself.  I woke up the next morning bummed, and questioning and second-guessing myself.  I went to school . . . well, let's just say I wasn't bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and bursting with confidence.

Ah, the breakfast of dreary-eyed, thin-tailed, fearful champions. source

As students began to wander in, I prepped the super awesome lesson over shit I don't understand. (I swear that textbook chapter belongs in an ACTUAL logic course as opposed to an English course--I think my students can still be successful in this class without knowing the difference between logical conclusions being contrary and contradictory and what the fuck a disjunction is.)

The second vexing situation interrupted my prepping.

I noticed a student was standing in front of my desk, so I looked up . . . and saw a face I had not seen in a MONTH.  Yes, month as in four weeks or 12 class periods.  Did I already mention that we're in week 7 right now?  Now, I'm not a math major or anything, but I'm pretty sure that means that student has missed OVER HALF of the course--which includes three papers, several lab grades, and NUMEROUS daily grades.

And the beatings--we must not forget the beatings. source
I had previously e-mailed this student after 2 weeks of absences had passed.  (Note: I had to initiate contact, ME.)  Almost a week later I received a reply, the student apprised me of the situation, and then the student promised to be back in class on Monday. That particular Monday was a week ago.  I had pretty much written the student off . . . and then HERE THE STUDENT IS, YAY!  No contact other than when I initiated it, no attempt to turn in any work during that month long sabbatical (and a VAST majority of my assignments are REQUIRED to be turned in online, so not actually being in class makes no difference), and seemingly no clue about how much was missed.  And while I strongly recommended the student consider dropping, that kid was determined.  So now the student has a week to try to make up whatever possible (save for daily grades).  Why?  Because I'm soft and stupid and was caught in a weak moment on a shitty day.

A shitty abstract day on which I cried blood . . . but we all have those.  source

To sum up, the student who had a good chance of making at least a B dropped (and yes, I told the student that in reply to the "I'm gonna drop" message, but fuck if I know if the kid even saw it before skipping down to the registrar), and the student who has pretty much a snowball's chance in hell of making anything other than a D or F won't gracefully admit defeat and GTFO.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that today's student most definitely does NOT know when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em.

Or how to deal a legal hand. source

1 comment:

  1. Neither of these students is worth a single effing moment of your time. Period. For most of the last two years, I have driven myself crazy trying to care to this degree about all 100 students I teach each semester. I have finally started doing what my boss advised: my effort on a student's behalf will be exactly as miniscule as his or her effort in my course.