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Monday, May 15, 2017

"Professor, give me a B+ because that's what I want"

I've read at least one self evaluation with that as the message. It wasn't even subtext: it's pretty blatant. I should give the student a B+ because 1) my class was too hard for him, given all his other classes and his full time job, 2) my class isn't important for his major, and 3) he needs a B+ because he's transferring to a prestigious university and anything else will be unacceptable to them.

I won't bother to address his request, or his reasons for it--and he's getting a C, which required some massaging of his grades, as what he actually earned was a D+--but here would be my replies, if he were to talk with me about it:

1) If my class was too hard, and getting that good grade was so important to you, you should have either withdrawn--or you should have been in to see me every single week to find out what to do to improve the quality of your work. If you didn't have time for that, then you shouldn't have been taking the class.

2) If my class isn't important for your major, why is it a requirement for your major? Surely the people who designed the major had some reason why they believed you would, in fact, "need" the class.

3) When you get into that prestigious university, try getting  a better grade from a professor just because it's what you want. Also, when you are there, ask any teacher to evaluate any of the essays you wrote for me and tell you what the grade would be. I think you'd find that the D you actually earned is closer to how the professors at a top-flight campus would evaluate your work.

Cleansing breath.

I've actually massaged the grades for a couple of students, one just to get her to pass; one to get her to a C; and Mr. Victoria's Secret Shopper ("No, I wanted a B, not a C; take back the C and give me the B"). And I'm on the fence about whether to do so for another student. This is the young man I mentioned way back when we were working on first essays and I was holding conferences: he's the one who at the end of his conference told me he'd just learned more in that 20 minutes than he'd learned in all his other English classes. Really, realistically, he shouldn't pass, probably--but the D would allow him to move on, and he'll reach the hurdle he really, truly cannot get over eventually, and that may be soon enough for him to have the painful reality check.

I don't know. It's that whole "I'm second guessing myself" thing again. Am I being too hard? Am I being too lenient? Am I being too inconsistent? (Probably that last. I'd say, "Let the math decide" and stick with it, except I know that the actual numeric value attached to any assignment is somewhat elastic, so the original numbers can be adjusted and still be essentially accurate.)

But when I get to this point, I know it's probably time to take a break--and as long as I know I'm not going to finish tonight, and given that it's 7:30, I might as well shove all the rest to tomorrow. I don't have to write comments on any more assignments: I'm in the read, slap a grade on it, crunch the numbers, and next part of the grading process. That being the case, I'm hopeful that I can grind through it all tomorrow without too much wailing and gnashing of teeth (and without being here too late). Paul and I are hoping to go out to dinner one night this week (which would be better than peanut M&Ms in the office), but it will depend on our individual energy levels and how quickly I can finish. I don't know if Cathy needs me to help with adjunct scheduling clean-up, but I don't think so.

And I'm going to start carrying the office plants home to leave on the porch over the summer. A highly symbolic gesture.

I am tired, anxious, cranky, and outta here.

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