Thursday, September 3, 2015

Amelia on Getting Started.

I am teaching the merry band of freshpersons this semester, and had a student come up and show me a first draft of a paper, telling me "I looked it up, and you're a hard grader." Guess where he looked it up.

In the past couple of semesters, I've had a few whingy reviews on that site that must not be named, relating to how the class is so hard, so much work, etc. On the one hand, that's kind of the humblebrag of the homo professoricus. On the other, though, it scares future students and we all know that some people over and around you look at that stuff and judge you.

Those whingy reviews, though, are almost always a few weeks into the semester. By the end, we really are a merry band, filled with wiser freshpersons who, on at least some level, realize that effort does lead to reward. Those reviews from the first few weeks last forever.

So I am now in this delicate balance at the start of the semester. I've found I can't have a gentle warm-up, or the students get complacent, and then feisty when you try to push them later. I want the start of the semester to be very rigorous, both in terms of expectations and assessments because they then work hard all semester.

But I don't want to push them off into whining permanent things into the ether.

Should have stayed in those gymnastics classes as a kid...


  1. I like reviews that say I give difficult exams. I consider it fair warning and maybe it'll scare away some deadwood.

  2. I got a couple of "I've heard your sections are hard" comments in answer to my usual "any questions or concerns?" inquiry on the intro questionnaire, but without the "looked it up" part. It's been a while since I checked TSTSNBN; I should probably do so sometime soon. I'm not too worried, but it helps that I teach a required class that almost every student has to take, and that fills quickly. If one student drops after checking TSTSNBN, another will take hir place.

  3. I also like reviews that say I give difficult exams, and am a tough grader. I wear their scorn as a badge of honor!

    1. Also: Freshpersons, you say? Hard to believe that we all involved from such simple forms of life.