Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Remember The Old School Smackdown? Here's an Example from 9 Years Ago. An RYS Flashback.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Frosty Fran Lights a Fire.

A community college professor in the liberal arts in a cold state sends these along:

"Mr. Smith"
Attention Span: like a puppyIntelligence: doubtfulArrogance: Significant
If you want a fight on your hands, make a comment that this student's one-paragraph, 3 page long paper is "poorly written." He'll tell you that the writing is fine; it is just a problem of form.

"Ms. Waterworks"
Ability to comprehend: doubtfulFuture career: grocery store clerkOpinion of herself: way higher than she deserves
Crying seems to work on other people, but not on me. The fact of the matter is that you didn't want to take the late penalty for your paper with the missing golden paragraphs, and you didn't like the grade the paper got without them. Next time I have a couple of suggestions: 1) get your shit together. 2) Don't tell your professor that this paper got an A in your Sociology class.

"Ms. Florida"
Attendance: just enough to stay in the classIntelligence: my dumb cat is smarterJudgement: poor
This one wants to leave in the middle of the 75 minute class, and doesn't realize that it is a disruption every time. I'm sure you "had to" go on vacation in Florida with your "family" Thanksgiving week -- which must not include your own SISTER, who is also in my class and was in class that week.

"Mr. ADD"
Attention Span: shorter than any student I've hadJudgement: poor
If you like students who are disruptive and want to watch "Family Guy" DVDs on their computers in class, this one is for you.

Hygiene: poor
Integrity: lowSnarkyness: high Watch out for this one.
He'll cut you down with administration behind your back while smiling at you. He wants to be a politician and if all things are equal, he'll end up a used car salesman. Avoid small-group situations with this one.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Young People Don’t Know How to Fix Anything. From Yahoo.Com

Kids today. They don’t tinker or get their hands dirty when something breaks. They just toss it out and buy another disposable trinket to replace it.

That’s the view of a leading engineering professor in England, at least, who warns that people under 40 are a “lost generation” when it comes to learning how everyday items work and how to fix them.

“We’ve got a lost generation that has grown up with factory electronics that just work all of the time,” Danielle George tells the Telegraph.

“All of these things in our home do seem to work most of the time and because they don’t break we just get used to them. They have almost become like Black Boxes which never die. And when they do we throw them away and buy something new.”

The Rest.

Monday, December 29, 2014

There's No Place Like A Dorm Room For The Holidays. From Georgia Public Broadcasting.

It's final exam week for lots of college students. No doubt they're stressed right now, but once they hand in that last paper or take that last test, they're done for the semester. Pack up the suitcase and head home for the holidays. But for some college students many of whom are former foster youth that's not quite what happens.

"I have no for-certain home, that's the thing," says Trudy Greer, a 22-year-old sophomore at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich. She says she's had a lot of folks at EMU ask her where she lives, curious to know where her home is.

"I just say, 'This is my home.' Like, wherever I am, that is where my home is," Greer says. "Home is where the heart is, and right now my heart is at EMU."

Greer hasn't lived with her parents in years; she's been in and out of foster care. She says she always feels like she has to hustle for everything clothes, food, money and the holidays are a stark reminder of just how alone she often feels.

"Last break, like last year, I was at my old foster home, and I stayed there and it's always welcoming, but it's never like 'my home,' " Greer says.

Holiday break is something students look forward to, a time to enjoy the holidays and be joyful ... right?

"Yeah, it's supposed to be," Greer says, "but I haven't had a joyful Christmas in years."

The rest.

Stat Porn

Hiram, Reg W., Cal, and a couple of others have been asking me to talk a bit about the hits. I know some people are colossally bored with the reach of the blog, so just enjoy the pretty green colors and the jagged lines. The dips around Thanksgiving and Christmas are statistically the same relative to previous years.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Meaningful feedback in a timely fashion - the Wombat's biggest weakness & An All Time Thirsty!

I scrolled through my ratings on the site that shan't be named, going all the way back to the beginning.  I know it's a bi-modal pile of nonsense written by non-representative students:  the ax grinders and the super-keaners.  But... as I wrap up my 10th year of teaching, I thought there might be enough data to yield something meaningful in terms of a pattern.  And there was.  

There are intermittent "I learned everything I needed for my upper division classes from her" and "the MCATs will be a breeze if you take her class - but you have to do your part".  An occasional "she doesn't explain anything", and one fight that broke out between raters arguing about whether another rating was supposed to say "she has a lisp" or "she has a limp".  But in looking over the whole archive, there is a distinct pattern.  Most of them say the same two things, one good, one bad, in each rating.  The gist of the good is that I'm the "only professor who cares", or "who tries".  And the bad is:  

She's really disorganized with grading.  

So - now that the Christmas chaos has left my house, and I have a moment to freshen up my syllabi, I wanted to poll the commiserates for strategies to improve the quality and efficiency of my feedback.

  • How do you grade?  
  • How do you assign work?  
  • Lots of little things that can be graded in minutes?  
  • A few gigantic assessments that take time to evaluate, but only have to be done a few times?   Rubrics?  
  • How do we feel about multiple choice?  [I have a knee-jerk aversion to MC, but maybe there's an appropriate way to add MC (in moderation, of course)].  
  • Automating anything with Blackboard?  

Q: What are your tricks?  Why am I perennially failing to keep up with grading?  

Thanks in advance, 
The gimpy wombat with a speech impediment.  

An Open Note From Prof. Chiltepin. POW.

I wanted to respond to a few comments, but I wanted to do it in a post.

I don't read CM because I hate my job. I actually really love my job, and could never imagine myself doing anything else. I read CM because I know that there are things wrong with the culture of what we do, and we're not allowed to talk about them anywhere but here. If I say "Hey, my students are often lazy," I'm accused of hating my students. If I say "administrators are screwing us," I get accused of trying to unionize. And if I say "sometimes, the most rewarding and valuable parts of this job are subsumed under a slough of stupid bureaucracy," I get told to stop complaining.

"Golly, teaching is so noble." Yeah, it is. It's goddamned noble to protect and preserve and increase human knowledge, to transmit it to a new generation. I am absolutely, honestly thrilled that I get to be part of that endeavor. But if you think that's all you're doing, well, maybe you should find yourself a better therapist. I like sherry. A good sherry is really, really good, but if someone is standing in my kitchen and pissing in my sherry, I'm going to say "Hey, man, stop pissing in my sherry, okay?" I'm not saying that sherry in general isn't good just because I'm pointing out that someone is pissing in mine. I'm saying, hey, man, stop pissing in my sherry. Pretending that higher education is above reproach because what we're doing is so noble -- that's the bullshit my administration pulls to tell us to shut up about the fact that they're stealing from our students and us.

"Love it or leave it" is stupid advice, as stupid and pernicious as any advice could be. If you love it, you stay. And if there are things that you don't love, things that are rotten, you point them out in the hopes that they might change. And if they can't change, you complain with friends and share your misery in order to lighten it.

And yeah, the blog has been a little slow lately. That could be because, you know, it's Christmas. Crazy, I know.

5 years Ago on RYS. Conference Season Looms.

Monday, December 28, 2009

First Interview Reports from the MLA!

  • IT WASN'T SO BAD! I've been dreading these interviews since my first year in grad school, but I just came from a (supposedly) dreaded hotel-room interview and it was great. A little school from the Pacific Northwest greeted me warmly at their Marriott suite - and it was phat - and we had a relaxed 65 minute meeting that went better than expected. They asked about my dissertation at the start, but then moved on to teaching concerns. Luckily for me I've had a chance to teach pretty broadly over my last 2 years and I felt so comfortable with them that when they asked about a class I'd never even thought of teaching, my answer of "I don't know how I'd handle that. But I'd love to know how you folks deal with it," was met with smiles and a really honest answer. THE MLA ROCKS!
  • I have a few "personal" links on my current faculty website, and one of the first questions my committee had for me today was about a completely unknown anime novel I wrote the text for about 5 years ago. It ended up being the best question of the interview because it's something I know a lot about and something I was able to use to talk about how I would teach an intro to CW class. I was stunned that the committee knew so much about me.
  • Oh Lord. Why am I here? I had my first interview this morning and I blew it. I realize now that I simply didn't know enough about the school. I'm one of those dumbfuck snowflake grad students who knows a lot about myself but nothing about the schools I'm trying to make into a home. I was embarrassed, but the committee didn't seem to dwell on it. I incorrectly assumed a number of things that would have been fairly easy to know had I spent a little more time researching them. I don't have another interview until tomorrow and NOW I'm going to study...dumb ass. I imagine they all wrote "dumb ass" on their legal pads after I left. Okay. Regroup.
  • Okay, who runs their heater at 80 degrees for an interview? Do they not know that I'm in a monkey suit? Do they not know that I'm nervous? I walked into their furnace of a room and there was sweat on my forehead throughout the 30 uncomfortable minutes, and I shook hands goodbye with a sweaty palm that I couldn't wipe often enough on my pants. Nice. Nice to meet you. Sorry if I'm dripping. Crack a window, would you?
  • A large state school from California had 7 people at the interview table. Is that enough, do you think? 2 didn't even ask questions. They just scribbled every inane thing I said. These 2 sat sort of behind the main 5, and I didn't know if I was to address them or what. What gives? Secretaries? Notetakers? Were they from some other table? I couldn't focus on what was being asked and I called the chair by the wrong name at the end and realized it when I was halfway out of the room. Hooray for me.
  • Manners? Don't these committees have manners? I was half way through the last answer when they just hustled me out the room into a hallway where 2 other people were waiting. They set up their times too close together. I hate this shit.
  • I'm going to get a campus interview. I can feel it. I knocked the poop out of every answer. The people were great, knew about me, asked questions I knew the answers to, and gave me a nice 5 page handout that showcased the town and the college. It's never been this easy before at the MLA. High hopes.
  • They didn't put a spotlight in my eyes, but they might as well have. Five of us were crowded into an ordinary hotel room. I got a chair - thank God - but three of them sat on the edge of a bed. They were disorganized, and I clearly saw folders for at least four other candidates (including their names and current schools!) on the floor at someone's feet. Unprofessional all the way. I wouldn't take a job if they offered it. Buffoons. And the questions were all antagonistic and designed to make you fail. They asked how I'd teach a class that wasn't even in my subfield. Are they nuts? I told them I wasn't qualified for that class and that they probably had someone else already better suited to it. Then I went through what my real strengths were. They didn't follow that up but asked a question about a completely unrelated topic. Dumbshits.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Turning Point Post. 9 Years Ago.

Compound Cal sends this along:

Most longtime readers will tell you that RYS began to change with the appearance of this post. The mission of the page remained the same, but I always felt - while reading the archives and countless notes that mentioned this post, since it predates my time as a moderator - that college proffies took the job of critiquing the profession a little more seriously and with more kindness.

Many characters from the blog's past haunt me still, like this one.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Junior From Jersey.

Listen, THE PROFESSOR, if you really want to understand what it's like to have professors like you grade us, rate us, poke us and prod us every day, take a walk in my shoes.

My Bio teacher tells us on every test that there are at least 2 right answers for every question, and that one is "better." Does that seem fair to you? Not me either.

My major field advisor is a stinking drunk, and I mean stinking. I can smell his scotch or whatever every time I walk in to his office. I have to smile so he fills out my forms even though he makes me sick to my stomach.

My Psychology professor tries to look up my skirt when I wear one. He hardly even pretends to do it casually. He's a married man, and old enough to be my dad. And because I can't possibly say anything against him - I'll flunk - I have to act like it doesn't bother me. I am physically ill every day before that class, and I'm glad I'll never have to see him again. But I bet there's another one like him waiting for me next semester.

I sleep in a dorm room with a girl who barfs three times a day, and who I can't report because I'm afraid she'll kill herself. I have a suitemate who screws her boyfriend after dorm hours and I can't say anything about that because her dad gave the college a ton of money and I don't need to be any more of an outsider than I am.

I can only schedule classes at weird times because of the incredibly clogged network. So on MWF I have a class at 8 am, noon, and 4 pm. How am I supposed to get a work schedule at the Kohl's if I can't get away from campus for a few hours in a row. Yes, I pay for a lot of my school myself, and I have to work in order to come here.

So, while you're all getting your jollies picking on students, please realize we're not all the same, and not all of us deserve your scorn.

Friday, December 26, 2014

6 Years Ago. Bewildered Belinda With Some Boxing Day Smackdown. An RYS Flashback.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Present Patty, an online student who never participated in one discussion, never did one assignment, and didn't take a single exam. When I dropped her at midterm, she wanted to know why, so I responded that she was not participating in the course. She responded, "But I've logged in each week and pressed the 'click here for attendance' button." I've apparently been teaching finger aerobics and didn't know it.

Hard to Remember Rodney, who claimed that he was failing my course due to a "short term memory" disability that made it difficult for him to remember and recall things on an exam, especially since mine were so hard. If I really cared about my students, I would make my questions easier and not require so much "memory skill." Well, howdy doody buddy. I support accommodations for learning disabilities, but this is ridiculous. I hate to break it to you, Einstein, but years ago, your problem wasn't called a "short term memory disability," it was called STUPID.

Gail with the Gall, who missed the final exam because she didn't pay attention to the syllabus or the gazillion announcements in class as to when it was. When she came begging to make it up, I reminded her that the syllabus indicates YOU CANNOT MISS THE FINAL EXAM. The little snot filed a grade complaint, which was later denied and her grade kept the same as I had given it. But here's the kicker---a few weeks later she came to me because she couldn't get into one of my higher-level classes since she had not passed my introductory course....would I be willing to waive the prerequisite for her? Um, I would rather stick a fork in my eye. In my other one too.

Bitsy Bladder, who came into class 15 minutes late every day, only to get up to "use the restroom" 15 minutes after that, and then leave 10 minutes early. I'd like to think that her skin-tight-camel-toe-creating jeans were pressing on her bladder and thus causing her to have bathroom issues, but it's more likely they were just cutting off oxygen to her already atrophied brain.

Gordon-Needs-A-Guide, who called me in my office 10 minutes after the final exam ended to leave a loud and rude message on my voicemail that said, "Your study guide was bogus. You had stuff on there that wasn't on the exam, and stuff on the exam that wasn't on the study guide. That's not fair! That's not how study guides are supposed to work!!!" Thanks to you dipshit, I will no longer be giving out study guides. Hope your friends kick your ass when I mention this in class.

Heartbroken Hattie, who found a way to relate every single topic covered in class to her loser ex-boyfriend. The sheer number of eyes rolling every time she opened her mouth almost made me motion sick.

Ralphing Rita, who missed the last 3 weeks of the semester due to "drinking too much" and then called the day before the final exam, asking if I would reserve a classroom and teach her everything she missed. Rita, if I did that, I would be the one with the drinking problem.

And finally, Ludditic Lisa, an online student who emailed me 3 weeks into the semester and said, "I'm not sure I'm getting this online class thing. I'm not very good with computers. I don't even have one."

Raising Ambitions: The Challenge in Teaching at Community Colleges

Three years ago, Eduardo Vianna, a professor at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, had a student who passed an entire semester without speaking in class. Like many others, the student, Mike Rifino, had come to LaGuardia requiring remedial instruction.

But the following semester Mr. Rifino turned up in Dr. Vianna’s developmental psychology course. This time he took a seat closer to the front of the room. Taking that as a positive sign, Dr. Vianna asked him to join a weekly discussion group for students who might want to talk about big ideas in economics, education and politics, subjects that might cultivate a sense of intellectual curiosity and self-understanding among students whose backgrounds typically left them lacking in either.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

An All Time RYS Flashback. 9 Years Ago Today.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Mini Manifesto From Maine.

A tenured professor in the arts at a public college in Maine sends this along:

Okay, if we're going to be all feel-goody for next year, here are some rules I want the students to play by:

If I ask you to read a book, or go to a gallery, or watch a video, I really mean it. It's not just some random thought I've had. My assignments are designed to raise your level of knowledge. If I assign it, it's a real thing. It's not just being all ‘teacherly.’

When someone else is talking in class, addressing class - even if it's me - that means you are to shut your pie hole and listen in. When I ask you a question, I'm asking a serious question, one that has to do with your ability to pass the class. It's not optional. It's not as if I said, ‘Uh, Marcella, if you don't want to I'll understand, but would you care to tell me what you know about cubism?’ I mean, ‘Tell me what you know about cubism from my handouts, the textbook, the film I showed, and the gallery we walked through for 2 hours last week.

Your life in this class hangs in the balance.’ I think my field, my class, and my life work is important. When you make fun of it, or tell me that you just took this class for fun because it's so much easier than your major, it makes me think you're an idiot. And that's not really what you want out of this relationship.”

Our classes end at 50 or 30 minutes past the hour, depending on the class and the day. I can keep you in your desks until that time if I choose. When it's 9:45, and you're hungry, or Mitch is waiting at the Commons, I really don't want to hear you start shuffling around and slamming stuff into your bookbag. If I cheated you out of 30 seconds on a test, you'd likely call the Dean's office.

I won't know your final grade for the semester until nearly the end of the semester. Your grade up until that point - you should imagine - is an F. You have to WORK to earn a grade. You have NOTHING at the beginning, and you have you do work in here to EARN points and EARN a grade. If you ask me in week three what your grade is, it's going to be an F. It'll be an F until about the 13th week. There's no way in the world I'm going to GUESS a grade for you so that you can relax and concentrate on Economics or something.

Literasy, Amirite?

A majority of students training at scores of New York colleges to become teachers flunked a literacy test they have to pass to be licensed, new figures show.

The state Board of Regents for the first time is requiring would-be teachers to pass the Academic Literacy Skills exam.
It measures whether a prospective teacher can understand and analyze reading material and also write competently. The results show many don’t belong anywhere near a classroom.

At Boricua College in The Bronx, 13 students took the literacy test. Not a single one passed.

At a half-dozen City University campuses, about half or more failed to make the grade.

More Misery.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

From Adjunct Assistance.

Grading, Teaching and Learning

How do you know you are grading your students fairly? Do your students grades reflect your performance as a teacher? What can you learn about your students’ learning from the class grade distribution?

College Student Grade Distributions

You say you are not a mathematics teacher. The word “statistics” strikes fear in your heart. I will try to simplify this subject for you.

We all know a little bit about statistics, right? Average? Okay, that is a good place to start. What is the average grade your students earned on the last test? What is the average grade your students are earning for the course? Does it seem reasonable? If the average works out to a B or C, things may be in order. Or, they may not be. This is where grade distribution comes into play.
If ¼ of your students are averaging 98 percent (high A’s) and ¾ of them are averaging 66 percent (mid D range), the average grade is (trust me on this) 74 percent (mid C range). The fact that a significant number of students get very good grades does not necessarily mean that the other students deserve the poor grades they are earning. It is all too easy to rationalize that if some students do well, you are doing well as an instructor. However, more likely than not, you have a problem you need to address.

Why Would the Majority of Students Fail?

If you graph your students’ grades on a simple bar chart, some interesting information may emerge. Look at Grade Distribution 1 on the right.  What conclusions would you draw?
Perhaps you have had classes like this.  If so, did you conclude that 25 percent A’s was a good thing?  Did you question why so many students failed?  Why might that be?
Some of the reasons why a large number of students got A’s while twice that number failed are:
  • There were two different groups of students – those who worked hard and studied and those who did not apply themselves.
  • One fourth of your students could teach themselves.  You only needed to tell them what they needed to learn, and they did the rest.
  • Half of the students could not learn in your class.  You may not have appealed to their diverse learning styles.  You may not have answered their questions in a way they could understand.  You may not assessed their learning “on the run.”  We call that formative assessment.
My point is this.  You may have missed the opportunity to help many of your students.  If you care about your students, this is definitly an aspect of teaching that you want to focus on.

Folkchurch Flashback Flashback

I was feeling like a little Sam Folkchurch to mark the season, and didn't see any queued up, so:

2013 flashback here

Happy holidays of whatever kind you celebrate -- or not -- to all!  And commiserations to anyone still toiling away at grading, online teaching, and/or side jobs necessary to keep the wolf from the door.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Parents, Amirite?

Lori Osterberg and her husband are lifelong Denver folk, but they got restless and intended to relocate for adventure's sake once their only child left home for college.

Well, long story short, they did that. Sort of.

Rather than following the sun down to Mexico, they followed their daughter to Portland, Oregon, where she is a sophomore. While still taking long weekends and other trips to Canada and California, the couple bought an apartment near campus that all three share.

"We're calling it our gap year. We're here for now, with the possibility of extending throughout her college career," Osterberg said. "We're taking it one year at a time."

From the UC-Riverside Highlander.

Grade Grub

Grade grubbing is the process of constantly seeking out professors or TAs to keep meticulous track of your grades. Grade grubbing is a serious art. It requires diligence and consistency. It may sound important because it actually is, especially to students who want to keep track of their academics. Do you have the symptoms of grade grubbing?

If you wait for your professor after everyone disperses after class to ask them about your grade multiple times a week you may fit in that category. If you go to office hours despite having a good grip on the material just to reinforce to your TA that you are a good student, it’s also likely you suffer from grade grubbing. Be wary that this isn’t a sure-fire method to excellent grades. It is actually a double-edged sword.

You don’t want to annoy teachers and antagonize them. Bombarding professors with requests or further inquires about a 10-point assignment will only make it worse — professors are veterans at weeding out brown-nosers from stressed students.

However, grade grubbing can be the last resort to make it out by the skin of your teeth (insert war flashbacks for those who barely made it out of language courses). Maybe don’t wait for professors after every class like their daytime stalker, but try to go to office hours, so they do see you are trying to make an effort. Having good rapport with a TA or professor is better than not having one at all: They will remember your name when doing final grades, and hopefully do it with a smile rather than a scowl.

Other Shit.

MIT Instructor gets serenaded by pirates at the end of a Quantum Mechanics lecture. From a longtime reader.

Here's a vidschizzle.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Simpsons, Amirite?

Bart and Lisa Simpson have been in elementary school for 25 years. But that hasn’t stopped them from showing up on college campuses.

Universities across the country are using satirical references from “The Simpsons” to grab students’ attention and convey lessons in literature and all manner of popular culture.

“If the references are important enough to be lampooned by ‘The Simpsons,’ these works must be important cultural milestones,” says Hofstra University adjunct English professor Richard Pioreck, who has been incorporating the denizens of Springfield into his courses for about a decade.

He currently teaches a course about the Broadway theater and how “The Simpsons” have embraced various musicals and plays. Next semester, he shifts to an online literature course titled “The D’oh of Homer” that includes readings from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” — all referenced in “Simpsons” episodes.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Baptist Kids, Amirite?

Five Georgetown college students are facing serious charges after police say they were with a teen who drank a dangerous amount of alcohol.

All five were taken to jail for what could have been a very close call, a potentially deadly one, police said.

Police say that the 16-year-old boy was drinking Fireball Whiskey inside Anderson Hall with his sister, Chandi Wilson, and four other Georgetown College students early Sunday.

All five are charged with second degree wanton endangerment and unlawful transaction with a minor third. Charges against one of the students were dismissed.

Officers say they were with the teen when he downed a fifth of whiskey and was so drunk his alcohol level was three times the legal limit. But somehow he managed to call 911. That's a good thing, police say, because if he didn't, he may have died. Officers say they got to him just in time.

"They found the juvenile there at the scene, highly intoxicated and he had vomited all over himself. And immediately, medical attention was given to him, said Lt. Jason Whitaker.

Police say all involved are underage and should not have been drinking. | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Ten Little Snowflakes

Snowflake #1: Listen here, you smug little fucker: I've been teaching writing since 1994 and I can fucking tell when you switch to a font that takes up more space and fuck with the margins to stretch your three and a quarter page piece of shit essay to the bare minimum of four pages after having a FUCKING MONTH TO WRITE IT. You didn't follow the fucking assignment directions anyway. Have fun with your D.

Snowflake #2: You haven't looked at feedback--which I damn near killed myself to turn around in less than two weeks for every major assignment--all semester long, but you're not sure why you're getting a D-? Oh, and you're already signed up to take the same course with me next semester? Great. Merry Christmas to me.

Snowflake#3: You flunked the second essay, but I took care to tell you that you'd have the opportunity to rewrite it for a new grade when you turned in the final portfolio. You turned in your third and final essay in a file format I can't open, and you still haven't checked your fucking email wherein I told you that you have til Monday 12/22 to turn in the work in a fucking format I can fucking open. I suppose the email you sent me in November (coincidentally on the last day to drop) where you said "I didn't go to college to learn how to write but if passing this class will get me to what I want to be learning then I'm going to try my hardest," should have clued me in that you weren't actually going to do the work to pass. You didn't bother with revision, either. Big fucking surprise.

Snowflake #4: This is your second fucking run through this class. Why is your shit late AGAIN? You are bright. What the fuck is your problem?

Snowflake #5: Just fucking forget it. I hate you.

Snowflake#6: You showed up on the first day of class, and you turned in the signature page from the syllabus for 5 points. Then you never came to another class. You ignored all the emails I sent you telling you to come to class, then telling you to drop by the drop date. You're fucking contesting your continued listing in the class? Fuck you. I don't have the power to drop non-performing students. Because we want to give every little precious snowflake the chance to pass. Not that you would have.

Snowflake#7: Enjoy your C. I never want to see you again, ever.

Snowflake #8: Why are you in college? Go work a terrible job like your classmate over there, who gets paid $8/hour to manage an entire fast-food restaurant and still comes to class every day with her work done, including the day after said restaurant burned to the ground (not her fault).

Snowflake #9: Why didn't you fucking drop this class when I sent out the warning in October? I told you, baldly, that you could not have a hope of passing my class because you didn't turn in the first 100 point assignment, and I don't take late work. You stayed in the class even when I sent the notice before the drop date. Then, just after the drop date, you stopped coming to class, but you didn't drop. You are stupid.

Snowflake #10: You came to class, mostly, and turned in work. Some of it was even B-level, which indicates your ability. But you didn't pass the class--because you thought you could just turn in some shit for a final essay (after turning in a straight list of sources in place of an annotated bibliography, for which you justly earned an F). You spent more than a little time texting while I was talking, so maybe that's why. Enjoy having to pay to take this fucking class again. And please don't take it with me. Because I will nail your ass to the wall if you do.

I think that about covers it. The rest of my 100 or so students were pretty cool, and because I like the material I teach, *I* had a good time in class.

I hope everyone is either a) done grading or b) getting close to done. I've quit for the day and I'm about to make myself a brandy old-fashioned (sweet).

Newsweek. Right Fucking On Top Of It.

As colleges and universities compete to attract students, they frequently advertise their star faculty members—acclaimed intellectuals or business and professional leaders, maybe even a few Nobel Prize winners. What they don’t say is that more and more teaching is done by a growing underclass in academia: part-time and contract workers receiving low pay and little job security.

Today almost two-thirds of faculty at all accredited colleges and universities in the United States are nontenured, according to the Center for the Study of Academic Labor at Colorado State University. That wasn’t always the case. Nontenured faculty made up less than half of faculty employed at degree-granting institutions in 1975, according to the American Association of University Professors. (AAUP)

At the same time, the cost of college has been rising. Over a 10 year period ending in 2012, average tuition, including room, board and fees for full-time undergraduate students at all degree-granting institutions, increased 33 percent, to $19,339, after adjusting for inflation, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Most nontenured faculty positions are part time and pay a few thousand dollars per course, without any health or retirement benefits. Pay for nontenured faculty can vary widely, but a full-time instructor, who is typically on a non tenure track, earns on average 40 percent of the average pay of a full professor, according to the AAUP.

More Breaking News.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I'm Not Worried.

End of finals email.:

Dear Professor I_am_not_nice:

I didn't study well for any tests this semester. Don't let my failure bring you down at all.

Failing Freddy

If sitting at the bar with delicious food, bourbon, dark beer, and much rejoicing is an indication of my being brought down, I want to be brought down, well, every damn day.

Really, It's OK.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Proffie Galore Is Spanning the Web For News. How About Some Bill Cosby Dissertation Info?

Bill Cosby Paid ‘Fat Albert’ Writers To Write His Doctoral Thesis

Bill Cosby
After acquiring his postgraduate degree from UMass, Expense Cosby made it an indicate be an additional unique asshole about it and required everybody describe him as “Dr. Cosby” also though the validity of that degree was being cast doubt on as early as 1985. Which didn’t quit him from lecturing an African-American football player to the point of splits for not acquiring a 4.0 when he finished from Notre Dame. Yet given that then, the Washington Post did some digging right into Cosby’s bullshit level and also located out he essentially received credit for being on Sesame Road and also The Electric Company as well as just had to write a dissertation concerning Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids, his very own TV show. Except he could not even do that because last night The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon tweeted that Cosby paid two Fat Albert writers to compose his thesis

Orange City Forecast.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

For Those Of You Poor Bastards Who Teach Them AND Raise Them. 5 Ways to Deal With the College Kids Coming Home. From HuffPo.

4. The kids are used to staying out late and being accountable to no one. Here, I feel that when they are home they should follow your rules. They may want to argue with you on this one, but hold your ground. Home is home and YOU set the rules. Got me on this one? Safety is your number one priority.

The Rest.

This Week's Big Thirsty.

If you could ask the 12 disgruntled
community college adjuncts who read the page anything,
what would it be?

Anatomy of a College Application. An Infographic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ask Adam: A New VidShizzle. "What advice would you give yourself about grad school?"

Oberlin, Amirite? #2


Oberlin, Amirite?

Alex Trebek for President!

Well if he can't be president, at least Secretary of Education:

Alex Trebek refused to rewrite history to spare sore loser the embarrassment of having been a sore loser.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Student / Parents, Amirite?

Americans have a very specific set of stereotypes about undergraduate education, which these days likely involves some mutter-muttering about those dang millennials. But the college experience isn't so monolithic. For instance: 26 percent of undergrads are already raising children.

4/4 to 5/5, with no additional compensation

Recent developments at Arizona State*, sadly, pretty much sum up current trends in higher ed:

  • Admit more and more undergrads, and express great commitment to providing them with a
    high-quality, affordable education; increasing their writing and critical-thinking skills; retaining them through a timely graduation; etc., etc.  
  • Staff foundational courses, including freshman comp, with severely overworked, underpaid faculty (a considerable number of them your own recent grad-school graduates). 
  • When you can't supply enough seats at the wages you're willing to pay, raise the caps in those classes.  When that still doesn't do the trick, pay some of the faculty to work an overload.  
  • When you need still more seats at a yet cheaper price, decide that the overload (with the raised caps, but minus the additional compensation) should become standard practice, and that faculty teaching your gateway classes no longer need to do service (i.e. think or talk to each other about what they're doing, and why, and the effect of their choices on the student experience). 
  • Wash, rinse, repeat until -- the faculty finally quit?  students stop entering grad school and the faculty who were teaching grad classes become available to teach freshman comp?  all but the sharpest, most independent first-year students drift vaguely away?  the retention software (and/or retention office/dean) implode(s)?  ??????? 

*One of things I like about this article is that it mentions the long-ignored ADE and CCCC recommendations that a writing teacher's load be no more than 2-3 classes of 15-20 students, for a total of no more than  60 students per term.  Sadly, it also relates that the CCCC has now removed those numbers from its guidelines.  It's generally an excellent article, with an unusually high density of thoughtful quotes from various interviewees, and useful links, including one to a petition.  Even the comments (so far) are mostly pretty good. 

6 Years Ago on RYS.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"The Regulars." Dana From Decatur Examines the Teacher Popularity / End of Semester Axis.

I am, as it turns out, insanely popular. I spent most of the semester thinking that my students considered me a useless waste of space. But for some reason, when December 1 rolled around, they all started talking to me. I mean, they’re staying after class, they’re COMING to class, they’re emailing me incessantly…I guess they really love me after all.

I can’t quite figure out how to use my new found popularity. I could, of course, try to get the nomination for Homecoming Queen that I never quite managed in high school. I have a feeling these kids would nominate me for about anything right now. I could also just laze around, watching them scatter and genuflect around me like little drones. That might be pretty fun. Or, I could go fishing for some compliments and see who will be the first to tell me how much they “loved my class,” and that I’m “the best teacher they’ve ever had.” And to think, just a few short weeks ago I was staring at a bunch of blank expressions, rolling eyes, and under-table text-messaging! Ah, what a difference December makes.

It’s just so odd. I mean, up to this point, I’m pretty sure they thought they knew everything, and I knew nothing. But now, they clamor for my advice and input. They treat me like someone who has something to offer. They admit that they don’t have a clue. I can’t possibly say why they’ve changed their minds about me. Of course, it would be insulting to imply that this has anything to do with the looming end-of-term grades I’m about to dole out on the poor little suckers. I’m sure they’ve just seen the light, with no kind of ulterior motivation.

For now, though, I’m enjoying this far too much to worry about such things. I will let them flounder and flap, enjoying my three weeks in the sun, letting them think that they might be making some kind of meaningful progress with me. What’s that, Lazy Lucy? You can’t tell me how much this class has helped you? That’s wonderful! How’s that, Slacker Steve? You’ve really appreciated all my patience with you, and you think that I’m a great instructor? Super! And you, Asshole Aaron? You really think that I might have been right about that first paper after all? Fantastic! Keep it coming, kids. Your grades will remain absolutely unchanged, but keep it coming. If only it could be December all year round.

Yik Yak Take-Back. From InsideHigherEd.

In the stressful final days of a long and trying semester, Colgate University professors wanted to spread some love. To get the message across, they turned to a social media scene frequented by students but foreign to many professors.

They set out to take back Yik Yak by flooding the anonymous social media app with happy thoughts.

Yik Yak -- like the many “confessions websites” before it -- is associated with campus-specific hateful comments and cyber bullying.
“It started there, and we wanted to end it there,” said Eddie Watkins, an associate professor of biology at Colgate.

Racist comments on Yik Yak were responsible in part for tensions at Colgate in September that led a group of students to stage a multi-day sit-in to protest the university’s lack of diversity. Insulting -- and at times threatening -- comments reappeared on the app's Colgate page (and elsewhere) in recent weeks as people across the country have organized to protest grand jury decisions in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police.

During the September sit-in, associate biology professor Geoff Holm knew faculty members who posted tried to spread some Colgate campus love on Yik Yak. But individually, their comments weren’t very influential.

He thought a unified effort to spread positive thoughts would be more effective, and he suggested the idea last week to a few friends who are faculty members.

The Rest.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Okay, So They May Have a Point Here.

Despite emerging evidence otherwise, many college students consider hookah smoking safer than smoking cigarettes, reports a University of South Florida (USF) College of Public Health study published this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study, appearing online in the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease, examined the prevalence of hookah use and described social and behavioral factors associated with hookah smoking among students at USF, a large urban public university in Tampa, Fla. The research suggests that future public health campaigns address misunderstandings about the risks associated with hookah use as well as the regulation of such alternative nicotine-delivery devices.

"The biggest surprise was the misperception about the dangers of hookah smoking," said Jaime Corvin, PhD, USF assistant professor of global health and principal investigator for the study. "In general, the students we surveyed thought it was safer than cigarette smoking. They did not know the risks."

The Rest.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

6 things professors wish they could tell their students, but never do. From USA Today's Voices From Campus.


For starters, some students avoid speaking to or even making eye contact with the professor they’re seeking help from. Many students never stop to chat after class or come by during office hours to talk. They don’t take me up on offers to grab lunch and talk about careers, networking and the like.
And when students do interact with me, they don’t ask enough questions – let alone the “right” questions. If they did, it would allow me to be completely honest and helpful. Students who are serious about achieving success in the workplace should frequently ask for feedback on style, manners, demeanor, leadership qualities, work habits, speaking abilities, networking – you get the idea.
Many students go out of their way to avoid dealing with their professors. But it’s useless to expect a professor to give valuable advice to an almost-complete stranger.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

EC1 Sends in That Xmas present for the gumdrop unicorn in your life.

What to get your good friend who loves to party and always covers herself in glitter?

Well, in the messed up world that is the internet, you can now purchase rainbow glitter pills.

Now, in the item’s description it doesn’t specify that you are supposed to eat the things, but the whole ‘pill’ name does imply a product intended for oral consumption.

And the glitter is described as non-toxic. Do with that information what you will.

You can also purchase these rather festive gold glitter pills.Just in case, you know, you ever want golden sparkly poop.


More Test Anxiety.

UCLA law students traumatized by exam question about Ferguson. So professor discounted answers to the question after complaints.

Some students at the UCLA School of Law have expressed concerns after a professor asked an exam question this week relating to the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Mo.

The exam, given by Professor Robert Goldstein in Constitutional Law II, asked students to write a memo related to the Ferguson shooting. Some students who took the exam said they found it difficult to write about the incident in terms of the first amendment while ignoring issues such as police brutality….

Hussain Turk, a second-year law student who took the exam, said he thinks the question was problematic because he thinks exams should not ask students to address controversial events. He added that he thinks the question was more emotionally difficult for black students to answer than for other students.

“These kinds of questions create a hostile learning environment for students of color, especially black students who are already disadvantaged by the institution,” Turk said.

Goldstein apologized for the question in an email.


From the Bruin.

They Can't Add Up Their Quiz Scores. Why Is THIS Surprising? Turnt Up Tony Sends This In.

A surprisingly large number of currently enrolled college students severely underestimate their student debt, with many students not realizing that they have any loan debt at all, according to a new report from the Brookings Institute.

The Brookings report — called "Are College Students Borrowing Blindly?" — charted current college students' knowledge of their own student debt. The results were not optimistic.

The Rest.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Some Private Sector Misery

As part of my hiatus from teaching in the community colleges, I currently do private tutoring and also work at one of four Learning Centers that hate each other.  I never expected the hiatus to be without its share of misery.  Yet, it still sucks when it happens.  It wouldn't be misery otherwise.

About 10 weeks ago, when a parent came to us sobbing about their high school senior (whom I will refer to as "Sweetheart"), our director gladly welcomed with open arms the opportunity to turn this individual around.
You see, Sweetheart was getting an F in Algebra and hir graduation was being threatened.  To add even more mystery, mom explained that Sweetheart had been copying off the other students for answers and had been fibbing about hir performance.  On top of that, Sweetheart has been behind in math and just about everything else since about seventh grade.  Yet, it seems like mom is just learning about this now.

So, one of the Educational Coordinators met with me last night and casually brought up Sweetheart's situation.  Having utilized our expensive services for the past ten weeks, Sweetheart is still getting an F in Algebra.  We had the following conversation:

EC:  So, EMH, how did Sweetheart do tonight?

Me:  *sighing*  Well, just like I have been documenting in the communication logs regarding all the other sessions, he/she couldn't remember much of what we taught hir in the last session. He/she had no memory of what happened in class.  I'm not sure if this is a case of apathy, a learning disability, or if he/she just isn't going to class.

EC:  Yeah, well, I'm just trying to figure out how we can help hir to be successful.  I know you brought it up two weeks ago that maybe hir inability to remember what happened in class on that day may be a sign that he/she is not going to class.

Me:  Yes.  Have you been able to follow up with hir teacher about that?

EC:  No.  That kind of question may offend the teacher.

Me:  Well, we tell the parents that we regularly communicate with the teachers...

EC:  Yes, but some of the teachers get offended rather easily.  I need to meet with our Director to find out how I can word that question so as to not offend the teacher.

Me:  Well what CAN we do about this?

EC:  Well, we can place hir with a different tutor and see if he/she picks it up better.

Me:  She HAS been meeting with the other tutors.  I mean, they've been commenting about the same things in the communication logs...

Me:  *pausing* You know, there's a place where we end and he/she begins.  This may be a case of maintaining healthy boundaries, and that is an excellent way to care about a person without getting burned out.  *yes I DID just paraphrase a recent comment from one of our blog members*

EC:  Well, I guess if you have been making every effort to show different ways to do a problem and maybe even showing easier ways, then I guess you have been doing everything you are supposed to do.

EC:  *pausing*  You've been sending hir home with extra practice like we asked?

Me:  Yes, in fact he/she doesn't even do the extra practice until he/she meets with us again.  Last time, I gave hir a review assignment because he/she had that upcoming test.  I remember asking her if he/she would actually do some of the problems if I sent hir home with them.  He/she gave me this look.  *forming lemon-juice expression*

Me:  *pausing*  In fact, he/she didn't even do them let alone bring them back.  Said he/she "forgot" them at home.  Well that's okay, because I document the hell out of everything so I looked up the problem-set in the communication log and pulled out the book.  He/she did not get out of working on the problems at my table.

Me:  *pausing*  One of these days, he/she's going to ask her teacher if he/she's going to graduate and hir teacher if going to give that look.

EC:  Well, maybe we've done all we can.  I am getting ready to meet with the Director and mom to re-evaluate Sweetheart's program structure.  It's just a shame that all that work turns out to be ineffective,... especially after hir mom left that awesome review about us.

I must point out that I rarely have these experiences with my private clients.  So far, each of my clients have been able to raise their grades by about 1 or 2 marks.  That bullshit about being "too smart to teach" is exactly that.  Students know from the first session that I can only equip them for success and can only facilitate an environment where success is a possibility.  The actual attainment of that success is still THEIR responsibility.  One client approached me to thank me for getting him that A in precalculus.  I reminded him that ultimately he was the one to earn that A.  He was the one to put in that extra time.  I can only do so much.

Students who play games and otherwise fuck around with me are immediately disenrolled from my program.  There's no Dean or College President to complain to, as I am both.

Holding the Line. From Max in Manchester.

I read with great interest Hiram's latest post. I am a huge fan of his and all of the rest of the wonderful writers here. I've always been afraid to join in, though I've read since the very end of Rate Your Students.

I have been where Hiram has been in a different discipline. I extended extra help and extensions, all for the same reasons, because I believe the modern student incapable of grasping college level work early in their first years.

But I had misery after misery with these tactics. They delayed, they asked for more extensions, and when they did finally redo projects or labs, they simply did them slapdash, with virtually none of the lessons learned, none of the suggested steps added.

Better for me was to require a 24 hour turn around, while my remarks and their fear of a zero was highest. Those re-dos were always better than the open-extension ones.

Finally, long with tenure, and long tired of kissing the Dean's ass, I just flunk failing work. I'm fair; I explain why. I hold the line. Students who want to engage truly will. I believe it. I've seen it. Students who are going to be a pain and drain, well, they're going to either drop early, drop later, or simply flunk. I hate to tell you, but that's all the same to me.

If they can't or won't do the work, they do not get the grade.

Cal's Last VidShizzle of 2014.

Listen, I made a deal with Terry. He's going to let me post another video poem from my new book and I promise not to: 1) beg him to change the fonts and graphics, 2) send him 3 am emails about formatting problems I think are killing the page, 3) reveal that he in fact has an Ed.D degree.

This is the closing poem from my Spring 2015 collection, My Coolest Shirt. I'll be promoting it in Mpls/St. Paul in April at the AWP for any English / CW types who might attend.

I'm off on a bit of a lark-y golf vacation for a few weeks, so will not likely be around as the current year crashes into the next. So I will do my best Yaro impression and bid you a happy new year, glad tidings, as the string for 2014 has nearly unwound - in the manner.



Call for Spleenventing.

In Soviet Russia
the spleen vents YOU!
Should you wish to vent your spleen, please email your cranky epistles to the Real Goddamned Moderator.

We also accept the occasional light-hearted shrug of the shoulders type of post, or the rambling, incoherent babbling of someone either on acid or in the middle of grading 45 essays that all begin with, "In today's society..."

We don't mind linked articles. Some people hate them. But not us. We like them. But we ask you provide a little commentary. That way if we disagree with your take on it we can call you a pinhead with authority.

If you're fed up with the job market - or with job candidates - try us. If you're an adjunct ready to bomb the college that's fucking you for $2000 a class, send us your last will and testament so there's a record of it.

If you just want to let us know you're out there, still struggling, still a righteous believer, then we need that, too.

Angst? Natch. Ennui, even better. We do it all. Country and western.


Protest at Primal Scream Leads to Chaotic Exchange. From the Crimson.

A group of about 30 students attempted to hold a silent demonstration in the first minutes of Primal Scream, a biannual naked run around Harvard Yard, early Thursday morning, inadvertently leading to a chaotic exchange of words and gestures that reversed the usual direction of the run and left many questioning the significance of the heated interaction.

The run is a College tradition in which students, at times inebriated, run naked around the Yard on the eve of the first day of exams. It usually attracts more than a hundred participants.

Protesters said that their goal was not to protest Primal Scream itself, but to hold a four-and-a-half minute period of silence before the run for Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner of New York—two unarmed black men who were killed by white police officers this summer—and to join in solidarity for people around the nation who have experienced racism. The organizers of the demonstration had posted a Facebook event describing their plans for the protest ahead of the event.