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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

All over but the shouting

I am expecting some shouting, or whining, or other forms of bitching from students about their final grades. There were a lot of D's this semester--some of them "Mercy" D's, but that doesn't mean the student won't complain. There were more than the usual F's--at least in terms of students who completed the semester, and I actually feel bad about two of them, because the students were feeling so triumphant at the end of the semester, just for having survived.

There was only one case where I significantly adjusted a final grade--and I did so because the student is graduating this semester. The "Mercy D" gets her her diploma, which right now is probably all that matters.

I really am dreading looking at my campus email over the next few weeks. My emotional reactions when students write the angry or pathetic emails about their grades are interesting to observe (not so much fun to feel). I feel angry, yes, and affronted--but I also feel strangely conscience-stricken, as if I have actually perpetrated a wrong. And I feel wounded. I try to pretend that I don't care whether my students actually like me or not, but the embarrassing fact is that I do. I want to be liked, even by the worst of the little pissants in my classes. Not the ones I dislike intensely, but even, for example, the young man I mentioned yesterday, who feels he should get a B+ simply because he wants one: it will bug me if he fires off an angry email. And I expect he will. And part of why I'll be bothered is because he has seemed to like me all semester, and it will sting to have him make it very clear that he doesn't.

Yes, I know I shouldn't take any of this personally. These students do not know me as a human being. In fact, since I'm a professor, they hardly see me as a human being at all. When they unleash their ire, they have no sense that their words might have an effect on the sensibilities of the person they're lambasting. This is partly due, of course, to the cushioning effect of electronic communication, which allows us to lob incendiary comments and duck any potential consequences, but it is also because all the writer of the email considers is his or her own feeling of righteous indignation, as if that bile is being splashed against a stone wall, not a human being.

Well, whatever. It's not as if I haven't dealt with the wrath of students before, and I know myself well enough to know that at a certain point my temper kicks in, and then I don't feel hurt or maligned: I just feel like someone with a very large and heavy stick in combat with an opponent armed with a toothpick. I fucking win: I'm the professor. So there.

Jesus, it's all very childish, isn't it.

Shifting gears: it does feel very good to have finished--done as in stick a fork in me done: hard copy rosters completed and submitted to the department, grades uploaded to Banner, photocopies and printouts made for my records. And I don't have to be back here until next week for commencement.

I will be back later this month to start working on fall adjunct schedules, either on my own or with Cathy. And in August, I'll probably be doing a lot of the work on my own, as Cathy's daughter and grandchildren will be visiting from London; she'll join me as soon as they return home, but until then, I'll just be bugging the crap out of her with calls and texts. I've done it before when Bruce was away, so I can do it again.

That's another thing that was finished today, by the way: Cathy and I tied up the last of the loose ends on the adjunct scheduling. She will complete the "retention pool" (the list of how many courses were requested and how many we assigned to what level of seniority--all stuff required by the adjunct union), but it's not due for a while yet. Next week, she gets to decide whether to cancel sections; I may e-mail to suggest that she hold off on canceling anything for the second summer session until it's closer to starting, but early indications are that either students are enrolling late (because there is a longer break than usual between end of spring semester and start of summer session one) or enrollment is down--again. Cathy is already getting nervous about fall, but it's way too early for that yet; we shouldn't start worrying until beginning of August at the earliest.

But all that is way in the future. For now, all I have to do is load the office plants into the car, move things off the various surfaces where I've been tossing them onto my desk, for clean-up and organization when I'm back to work on fall schedules, and toddle off to meet Paul for a well-deserved post-semester drink and dinner and talk. Funny that I feel anxious about being finished: I think it's because I'm waiting to find out what I've forgotten (that and waiting for the explosions from students). But tomorrow, I may actually start on getting organized for fall. Imagine such efficiency! Don't hold your breath, however: It's also entirely likely I could spend tomorrow staring into space and drooling--metaphorically speaking, of course.

I'll try to keep the blog posts coming, regardless. I'm rather addicted to the increase in my readership, and I know if I stop posting, people will drop away--so, I'll keep feeding my readers need for something new every day. There's always something to say...

Including, TTFN.


  1. Yes there is, Prof. Payne. And now that NCC won't have me to kick around any more, your most faithful reader will have more time to reflect on why (other than $ or love of students) you keep on keepin on.

  2. PS a day later: do not, fräulein Dr. Professor, feel pushed to constantly produce. Your readers will patiently wait while you do your sea-cucumber imitation for a few months! Blessings B