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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The excuses

"I couldn't turn the paper in on time; I was sick!"
"I didn't turn in those assignments because I needed them to write the paper!"
"I couldn't upload the paper to Turnitin because I didn't have internet access at home!"
"I couldn't upload the paper to Turnitin because I fell asleep, and when I woke up, it was after the deadline!"
"I know I'm not turning in the reading responses, but English isn't my first language, so I'm having a really hard time with the readings--but now I have the audio books..."
"I know I'm not turning in the reading responses, but I ordered the book weeks ago and I still haven't gotten it, and it isn't in the library..."
"I didn't upload the revision to Turnitin because I thought the second one I turned in really counted as the first one, since the first one really wasn't finished."
"I have the paper finished except for the last page; can I give it to you tomorrow without a late penalty? I can give you the whole thing now except the last page...."
"I have the whole paper except the works cited page; can I just upload the one with the works cited page to Turnitin and give you the hard copy without the works cited page?"
"I can't withdraw from this class: it's the last thing I need in order to get my associate's degree! I know I haven't turned in any work for two months, but I need to pass this class!"
"I can't withdraw from this class: I'll lose my financial aid!"
"I can't withdraw from this class, and I can't get anything less than a C: my parents will kill me!"
"I know I've missed a lot of classes, but my boss has had me working overtime. I just cut back on my hours, and I promise I can make up all the work I've missed for the past two months...."
"This class is the only reason I'm here this semester! If I withdraw now, I'll have just wasted all that money!"

(Deep, cleansing breath. Inhale slowly, and exhale. Breathe. Breathe.)

Today it was a student in M&D. I've been telling him since about the third week of classes that he wasn't going to make it. He has not handed in a single reading response since October 6th, I think--and he was trying to tell me that he had to keep them so he could write the revision of the first paper, and the second paper... No. Sorry. You have to turn them in to me first; then you can get them back to work on those papers. Or you can keep the one immediately before a paper is due. But you can't keep assignments for two months because you're "working on the papers" and then turn them in to me. He kept trying to find a way to bargain around it, and I kept saying, "You're out of time. The math won't work in your favor. You have to withdraw, or you will fail." He was one of the "this is the last class I need for my associate's degree; I'm only here because of this one class, and I've already applied to the school I want to transfer into for the spring" crowd. So I said, "Well, then you tell them you'll have completed everything except this one class." He didn't get angry (or not visibly, noticeably angry at any rate). He tried every bargaining chip he could think of, but finally he just accepted that I wasn't going to budge, and he'll bring me the withdrawal slip. And I signed the slip for another young woman who had given me the "I cut back on my hours at work and got the audio books" thing a few weeks ago--and hasn't been in class since. And a young woman who came to my office hour yesterday and talked with me for a long while has decided to withdraw. That's a shame: she registered late and never got caught up, missed a lot of classes and assignments, but I think if she'd been there from the start and had been more on the ball, she could have done very well. But she's gone now, regardless.

So, they're slowly getting the message, and slowly leaving, but I really do wish there would be more of a lemming-like rush for the door: I still have too damned many papers to grade. I just counted, and there are 23 papers to grade for M&D, and 21 for SF. And there are still a few that could come in late. It's unlikely--especially for M&D (as those were due last Thursday)--but it's especially possible that someone will try. Still, I should be grateful: that's better than 29 and 28.

I'm on the fence about whether to get up super early tomorrow to come in and try to grind through as many of those papers as I can before I go to Advisement, and based on this morning's experience, I think I won't. At one point, I absolutely could not keep my eyes open and had fallen asleep--I was still sitting up but my head was slumped forward--and a student rapped on the door. I practically got whiplash, I sat up so fast. I will say, talking with him gave me a nice energy boost. He's been doing a dreadful job of turning in work and getting to class on time, so even though he apparently has tons of potential, he may be in the "mercy D" category--but it's also on the outer rim of possibility that he could pull out an actual grade, which would be nice. Frustrating that he probably can't get the B+ (maybe even better) that he's worthy of, but at this point, if he doesn't fail, I'll be happy (and so will he). After he left, I didn't quite fall asleep at the desk again--but I really am idiotically exhausted, and consequently far crankier than any situation warrants.

So it behooves me to report a beautiful little miracle of today. I was at my desk, the phone rang, and it was the printing office. The job that I left with them yesterday, pleading to have for next week, was completed and ready for me to pick up. I was gobsmacked. And I'm getting them a gift basket. I know they probably get yelled at a lot, but this time, they deserve heaping helpings of thanks. I'm beyond grateful.

I'm also beyond hungry, I just realized. Tired and hungry: not a good combination. I need to roll away home. I have no idea what tomorrow will look like, and at the moment, I don't care. I just want out of here for tonight. Tomorrow will be whatever it is, and we'll take it from there.

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