Student e-mail sent late last night
Hi, I missed our first discussion class on the 23rd because I had thought that I was going to get into Professor B's weaving class till then, so I've been going to his class and discussion sections. However, I dropped that class and decided to take this class instead.
Did I miss anything last monday?
Fact 1- I am the TA in this class, not the instructor of record, possessing my e-mail is evidence that they possess the syllabus
Fact 2- the 23rd was after the add/drop period ended
Fact 3- The first exam is Wednesday
This lovely little flake is delightfully screwed! How shall I tell her? Techno-jargon about what we covered? See me in class, even though she likely has no idea what I look like? Should I mention the exam?
Other delightful ideas?
Invite her to your office hours. Particularly if your office hours are on Thursday, after the exam.ReplyDelete
Tell them exactly what you told us, but be polite about it. Stick to the facts.ReplyDelete
more or less what I did... but I know I can count on you guys to appreciate the schadenfreudic glee I had at "did I miss anything?"Delete
Since you're a TA and not, as you put it, the instructor of record, you could always forward the email to your course director and politely ask how she/he suggests you respond to this.ReplyDelete
From past experience, if she/he is tenured (and sympathetic to the misery), she/he could very well tell Flaky McFlakerson how very fucked they are (and possibly even cc you in the process).
except the instructor is a adjunct who is younger than myself with less teaching experience. I'm more qualified, she's got the doctorate. Which totally makes me bad cop for the semester, as well as content police for when she says something wrong in lecture.Delete
Whatever you do, don't reply until Monday, 8 am.ReplyDelete
I like the "just the facts" approach -- and yes, no later than 8 am tomorrow (preferably 9). Another basic rule: never repeat anything in response to a "what did I miss?" email that can be found on the syllabus or another handout. If handouts aren't already available on a LMS, attaching files with lots of detailed ones can be a good way to respond to "did I miss anything important?" emails. Always be sure to tell them they can email you with any questions after reading the handouts.ReplyDelete
Since I've got a detailed schedule and other handouts posted on our LMS, I just point the late-adders (and late-shower-uppers) in that direction, tell them by when they need to catch up, and tell them to email me with any questions. Some do; some don't; some read and then drop; some really should drop right away, but instead don't read, don't ask questions, and only drop when they're hopelessly behind and can no longer get a tuition refund. It's a bit Darwinian, but if they won't read the handouts, why should I think they'll read a detailed email, either?
As far as "what did I miss?" I refer them to the syllabus, the schedule, and suggest they borrow the notes from a classmate.ReplyDelete
On top of that, though, why not add something like: "Wednesday will be a typical example of what this class can offer you. Looking forward to seeing you then" ?
It's true, it's friendly, it's polite.
I hate to quibble, but what kind of university has a teaching assistant program but keeps the identity of the TA a secret?ReplyDelete
I've taught at 4 universities, 3 with TAs, plus my own grad school and undergrad experiences. All of them ended up listing the information for everyone in the course and not just the professor.
(Although I'm not really making a profound point, am I? No, just musing aloud to the interwebs...)
This is only the second university I've been involved with, but neither has listed the TA in the course listing. Even the main instructor is only listed as J DOE.Delete
Wow, that's nuts! I wonder if it prevents students from gravitating toward easier teachers?Delete
My uni started earlier than many so we have had three weeks of classes. I just had a 4th year student who has never come to class ask the same question. I did suggest she read the syllabus which states that a student will lose 2% of the total grade for each missed class. Hmmm...6 classes x 2% = say bye to the great GPA you told me about.ReplyDelete
Typically TAs are not listed at my uni because they are assigned too late to get them into the registration guide. But not listing the main instructor IS nuts.ReplyDelete
Isis, in general I am a fan of yours. But I have a contract with my TAs: I don't undermine them with students (which includes changing TA grades), and they don't undermine me with students (which includes not correcting me to students or playing bad cop). If they think I said something wrong in lecture, I ask them to take it up with me so I can issue the correction; similarly, if they are wrong about something in discussion section or whatever I take it up with them and let them issue their own correction. Whatever my policies are, lax or draconian, they are there to help enforce them at the same level I do, period. There is nothing more aggravating than a TA who resents my position--I worked hard for that damned doctorate, and got it young--and everyone starts out an inexperienced teacher. I'm sure my TAs had their giggles when I started but as long as they kept them out of range of our students, that was fine.
It's called basic professionalism, and any TA who is on my payroll needs to demonstrate it, just as I try to demonstrate mine to them. Otherwise, I feel free to think of them as TAflakes.
I did take it up with her after lecture, not in front of students, and she issued the correction. I'm just not very comfortable having to keep an eye out for the instructor getting their own pre-prepared clicker questions wrong, in a very fact based field.Delete
As for bad cop, she suggested to all 110 students on the first day of class that they might be able to unofficially switch into another section if only they e-mail me, which went about as well as you'd expect.
With F&T on thisReplyDelete
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Last year, I added the following to my syllabus:ReplyDelete
"NB: I do not respond to “What did I miss in class?” emails. Check D2L, check the reading calendar, email a classmate. I do not have time to go over course material more than once. Exceptions are made in cases of serious illness."
It has so far forestalled that kind of behavior. And I've helpfully included a copy of Tom Wayman's wonderful poem "Did I Miss Anything?" on the course website. http://www.library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/wayman/poem5.htm
I <3 the poem!Delete