Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Crazy Mestopholita is Upset

I teach writing, and that includes a course for students who aren't yet ready for Freshman Comp. In this class, students are assigned weekly journals so they can practice writing skills, and respond to a variety of issues. Sometimes, I ask them to respond to a recent news story. Other times, I ask them to respond to a poem or short piece of fiction. For their final journal of the semester, I asked them to reflect on whether or not their writing has changed during the course of the semester, and of course, to provide reasons for whatever their answers may be. I encouraged them to look back to their first assignments of the semester, and at their most recent in order to compare. Did they see any differences? What were they? I also asked them to consider what skills they need to continue to work on.

In previous semesters, I've received a variety of responses. Some spend the entire time lamenting their grade. Others attempt to flatter me into a better grade, but the majority actually do reflect on their learning and their writing.

This semester, though, I received one that surprised me. I had to re-read it to make certain these words were really on the page. This student, we'll call her Clueless Carla (for more reasons than what I'm about to share), wrote the following:

"my writing has improved very much since I retook this class. More or less because I didn't want to upset my teacher, she's a little crazy when she thinks we aren't paying attention."

Here's what I did this semester that probably made this student think these things:

I told the student who left class three times in a 50 minute period to "use the bathroom" that she couldn't come back that day if she left the room again, and that if she had a medical excuse that required her to use the restroom that often, that I'd need documentation.

I also told that same student that texting was not permitted in my classroom, and to turn the phone off and put it away.

I also told that student that, even if she really were "stuck" at home with her "kid" because her "babydaddy" didn't show up (for the 7th time that semester), I would not accept her essay two weeks late.

When this same student accidentally sent an email to me complaining about what a "bitch" I am and how I wouldn't "axuse" her latest "abcence," I did get upset. I spoke with her after class and told her that she should check her address lines before she sends emails, and how inappropriate that message was. Perhaps my tone wasn't as nice or calm as it should have been.

Guess who that student was? Yep! Clueless Carla!

So, along with the usual comments about sentence structure and punctuation, I commented on Clueless Carla's journal entry that it would be wise to avoid insulting her reader in the future.


  1. I'm thinking you need to show this dingbat just how much of a bitch you really are by reporting her and having her disciplined for harassment.

    That's some pretty unacceptable shizzit right there.

  2. I never want to know what my students think....

  3. Heh I had to tell a student that on his speech today. Overall he did well, but he did a class survey and kept on telling them all they were crazy and stupid for their answers. I'm like.... o.0? Really?

  4. It amazes me how little some students understand the concept of audience. If you've spent all term in a writing class and think insults are an excellent strategy for persuasion, that pretty much tells the instructor everything she needs to know about what you've learned and how well you've paid attention.

  5. I had a student submit something similar as part of his participation evaluation. His account of his performance amounted to a tirade about the uselessness of the course (he attended maybe half the lectures -- that's generous), from content to pedagogy. He then concluded with, "Honesty is the best policy."

    I'm going keep my feedback short: "Tact is the best strategy. 40."


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