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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Systemically pissed off--but mitigated by a pleasant encounter

I am currently beyond furious with two of my 101 students. Both wrote e-mails about not having the hard copy of their essays on Monday; I replied to both that they absolutely must submit the hard copy to me today. I've seen nothing from either one: no e-mailed response, no paper. So, I e-mailed them both this evening. Here's what I said:

"Both of you seem to believe that when you send an e-mail, you have no responsibility to check for a response. That further suggests that you are confident your assumptions about what will be acceptable are correct: because you think it will be fine for you to bring the paper on Wednesday, it will be, and there is no need to check that assumption with the person who actually decides what is and is not acceptable."

I went on to state that I'm unhappy to be put in the position of having to decide whether to accept their papers--and even more unhappy that, despite several discussions, warning, and second (even third) chances, they apparently haven't learned some basic lessons about being college students. And I really am extremely unhappy about that. I'll be interested to see if I get panic-stricken e-mails from either or both of them tomorrow. And I honestly have absolutely no clue how I will handle the situation. None.

I know I shouldn't be so angry: I'm taking this personally, and it isn't about me--but I think I'm actually upset because it feels as if they've just demonstrated that I'm ineffectual as a teacher: for two of the students from that tiny little class to be so irresponsible at this stage in the semester shocks me and makes me wonder if I've missed some crucial step in clarifying how communication works. As Le Guin notes in one of her stories, being responsible means you have to answer: you have to respond. They didn't, and it makes me want to dress them down in front of their classmates--but even with that, I don't know what to do about providing feedback on their papers. I guess they don't get any, but that really blows their chances for doing any decent revision--and it's their final paper, worth significantly more than the others.

However, the pleasant encounter that helps me shake off my deep anger with the 101 students was a meeting with a student from the SF class. She and I were trying to meet all day today, and finally managed to see each other at about 6:30. We talked about her paper; she's getting ready to revise her second essay, which was disastrous. She admitted that she threw it together in a hurry, to which I replied, "Yeah, I could tell." She's one of the students whose paper read like something for a high school class--but I was very happy to have her come in to meet with me to talk it over. I think she has an idea that will work now. Whether she has the time to do a substantive revision is another matter, but whatever she does, it has to be better than what she turned in for the first version.

I was in such a flying hurry yesterday that I didn't make note of the fact that two students from the Mystery class came to my office hour yesterday to talk about their papers--two who had never met with me before. I do, of course, wish they had decided to see me in October, perhaps, when it might have done more good, but I'm glad they came to see me at all. I will be interested to see what their revisions look like, whether our talk actually makes much difference in the results I collect on Thursday. I'll meet with another student tomorrow, too: for all of them, better late than never.

But going back to the student from SF with whom I met tonight: after we talked about her paper, we ended up just chatting about heaven knows what for a good while. Nothing serious--nothing like the wonderful conversations I've had with the young man who is soon off to join the Marines--but fun chat nonetheless. She's a perky, chatty, friendly type, the kind of young woman who can easily make conversation with just about anyone about just about anything--but she's also genuinely interested in hearing what the other person has to say, not just in talking about herself, which is charming. I did have to chase her out of my office eventually, but it was enjoyable.

It did mean, however, that I didn't finish marking the three papers I do have for the 101 class--but I think I can get them done before class tomorrow anyway--especially if I pack it in soon here so I'm not too ragged in the morning. Advisement was pretty busy on Monday but not quite as packed as it's been. I still don't think I can count on having any down time in which to do my own work, but if I can manage to get in to the office just early enough to finish one paper, and then finish the other in the break between Advisement and class, I'll be OK. If, however, those two students who haven't submitted their papers suddenly have them for me before class, I'll have to think about what I want to do...

But that's a worry for tomorrow. For tonight, I'm stick-a-fork-in-me done. On my desk are one and a half unmarked papers for 101 and the reading responses I collected from the lit courses today: I haven't been this caught up in forever. I'll take that feeling of accomplishment home with me.

1 comment:

  1. For better or worse -- I hear you on all counts !