Friday, February 10, 2012

Misery Loves Company??

Sorry I’ve been incommunicado, but this has been the worst semester ever! I feel like the biggest prof flake in the world, but in this case reality is far stranger than fiction and some of it I just cannot put in a post in order to protect the guilty and/or insane.

Two complaints from students (first ever) and had to discuss them with my chair. Fortunately, I’d already been hard at work fixing the problems earlier this week.

My car blew up spectacularly, so after two weeks, found a replacement—which is now also having issues...guess a trip to the mechanic is in order.

I have a mouse in my house, so the exterminator should be here shortly. Wow, are my cats going to be disappointed that they won’t get to make new friends. They've been very eager to meet our visitor.

What's been your worst semester? What made it so rotten???


  1. For me, it was the semester I had to teach science to a class of 80 education majors. I know, DANGER, Will Robinson! Ed majors!

    Unfortunately, I didn't know this at the time. I got no briefing or preparation whatsoever about teaching ed majors. One reason I got into teaching was that my dear old Dad was a teacher. He was a very smart fellow, always interested in ideas, always reading and thinking. I assumed most teachers would be like that.

    Was I in for a shock! I perhaps ought to have realized that my Dad didn’t handle the ‘60s well, and retired as soon as he turned 65, because he said he was “sick of babysitting.” I’m glad he didn’t live to see what education has come to today.

    Over my worst semester, I came to learn that ed majors have the lowest SAT scores of any students in the university, and make the lowest salaries after graduation. It wasn’t just that they weren’t capable of understanding the high-school level material I had for them. They couldn’t read or write at college level, or do simple arithmetic, and they had no knowledge whatsoever of history or politics, much less science. What hurt was that they had a positive antipathy toward learning. They organized repeatedly to prevent me from requiring that they, for example, look up words they didn’t know.

    Every time, my higher-ups would cave in shamelessly. My department was run by a grossly incompetent, totally unsupportive Chair, who thought that unlimited amounts of extra work can and should be dumped on junior faculty, as well as an old bit of deadwood with the mannerisms of a child molester who clearly stated that the teacher is always completely responsible for student learning, along with other Kool-Aid inspired fantasies.

    How did I survive it? Not very well. Both of these fools voted against me when I later went up for tenure. Fortunately for everyone, they are now in the early retirement program, no longer teaching much, and no longer get a vote in faculty meetings, and so rarely show up for them. I never was assigned that class again. When I became Chair, imagine my delight in assigning it to my former Chair, saying in complete sincerity, “I have no doubt that you could teach this class better than anyone else in the department.”

    1. Succinctly: what made this so rotten was the feeling that the lunatics had taken over the asylum, the feeling that the adults had not just abdicated their responsibility, but were aiding the lunatics, and worst of all, that these people were training to be TEACHERS. I've wondered whether there might be any way to BEG some of the worse ones not to be teachers: all they will do will be to instill their fear of science in their students, and that is all.

    2. As we pay farmers to plow crops back under perhaps we can have a program to discourage those who should not be teaching by giving them some of our taxpayer dollars??? Hmm...that could work, but it needs a catchy name.

      Overall, though, that whole period sounds like a really tough time. Loved how you got karma at the end, though!!!!

    3. @AA: I think Strelnikov has a much more effective plan: kill them.

  2. Mine was last semester. I'll never forget it. I've had semesters where students were dicks and said horrible things to me in front of everyone else, but last semester every single one of my 70 students had some sort of issue. 10% had some sort of disability that I swear isn't real - though they were the better students. Just the whining, the "you're so unfair." There were literally several times when I would say things to them and I'd think, "I just said that to my 6 year old nephew yesterday." It's hard to pinpoint, but they were just impossible. On the last day a young man said he hoped that they weren't my worst class ever. I told them I hoped they were because if I ever had one that was worse, I'd kill myself. I received nearly 1000 emails from these turds. Each day I thought I was on a hidden camera show. I couldn't sleep at night, I didn't want to go in the morning. I don't know how I got through it...I think I'm still slightly traumatized. NO - I know what it was. My misery led me to find CM...and I survived because of that I think. Seriously.

  3. Which is my worst semester? It is always the same: the next one.

  4. The semester I taught "professional writing." Who knew that requiring juniors and seniors to write resumes and cover letters without grammar/spelling errors was "expecting too much"?

  5. That's easy. It was this time last year. My brother died unexpectedly, I had to leave my classes in the hands of two subs who freaked out the students, and my student evals raked me over the coals for having difficulty when I came back. I was told I asked for special treatment from them because I missed class. One even called me a fat nerd. (I'm pretty sure that one came from the student I caught cheating, whose defense was "I showed my paper to all my friends at work and they said I didn't cheat" when it was 100% copied from a famous academic website on the topic, didn't meet the requirements of the paper, and had no works cited.) Oh, and my quizzes were too hard, I unfairly penalized students with learning disabilities because I actually met the accommodations from the special populations office notice instead of what Suzy Snowflake wanted, and my crazy chair ended her term by telling every single one of us during our faculty evaluations that we should visit The Site We Shall Not Name to learn the "truth" about our teaching.

    1. Last semester I found out that my brother was in a car accident a half an hour before I had to teach. He was okay, so I decided not to cancel class, but I was rattled.

      Needless to say, I didn't teach the best class of my life that day. Later on I found out that three snowflakes had chosen that evening to get on That Site to share with the world what a terrible teacher I was. What a model of compassion.

  6. The time a snowflake's parents tried to claim academic harassment on behalf of their precious progeny. It made a whole semester go on for ever, while getting nothing done.

    Their logic was that as the apple of their eye was taking part in a study abroad program, said apple was "representing the university".

    As such, in the semester preceding delicate little blossom's departure for foreign climes, it was clearly harassment to expect homework and projects to be completed on time and to a reasonable standard.


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