Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I just wanted to eat dinner

Yesterday was one of those days where my job prevented me from doing basic things like eat food. That makes me want to scream, or maybe it just makes me cranky, I don't know.

I was getting ready to go and have dinner on campus before attending choir rehearsal when an instructor showed up with a giant stack of papers and student projects. Our Writing Center allows instructors to bring those to us for students to pick up when the term is done (so really, I would have expected them four weeks ago, but whatever) because a couple terms ago we had reason to believe that one of our full time faculty hadn't read the final papers at all. Actually, we know she didn't. Proof, however, was harder to find. My solution, since she couldn't be otherwise disciplined, was to start a system where those papers had to be graded and read and dropped off here to be handed back. It's not perfect, but everybody is at least reading the darn things again now.

Shortly after the teacher dropped off the papers I get a call from one of her students. She was about ten minutes from campus and wanted to pick it up. I told her I'd either be here or eating soup, and that either way find me and I'd card her and hand back her work. She is not the suck.

In fact, the student that then showed up a few minutes after we close seeking help with his personal narrative draft isn't the suck either. He was courteous and polite and probably would have let me leave to eat. But paper pick up girl hadn't shown up, so I told him I'd help him brainstorm in the meantime.

The suck is the instructor who told this guy to go to the Writing Center at all. We have bookmarks that every instructor is supposed to give the students with our hours and website to schedule appointments on (yay WCOnline!) displayed prominently. This instructor not only didn't give the students those, she also told them that if they showed up after hours that somebody would probably still help them. I wondered why the Learning Center staff was still covering so much overflow from us (they have more funding and are open later) and now I know--and I'm pretty angry about it. Comparing records, nearly all our after hours overflow comes from her class.

As I was finishing up with him, still in time to slurp down soup and get to the shuttle to go back to my car to get to choir rehearsal, another older gentleman shows up. This one needs APA format. We recently switched to using 6th edition in all our classes. His teacher doesn't know how to do the header for it (since it includes a section break) because she didn't show up for the mandatory training. Fabulous. I know this, he doesn't. He barely knows how to use a computer and yet he has to turn in his response tomorrow with perfect APA formatting including this nasty header.

Look, it's my rule--we're not supposed to do it for them. But I told him I was in a hurry. I helped him do his cover page and double space what he had already typed. Then you know what I did? I grabbed the mouse and did that damned header for him and told him he needed to set up an appointment during normal hours to come back and learn how to do it the right way.

And then I sent an e-mail to his teacher suggesting that she do the same. It's the first week of class, expecting sterling perfect pretty APA from your students isn't fair anyway. However, if you don't know it yourself, expect me to come after you with the manual and offer a beatdown. With the manual. It's pretty light compared to the 5th edition though, so I might just have to bring both for good measure.

Neither of these students were snowflakes, I can't emphasize this enough. They were apologetic for taking my time and sort of surprised that their instructors had suggested they do something that so obviously wouldn't have worked if I hadn't been staying late anyway.

It's a long sad day when the students respect and value my time more than instructors do. Yes, I'm an admin. However, I still teach, I still tutor, and I still try to remain as connected to both the teachers and students as I possibly can. I may make jokes about living here, but at the very least if I live here I should be allowed to eat here too!


  1. i would have let the soup and the sandwich spray all over the printed essay. "tell your instructor what hours we're open."

  2. The instructor knows, and it doesn't matter to her. She's an adjunct, and is the last possible person we offer classes to, but it had to happen this term. Both students are now scheduled for appointments during normal hours. However, I don't see it as their fault. They both came in in hopes of getting help, but did not demand it. They weren't sure we'd be able to at all on short notice. But they didn't wait till the last minute, they were courteous, and were willing to get down and work in a time crunch against what are somewhat unrealistic expectations (rough draft of major essay due on the second day of a twice a week class during first week, APA with no instruction, etc.) Like I said, if their teachers only treated the writing center as well the tutors and myself wouldn't dislike the teachers nearly that much!


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