Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Traditions!

My university wants students to suggest new traditions for our freshman class.  I note with disappointment that the administration did not consult the faculty about this (what's new?).  Therefore, I must share my innovative ideas here.

Hey, Prez, if you're reading, this is how we can make the next four (five, six ...) years of our new students' lives the very best ever.

Top ten new student tradition
  1. Refer to faculty by their proper titles.
  2. Do your work the way I tell you to do it, when I tell you to do it.
  3. Arrive on time to class.
  4. Bring your calculator to the test.
  5. Quit whining.
  6. Don’t cheat.
  7. When addressing a professor, begin the sentence with, “Would you mind if...” rather than, “You need to...”
  8. Shut up and listen.
  9. Stop crying when I hand back your exam.
  10. Study.
I hate to toot my own horn, but I just gave ten instructions to students that did not involve any acts that were anatomically impossible, sexual, hygienically unsafe or involving somebody's mother.  Clearly, the little cherubs are getting to me.


  1. Mine are getting to me to. I went to class today and called everyone's attention and began discussing our new project. Two students were chatting away right in front of me. I stopped and waited (I was surprised this worked; it usually doesn't). I began talking again. Two more students, hunkered down behind computer monitors, started chatting away.

    I lost it. I even have a clause in my syllabus about behavior in the classroom. I raised my voice and told everyone to STOP. TALKING. NOW. I said, IT'S. RUDE. And I said, don't come to me and ask me about what I just said. If I'm talking, you listen. It's a simple concept.
    I canceled office hours and went home and weeded my garden.

    1. Weeding your garden sounds like a fine tradition!

    2. Now you know why I turn the mike up so loud, Spinal Tap would be proud. Beware the bizarre gardening accidents.

      Actually, I would with content if they couldn't get #1, if only they could get #10.

  2. I'd like a tradition where professors toss students out of windows when they don't do all of the above.

    1. I second the motion, defenestration as a new tradition.


  3. To Academaniac: why not point at them and tell them to get out? It worked for the (tenured) chemistry professor in my Chem 101 class a few years ago.

    1. Unfortunately, they may not leave. What's Plan B if they don't leave? We don't have campus security; I'd have to call the local cops, who might come 20 minutes later.

      If Plan B involves large quantities of ammunition, delivered rapidly, telling the students to get out is more likely to work.

    2. That's why you actually need to bring a stapler to class. A nice metallic one takes care at least temporarily of any student not wearing a football helmet.

    3. >>> why not point at them and tell them to get out?

      I have done this, but it is a last resort. Once it resulted in a year-long battle, when a student tried to petition to have her grade changed and to have me fired. She had been openly belligerent to me during class, and disrespectful to her classmates (talking and laughing while they were speaking), as well as bullying a particularly vulnerable classmate. Thankfully, all I knew of her complaint was the copy of the letter sent to me, once everything was said and done, that informed the student that her request was denied. What a semester that was.

  4. Replies
    1. Can we have two POWs in 2 days? Why not? After all, we're not proposing trophies for all, just recognition where recognition is due. Besides, when does the "week" begin and end? And what is a week, really, and in what context are we defining it (I suspect Frod could provide some alternative answers to this last question).

    2. If you're going at the speed of light relative to the post, the week never ends.

  5. RTF[whatever I assigned -- scholarly article, poem, play, web page, etc.] and *think* about it, especially if I provided some questions to think about (I nearly always do) (that's probably the humanities equivalent of #10).

    And an extension of #7, perhaps particularly apropros in classes with online work: don't begin an email with "Are you aware that. . ." Yes, I'm usually aware of what's going on on the discussion board (okay, maybe not always quite aware as I'd like, but I try to maintain the illusion), especially toward the beginning of the semester (while things are getting started, and before I have formal papers to grade). Besides, if I've both announced in class and sent an email saying that I've now set up small groups, and that students will only be able to see posts by their own group members, it shouldn't be a surprise that you're now seeing posts by half a dozen rather than several dozen people.


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