Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Future WIll Not Occur

Too many things to say and no time to say them. But, inspired by Cranky Epistles and other college teaching horror (read: student) stories, I should offer up 2 of my own:

1. I set up an easy in-class essay in my lower-level composition course, something I never do. I created and distributed an assignment sheet 5 days before to read an essay, practice summarizing at home then come in on Monday, write a 1-paragraph summary and a 2+ paragraph response. Easy. I read the sheet in class, gave them page numbers for the essay, chose an essay we'd already read earlier in the session and emphasized orally what I listed twice on the sheet--no book or notes.

Monday, half of the 8 who still bother to come took the paper provided and got to work. I told one young man to put his book away, no books. He whined that he 'thought' he'd be able to use his book. Two young women near him chimed in. I said, No, I said it in class, it was on the sheet twice (thinking to myself and wanting to say, You should've read the fucking sheet I gave you instead of speculating--I give the damn sheets so you know what the fuck is up). He immediately says, Well, can I use my book since I thought I could? Wanting to totally flip out, already so mad by now I’m shaking, I told him, Absolutely not, it was on the sheet, I said it in class, it was an essay we'd read before and that you should've read almost 4 weeks ago. Young woman #2 begins, Well, I never read it in the first-- I cut her off (why would you tell a person in charge of giving you a final grade in a core requirement you must pass that you don't bother to do the homework?), repeated my Absolutely-not sentence then, so infuriated i was afraid I’d burst into tears and wondering if I really did put on the sheet that no books or notes would be allowed, I put my head down and graded homework. (I checked the sheet. I said it twice. Plus, the other 4 who showed up had no problem understanding.)

2. Later that day in the other composition course, one student (out of 23) questioned her assignment grade--on a 50-point assignment, she scored in the high 20s. She wanted to talk to me about it before class Wednesday so I agreed, said to meet me at 2:15 (class starts at 2:30) and we’d go over it. Wednesday morning, I re-read the paper and made extensive notes and realized I was GENEROUS. She didn’t follow the assignment (just like the last assignment which called for an annotated bibliography; she turned in a stack of notecards stapled together), didn't elaborate and though the assignment said to summarize and paraphrase and use at most ONE direct quote, every paragraph of her assignment was one sometimes-comprehensible sentence of her own (I thought) and a 3-5 line direct quote from the essay she was allegedly analyzing. I reviewed the paper and typed in comments boiling. (With 60 or so papers coming in in less than 2 weeks and only 4 days to grade them all and calculate and submit final grades AND write 4 syllabi for the next session... 'bitch' is not the word for how I feel at times and this will escalate until final grades are submitted.)

Wednesday I get to class early (very--my watch, I found out later, was 5 minutes fast) but no student. She finally arrives, sits next to me at the front of the room. While I sort out some assignments, I tell her to look over the comments I made. About 15 seconds later, when I am finished, she starts again with her bewilderment why she got the grade she did (she didn't bother to read what I gave her, didn't look at any of my comments). I start with the first paragraph--2 of the 5 sentences are wordy, irrelevant and make no sense. She hears me but doesn't listen and jumps to the next paragraph and we spend a few minutes, arriving students agog and tiptoeing to their places, over the 2d half of the first sentence of her second paragraph: the claim is stated in the statement of claim. She insists the textbook says that and I say it couldn't possibly say something so nonsensical and stupid (and it doesn't; I checked). I point out that she doesn't explain what the assignment told her to, that a single sentence and then a long quote is not elaboration, doesn’t show me she understands the argumentative model used but mostly she just didn't follow the assignment. I look at the grading sheet, still feel I was justified and point out that she lost points because of the lack of analysis and elaboration. She tells me the assignment said multiple quotes could be used--I cut her off with No, it did not, I checked when I graded this and I checked again this morning, it says to paraphrase and summarize ONLY and that one single direct quote may be used. She tells me the assignment did not say that. I tell her to go look at the assignment. She also insists she can show me where in the textbook she found this ridiculous statement but naturally doesn’t have the book with her. She still wants to insist the book said that and take more of my time and I tell her, No, bring the book to your conference. Her answer? I will. Oooh, I’m scared. Then the whole class she kept giving me the evil eye.

And she is an education major.

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Blogger CrankyProf said...

This is horrible to say (and it makes me feel slightly disoyal), but the ed majors are the WORST when it comes to a) reading the details of the assignments and b) NOT whining about their grades when they fail to follow directions.


Fellow frustrated teaching person, I salute you.

We should drink more.

Thu Mar 23, 05:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do drink more--lol!! I have a student right now who wants to bring her cloud over a class of 115--not on my watch. There are two things I metaphorically employ in such cases: the Dominatrix and the Dog Trainer. Don't let it get to you. Whip!

Thu Mar 23, 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

I drink more, too--this semester has reignited my margarita jones :D. I have to write more about my Dominatrix and Dog Trainer classroom moments (though i call it Mad Black Mama).

Fri Mar 24, 05:18:00 PM  

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