Saturday, April 07, 2012


Teacher's Log. Stardate: Saturday of any semester.

Yesterday was a long day of grading and lesson prep.  Flunked five students on their essays, but being the softie I am, they have a chance for a re-write.  They won't be happy on Monday, that's for sure.  Three others need to drop the class.  I told them they were going to fail, so their answer to that one is to not show up for class, like it's some sort of revenge on the teacher. ("Take that, Professor!")  They don't get that I don't care if they fail honestly, or if they fail by not showing up.  I just wish they'd get themselves over to registration and take care of their business, because I do know how to enter an "F" in the right slot, come Judgment Day.

It was one of those grading days where the first five essays all had problems: didn't include a highlighted copy of their source or they plagiarized the whole essay.  I don't flunk them for plagiarizing, per se, but it triggers that re-write, as obviously they need to. . . um. . . re-write and re-learn how to insert a source, but not the WHOLE source.  Another student regularly hands me a pile of papers, sliding them into my IN folder on the desk.  I always have to assemble his essay packet.  Makes me cranky.  Re-write. 

Another student didn't include any quotes in their essay.  Re-write.  Another student MADE UP THEIR SOURCES.  Yes, they were discussing the Influenza of 1918, and wrote that it affected the infant and elderly population the worst.  Which is wrong, and I know this because by the time I'd read that little tidbit, I had already read six other papers on the same topic, scanning the same Wikipedia article six times, so I knew that it wasn't true. 

Another young woman wrote about the origins of fireworks and it went something like this: the Buddhist priest consulted the ancient scripture and combined the magic ingredients.  It was actually quite well-written, but by that time I'd read three other papers on fireworks and I knew it happened by accident when a Chinese cook accidentally blew up the cookhouse, all while combining those magic ingredients.

Ten students didn't turn in a paper at all.  And that was after I put up on the blog that they needed to start getting their things on time, time to push the Grow-Up Button, time to act like they were in Freshman Comp, to where--if they get their act together--they may actually matriculate.  I didn't really say all that stuff, but I sure thought it.

So, it's just a typical post-grading let-down, where you think you are the worst professor in the world and the students would be better off in one of those canned on-line classes, rather than with someone who actually cares about the students.  And that's why when S. said she had to drop the class because her father was being operated on for a brain tumor and she needed to be with him, you send her back a warm note telling her that she can take any of your classes anytime, anyhow, because she was your top student, and boy, you're going to miss her as well as her well-written papers.  And another 19-year-old student confides that her mother, who is also going to school and has was one of your previous students, expects this young woman to be her nanny and take care of the younger brothers and sisters but isn't she entitled to her own 19-year-old life? and she wants to drop biology and then starts crying and you whip out your tissue pack, which you always carry for occasions like this.

And W. misses class twice (unlike her) and you find out that they brought the grandmother who is 80 and suffering from breast cancer out from a neighboring state to see the younger sister at the cheer competition but the grandmother was slightly sick with a nasty cold, which my student gets, and she doesn't care because even if she has to take a late hit on her essay, she got to be with her grandmother.

That's why I grade and lesson prep and why, on Monday morning, I'll be back in the classroom.


Artax said...

Yeah -- grading is painful. But it does help the students.... I think....

Donna said...

How do we get such a range of involvement, truthfulness, accountability and maturity in people all supposedly almost ready for life after school?