Saturday, September 25, 2010

We should stop posting about this stuff before "Instant Gratification Disorder" becomes a recognized diagnosis, but...

They let the wombat off copy duty and now I can post.  For Realsies? reminded me of the last week of summer session.  Summer session is like the honors section of "Snowflake Management 101".  
I don't generally grade reports one-off, because it's faster to grade all of the abstracts for experiment-1, then all of the intros for experiment-1 etc. assembly line style (it also helps me lose track of what name is on which report, because like Ben, it's better for them if I don't have their face in mind with the pen in my hand).  But if someone turns in something early, I'm usually willing to grade theirs early so they have a shot for a re-write before the real due date.  (1 re-write per assignment, though, because in my younger days I was inadvertently writing their reports for them by the time draft #5 came in). 

So five kids were waiting after class the 3rd from the last day.  They asked if I could grade their reports for them.  It takes 15-20 minutes to grade a report, so I said yes, but that it would be a while.  I was specific.  I said "It takes 15-20 minutes to grade each report, so you all have to wait until I'm done.  OK?"  Ok.  They sat at the next lab table talking about how much work they had to do for the imminent lecture course final.  They sat at the next table with their bags full of learning materials... old tests, textbooks, notes and review sheets and shit like that.  They sat there as a group for almost an hour talking about their insurmountable pile of work, and it never crossed their minds that they could.... open their fucking books and do some of it!!  Seriously, can you think of a better time to study than when you and four other grade grubbers (hey probably have anal retentive overly color coded notes just like you, but maybe they know something you don't! You always think there's something being withheld from you.  Ask the other grade grubbers, they probably know what it is, or hey, how could they get the same As you're getting when you're the greatest thing to happen to academia since Guttenberg?) are sitting in the lab, next to another professor, with all of your shit, and no way to leave? 

But I digress.  Just past the 45 minute mark, one of them started pacing around me.  Then another... at the 1-hour mark, all five of them were staring at me like dogs watching someone cook bacon, that they know they would love, but they know aren’t going to get.

Two days later was the last day, the last day to turn in reports for full credit, the last day to turn in passed-due reports for partial credit, the last day to turn in the extra credit project.  I sat in a common space for six hours so students could turn their piles of crap between finals.  There were TWO piles on the table that were over a foot tall each.  I sat there grading as they came in. 

Some of the stuff was a month old already.  And Summer session is in dog years, so that month really matters. 

One of the grubbers came in two minutes before the deadline with several re-writes.  Ok, fine, whatever, A isn't good enough for her, she needs A-imaginary-plus (since we don't do A+ here).  Then she asked when grades would be ready.  I said "Monday" (it was Thursday).  She wrinkled up her face and said "really?" like I had just said "I like it when my husband wears my panties and spanks the neighbor's dog."  I didn't respond except to look at the piles and go back to grading. 

A B student I like came in 45 seconds before the deadline with the village idiot.  VI had every assignment for the entire course.  "I know these are like late and stuff and that you only do partial credit for that, but that's cool, so thanks for that" (which I should appreciate, because some kids don’t get that it’s not that I’m taking away half of their points, it’s that I’m giving them back half… ) "I just need a D in this class because anything but an F can transfer, but the grade won't count anymore... [insert TMI about where VI is going in the Fall] but they need the grade by tomorrow so I can register." B student grasped him by the shoulders and said "Dude, I know by the time you realize what you just said, it'll be too late, so just say 'sorry', 'thanks' and 'have a nice summer' and let's get out of here." then B student winked at me and they left. 

Then I packed up and left and "didn't see" another jack ass in pursuit of A-imaginary-plus chasing after me as I got in my car.  (If that kid even had an outside chance of getting an A-, I'd have stopped and taken his stupidly unnecessary extra credit project, but fuck these morons who can ace chemistry, but can't calculate “5 reports * 17.5 minutes/ report” or the average of 5 100s.)


  1. Marking gradflake proposals this morning. They have ignored my instructions, the instructions contained in an article about writing empirical articles, and the APA manual. The assignment is worth 10 points. Oh, the zeros they will earn! Oh, how can I be so heartless?! Oh, however can I expect future professional listeners to follow instructions?! Woe! Woe is me...but it sucks to be them. :)

  2. There is, at times, an inverse proportion between the amount of money a student (or his/her parent) spends on 'organizational aids' like Vera Bradley paper folios (no, really) and those little Post-It arrows etc AND the amount of time the student SPENDS studying.

  3. One reason to have an active research program is that it gives a plausible excuse to avoid much of this. No, I can't attend your every, every need right this minute, because I have other responsibilities that demand my attention. Some of these involve other students.

    I never let students "stand by" when I grade, no more than I would let them watch me when I grade. I also never hand back work early: I use cite fairness and privacy concerns, which I think are valid, anyway. Doesn't FERPA have something to say about this? If students want to turn in work early, fine, but I'll return it at the same time I return the same work to all the other students. If they think I'm too slow, I tell them that I read every word carefully. That ought to hold the little bastards.

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  5. " 'I like it when my husband wears my panties and spanks the neighbor's dog.' "

    Wait. You don't like that?

    *Takes off panties and lets dog out.*

    I really wished you had told me sooner.

  6. With students either I'm in class working with them or actively discussing some particular thing in my office. They NEVER see me work, grade, eat, etc.

  7. > They NEVER see me work, grade, eat, etc.

    Point well taken. I should stop letting my students see me eat. Just yesterday, I was having dinner in the student union (not the best of ideas, but convenient), and some snotnose comes up to me, and wants me to help him with his physics homework, even though (get this) I don't teach the course he's taking, nor any closely related courses, and never have.

    Mistake 2 was that I helped him: it was such a simple problem, it was less aggravation than arguing. I ought to have said to him, "Gee, I knew not to disturb an elder while eating when I was 12 years old. What is WRONG with you?!?"


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