Thursday, November 1, 2012

Late Night Misery--The tale of Absent Allen

Screw you LMS for telling Absent Allen that I am currently logged on. He emailed me because he knows I am currently logged in to the LMS. I can't hide this.

I refuse to hit reply. I do not care if my evaluation from you says I "wasn't available." Absent Allen, read the syllabus. There is no homework due tomorrow. Why? If you rtfs you would see that there is a midterm tomorrow. You missed two classes in a row. You missed the review. You had such potential until you missed half a chapter's worth of material. You really did.

Why am I awake still when I have to leave the house in four hours to freeway fly to get to work? Because, Absent Allen, I am still writing the exam I am giving you tomorrow.

Your email has made me reconsider any mercy I was feeling for you or your compatriots. I'll see you in five hours. I think I'll giggle when I'm grading the hell I am about to unleash on you.

Oh, and when you ask me tomorrow, dearest Absent Allen, why I didn't answer your email even though I was logged on, I am going to feign shock and say that I must have left my computer signed in. I just saw your email as I was making photocopies. Terribly sorry old chap.


  1. I'm a really big fan of taking the lawyer approach:

    Snowflake: Is there homework tomorrow?
    Me: yes.

    Snowflake: Did I miss anything last week?
    Me: yes.

    Snowflake: What is the homework?
    Me: empty email with syllabus attached.

    (although I usually give in and hold their sticky hands anyway)

  2. I really don't get the point of instructors lying to their students like this. It seems petty and spineless. Why not just tell the truth? "I didn't answer your email because the information is in the syllabus." Not hard, and the student might actually learn something.

  3. Curmudge, the reason for the lie is that an instructor who tells a student "I saw your e-mail and didn't reply" is going to be in hot water with his or her chair or dean when the student complains.

    1. I'm extremely skeptical of this. This has been my policy for several years and I no one has complained to anyone that I've heard of. But I'm only a young one here, so maybe some older folks can verify. In any case, I include a clause in my syllabus that I won't answer questions that I have 48 hours to answer emails, and that I will ignore questions that are answered in the syllabus. Usually, students will just ask me their questions before or after class, which I much prefer.

  4. Answering email in the wee hours is a bad idea, for a whole lot of reasons. And I, too, hate that LMS feature, which I believe is gone from the iteration of Blackholeboard we're currently using (at least I hope so). However, I must say I never had a student confront me directly about answering an email at a particular time even when that feature was quite visibly present. My syllabus promises a 24-hour turnaround, and, while I often answer more quickly, as long as I'm within those parameters, I don't see any need to explain why I didn't reply more quickly. After all, how well was he going to do anyway, with c. 6 hours to catch up, study, sleep, and accomplish his own commute?


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