All Fall Down
At the beginning of July all these events collide: graduation; last week of the session; start of hurricane season; finals (2 days); grades due a day after finals end; hotel move-out day for faculty, staff and students. All these happen after most of our contracts end.
Students are feeling sick, tired, depressed, distracted. They are quitting jobs left and right and struggling to catch up in classes they have attended regularly but somehow goofed up in or classes they blew off for 2+ weeks (to sleep, go home, wander the hotel) and now desperately want (read: need) to pass. Out of 12 classes this session, some students have missed 5, 6, 8, 9 of them. I have been struggling with students to submit papers for almost 2 weeks because most did not read the directions they begged me to post online telling them exactly how to submit. The emails I sent went unanswered. I can count on one hand how many students have emailed for help or talked to me about the course content or their work (the majority of emails have been babyish whines about wanting an A or asking for help 3 hours before an assignment/paper is due). The lack of a break between sessions is breaking some of the students. Most of them attended classes elsewhere post-Katrina. It has been impossible either to teach a semester's worth of work and/or learn a semester's worth of work in cubicles with no ceilings and no way to control acoustics, impractical shuttle schedules...and we are in post-Katrina New Orleans, after all. That alone takes a few hours off your life each week, if not day.
I spent about 2 hours this morning calculating and posting midterm grades then compiling a table of D/Fs and reasons for their poor performance for the provost's office. Like they told us at the beginning of the first session (and every faculty meeting I remember on campus), we the faculty are responsible for retention. And this 'year,' the University needs 100% retention.
About a quarter of the students failing missed 4-9 classes (out of 12). Others have yet to submit papers in the format or location I requested 2+ weeks ago. They miss class and I cannot tell them I haven't gotten the papers, I email and get no response or I email and get random assignments in the proper format and wait still for the papers. One email I sent yesterday read:
So he wants to try.
You have 5 absences. You are allowed 2 for the session. There is nothing you can make up; I do not take late homework or allow makeups of in-class work. You've turned in nothing, including an Essay 2, so I have no way to judge whether or not it is possible for you to earn any particular grade. Absences alone will lead to an F. You would have to submit all perfect work which is unlikely.
It is up to you.
I am ready to be committed.