Thursday, October 9, 2014

Speedy Midterm Rant

If I haven't seen you in five weeks, I don't want to see you during the midterm.


  1. I generally never paid attention to students who disappeared on me. If they did, it was up to them to learn the material because by skipping my lectures, they made a decision to do things on their own.

    Wouldn't you know it, I had one who decided to make my life miserable for a while. His main beef was his mark on a lab report. He did poorly on it because critical data was missing and I graded him on what he presented to me. (According to him, it was *my* responsibility to check with him why he didn't submit it. Huh? The kid was an adult, legally liable for his decisions.)

    Somehow, the conversation drifted to why he didn't bother showing up for my lectures, starting a few weeks after the course started, though he did manage to bring his sorry butt to the exams. His claim was that I was "boring" or some such thing, which, supposedly, was further justification for his sloppy work.

    So not only was I to re-instate "in loco parentis" for his personal benefit, I was supposed to entertain him as well? Yeah, right.

    I don't remember if he passed or failed the course, but I never saw him again after the following term ended.

  2. Oh, if I haven't seen you in five weeks, I'd be *delighted* to see you during the midterm, so I can enjoy every minute of watching you wriggle and squirm as I sincerely hope my exam tortures you to madness!!!

    (Cue mad scientist laugh:)


    (This only goes so far, of course. I draw the line when a student wets himself.)

  3. Maybe some of these students are actually unaware of their attendance or lack thereof?

    Actual student email yesterday, addressed to me by my first name:
    "I was wondering what my attendance was in the course?"

    Actual Horrible Mean response:
    "I would hope that you yourself are aware of when you have and have not attended class. And please, do not address me by my first name; I prefer 'Professor MeanieProf' or 'Dr. MeanieProf'."

    1. Aargh. This strikes me as an even more extreme example of the anxious passivity Tuba-Playing Prof described in the post below; after years of being helicoptered and assessed, (some) students apparently feel no sense of ownership or responsibility for something as simple as being in the appointed place at the appointed time (on the other hand, since they've never been responsible for keeping track of their schedules, or arranging transportation, or similar activities, this probably shouldn't surprise us.)

  4. Amen -- or, in my case, I do not wish to receive an email requesting an appointment for a conference so you can talk about "how to catch up. on your work" on the two major projects, which are now well underway. You can't; just drop while you still can, and register to retake the course next semester (hey; spring registration is open). I'll say that in an email (a bit more kindly, but still pretty bluntly -- "you may want to consider your options/talk to your advisor about dropping; in my experience, students who are x behind at y point rarely pass the course"), but I'll probably end up having a meeting with you anyway, before you eventually either drop or disappear again until the penultimate week of the semester, at which point we'll do the same dance, with slight variations (you can't drop then, but you can probably still find a spring section in which to enroll, though the choices will be more limited at that point). Seriously, if most students could complete the work of the course in half the semester, they'd make it a half-semester course (and the administrators would rejoice, since I could teach twice as many students for the same price).

    1. I sent two such emails this week. One student showed up to the class the same day, and the other emailed me that she and her classmate were at a D1 volleyball game ("the closest, most important game") to watch her cousin play, and she'd respond to my concerns when she got back from the game. What. The. Fuck?

  5. In my best Professor Farnsworth voice, "Oh my, yes."