Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year from Cal.

I wanted to wish all the CM world a Happy New Year, especially Fab and Leslie K, who have done the most to keep the page up and slowly dying.

I love new years, truly. Always a chance to avoid the fuckups of the previous one.

For years I played in bar bands around Texas. I occasionally made more money in shitty bars than I did teaching part-time, and it was a hell of a lot more fun than grading. Oh, I was never famous, but it didn't stop us from having a blast. (Oh, and even though most folks on here know my real world name, and a few have figured out my nom-de-guitar from my other music postings, I'll just post thing under my RYS/CM moniker to save confusion. Even though the line in the chorus, "...the last temptation of Bobby Hate," gives it all away anyway!)

Now I'm old, bald, fat, gluten and dairy-free, but I still make music when there's nothing great on TV.

This tune is one of mine from the 90s, but I re-recorded it fairly recently, and shot some video for it today. It's not a new Carly Rae Jepsen tune, but it does feature a few very mad moments of Gangnam-style dancing.

Best to us all in 2013!

New Year's Countdown--Five Worst Students of My Career (so far)

To get our 2013 off to a good start, I thought I'd share my top five worst students of my teaching career (so far). These are the students that I remember, for all the wrong reasons.

Yes, We Twitter. Or Somebody Does. Twitter's Stupid.

I don't know how it works. Some longtime reader puts shits/twits up.

You have to type @collegemisery I think.

Or not. Somebody asked me to do this post.
If Twitter helps us kill the site,
I'm all for it.

Leslie K


PS: This was the blog's 3600th post.
What a fucking anticlimactic moment.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

To my Darling Snowflakes, a new year gift

Dear Class,

This past term was very interesting. There were 130 of you in my big lecture class, but due to an unexpected administration twist, I had three TAs to help me deal with it all. The result was actually quite fun. I did my thing twice a week and let the TAs handle your BS excuses. You came to me from time to time, which was nice, but I barely had to deal with the lying and plagiarism. What a treat.

And your evals were very kind. I learned that about 20 of you have decided to declare a major in our discipline because of this class. What a compliment! Some of you liked my PPT presentations. Some of you liked my lecture style. A few of you genuinely enjoyed the assignments. Lovely.

But of course some of you had to be idiots.


Snowflake complaint: "You should have more/less reading."

Answer: If I give you more reading, you won't do it. If I give you less reading, you'll still be asking for less.
Snowflake complaint: "You should relax about cell phones. You called me out twice and both times I was just checking the date for my notes."

Answer: I had multiple people write a variation of this statement. First, the date is on my ppt. Second, the slide with the date on it is up for the first 5 or more minutes of class. Third, this is complete and total crap. You were texting friends. You think just because there are 130 of you, I can't see the glow of blue reflected off your face when you stare intently into your crotch? Any time there were more than 3 people texting at one time, yes, I paused lecture and reminded you to put your phones away. I said something almost every class because you dunderheads cannot go 50 minutes without being connected to the idiotic wisdom of your inane friends. Cut it out and stop lying to me in the evals.

Snowflake complaint: "You should post the lectures online. I missed class and I was unable to get the notes from anyone afterward."

Answer: Again, lots of people wrote something like this. Darling dears, do you really think I want to perform my lecture acrobatics to a room full of 3 people? Heavens no. That's bull. As soon as I start posting lectures or lecture notes or ppts online, people will stop coming to class. I purposefully avoid posting such things online as an incentive to attendance -- without actually marking people for attending.

Also: I said frequently that you could come see my lectures notes in office hours. Only three of you took me up on that, and two of those three were Jewish kids making up work after Jewish holidays.

Snowflake comment: My favorite thing about your course was sitting next to my girlfriend!

Answer: Edward, you fool, why be so obvious? Although I do have to say that I appreciated you. The first 3 lectures you and Anna were making out in the back row. Very distracting. So when I asked you to be more discreet and perhaps to write notes to each other rather than talking and kissing, you actually complied. Thank you for toning it down, even if she was probably stroking you off during my lecture on hamster origins.

Snowflake complaint: I have an 89.5%!! Will you let me have an A- instead of a B+?

Answer: Stop emailing your professors with this nonsense. Chances are, if you created a relationship with them, they will know you are a dedicated student and round up your grade. If you haven't established a relationship with your prof, then they won't give a damn and your emailed requests will only serve to help us find a reason to push your grade further down.


If only we had one more lecture so I could tell you this... Oh well. Happy New Year, flakes.

Academic Monkey

Why I Have a Big Problem With Academic Tenure. From Business Week.

What’s wrong with guaranteed-job-for-life tenure?
James C. Wetherbe

In business, adding competitive value is key to ensuring jobs and customers. Lifetime job security is the antithesis of competition. The ultimate benefactor of competition is the customer. Without competition, organizations devolve into the equivalent of the local department of motor vehicles, where a “socialistic monopoly” on issuing licenses creates painful inefficiencies.

After nearly 40 years in and out of academia, I have discovered that tenure can have the same kind of debilitating effect on professors. I came to disdain tenure and the way it protects subpar, complacent performance by the few who make the majority look bad. It was more about job security—guaranteed-for-life unless you do something really heinous. During the 13 years I had tenure, I grew weary of the sarcasm and wisecracks about it from business people with whom I consulted.

So I resigned tenure 20 years ago from the University of Minnesota. In 2000, I returned to my alma mater, Texas Tech University, as a chaired professor who had voluntarily rejected tenure. A dozen years later, I was a finalist to become the next dean of Texas Tech’s Rawls College of Business. Simultaneously, a committee reviewed my work and proposed that my name be sent to the Board of Regents to receive a Horn professorship, the highest faculty award at the school. I was ultimately rejected for both positions, I have strong reason to believe, because of my views on tenure—decisions that led me, reluctantly, to sue the university.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Visit from the Not-So-Sainted Greta

'Twas four days after Christmas, and all up in my grill
My students were stirring up messages shrill.
The grades were in days ago, calculated with care
In hopes that my students would find them all fair.

My critters were nestled all snug in my bed
While visions of contraband--you know, like forbidden human food and unattended toilet paper rolls--danced in their heads.
I was happy in jammies, in my hand a nightcap
To help counter another late afternoon nap.

When drawn to my desk, I admit epic fail.
I booted the computer to access email. 
(I cursed my old Windows; it was slow as molasses.
Hey! When did I start needing to use reading glasses?)

First I cruised Facebook to see funny photos,
Then Reddit, then Cake Wrecks, then over to Pogo.
Then finally email, and what did I find?
Many student emails, each one of them unkind.

With a small bit of vitriol, none lively, no wit,
Each student threw miniature nuclear fits.
More rapid than eagles their hatred it came,
Some hooted, some hollered, some called me rude names!

"You're terrible! Stupid! You're mean and you hate me!"
Said one student, "What gives you the license to rate me?"
"I worked so hard! How did I fail?" asked another.
Yet another one chimed, "I've complained to my mother!"

As dry leaves that before wild hurricanes fly,
These student complaints irritated my eyes.
As I fumed in my head, and I thought what to do,
Another note came in, quite out of the blue.

It arrived slightly later than all of the others,
And I almost deleted it, along with its brothers.
I cringed at the name; I remembered the lad.
His countenance always looked snarky and mad.

His eyes never twinkled, his face was so sour.
He looked like he'd never survive our one hour.
He thought that his writing was perfect and droll;
He never did smile; I lamented his soul.

The cap of a pen he chewed throughout class,
And when he spoke, spoke as though talking through glass.
He had a hard face and was trendy and skinny,
The one time he laughed, it resembled a whinny.

He looked like he needed to eat more than junk food,
And I wondered how much sugar and carbs tanked his mood.
A roll of his eye and a shake of his head,
The first day of class warned me what was ahead.

This email was vile, full of personal insults,
Ignoring his own lack of effort and results.
And laying a finger on top of one key
I jettisoned it, him, and all the other student-based tea-partying crap that cluttered my inbox, along with        several useless messages from various offices around campus and some spam--with glee.

I rose to my feet and remembered my wine,
Thought fondly of bed and hot bath and time--
Time between now and next term, time I'll take,
So Happy New Year to me, and to all, a good semester break!

Oh hell no

I mentioned briefly that my summer class was not very good this summer. It was hell, especially because of one student. Going into details right now is just upsetting.

So, when I logged in to my professional networking profile and saw the request from Hell Student student to add me to Hell Student's network, I was in shock. I even checked my emails again, to make sure the names were correct. Oh, yes. Hell Student wants me to be a professional reference.


Go fuck yourself you horrible excuse for a human being. You are in the top five of worst students I have ever had in my teaching career.

Judge orders parents away from daughter. From the Cincy Enquirer.

Aubrey Ireland had so much going for her. A senior in the prestigious College-Conservatory of Music, she had supportive parents who wanted her to excel in her music and acting career, so much so that they paid her tuition to University of Cincinnati even though she was offered full scholarships to other schools.

That relationship, though, devolved to the point where the 21-year-old senior sought and won, in an unusual court case, a stalking order against her parents.

“It’s just been really embarrassing and upsetting to have my parents come to my university when I’m a grown adult and just basically slander my name and follow me around,” Aubrey Ireland said in an Oct. 9 court hearing.

Despite her good grades and success in musical shows, David and Julie Ireland often drove 600 miles from Leawood, Kan., to visit their daughter unannounced. They accused her of using illegal drugs, promiscuity and suffering from mental woes. She insisted none of that was true and asked them to stop, but their accusations escalated. They informed her department head she had mental issues that could force them to go to court to have her treated.

The parents knew about what they saw as their daughter’s problems because, they admit, they installed monitoring software on her laptop and cellphone, allowing them to see her every keystroke and phone number dialed or received. It was “like I was a dog with a collar on,” said the daughter, a dean’s list student every quarter.

The parents became such an issue that the school hired security guards to keep them out of their daughter’s performances. When the parents stopped paying her tuition because she’d cut off all contact with them, the school gave her a full scholarship for her final year.

The college senior decided to seek a civil stalking order to keep her parents away from her after they went to UC and told her college administrators they could seek to have her taken in for mental evaluations. She filed a Sept. 24 stalking order against her parents.

After Common Pleas Court Judge Jody Luebbers asked the sides to work out a settlement moments before the Dec. 10 court hearing started, Julie Ireland told her daughter’s attorney they wanted her to return to them the $66,000 they’d spent on her three years of college tuition. After an intervention failed when the interventionists told the parents they, not their daughter, were the issue, the Irelands said their daughter was “a good actor and lying.”

Because Aubrey Ireland is an adult, she is allowed to live her life as she chooses, a judge ruled. Her parents were ordered to stay at least 500 feet away from her and have no contact with her until at least Sept. 23, 2013.


- sent in by vog3lfr3i

Friday, December 28, 2012

Because It SO Deserves The Post of the Week, We've Clipped Dr. Nothaughty's Recent Comment and Given it Some Space of Its Own. It Also Allowed Cal to Make a Fantastically Blurry and Crappy Graphic.

As a result of a series of coincidental employment matters, I've ended up working with a bunch of vegans. That's cool with me. Though I'm an omnivore, I limit the amount of meat that I eat, I make a point of eating lots of veggies, and I live an environmentally-conscious life. So I'm down with the cause, as it were.

However, what rankles me is the amount of time that these people, with whom I spend a minimum of 40 hours a week, devote to telling me that they are vegan: "Because I'm a vegan, I don't eat there." "That platter of cookies that the department chair ordered really pisses me off because I'm a vegan, and there aren't any vegan cookies there." "Because of my lifestyle choices--being a vegan and all--certain overseas travel options just aren't realistic ones for me."

Moreover, veganism apparently makes these people wholly ignorant of the world around them at this very moment: "Does it take a long time to cook a Thanksgvising turkey? I wouldn't know because I'm vegan." "Beer! They sell it in cans now? I wouldn't know because I'm vegan and I don't drink." "There's a television network called the Food Network? I wouldn't know because I'm vegan and therefore don't own a television."

I swear, I never thought that chocolate chip cookies would ever make me want to punch so many people so many times.

- Dr. Nicholas Nothaughty

Does Willful Ignorance = Arrogance, or Something Else. A Riff on the Obtuseness of Some of Dick's Colleagues.

Hiram riffed on something,
and I am riffing on as well.

I have a colleague who thinks
Captain Kirk was in Star Wars.

I have a colleague who borrowed
a lawn mower once and was surprised
it was not electric or a "pusher."
"Gasoline mowers are terrible for the environment."
You're welcome.

{The same colleague doesn't own
 a rake.}

I have a colleague who said he had trouble
parking on campus on a Saturday.
He wondered why the area around the stadium
was so busy.
We have a Division 1 football team.

I have a colleague who overheard
me playing a Rolling Stones CD
and he asked me, "Is that Elvis?"

I have a colleague who likes to say
he doesn't watch TV, but you can't stump him
on Downton Abbey trivia.

I have a colleague who questioned
why one of the junior faculty was
teaching a course about "Duffy" the Vampire Slayer.

MOST of my colleagues willfully deny
things like Twitter, pop culture, the E! Channel,
et cetera, and et cetera.

Now, I don't know everything about everything,
but I am aware that there are Batman movies
{swoon, Val Kilmer.}

I know something about the major sports,
and could pick Phil Mickelson out of a lineup,
and Roger Federer, and Lionel Messi
{and I can pronounce the latter's first name.}

The implication is, always,
that my colleagues are "above" whatever
the thing is they act willfully ignorant of.

To what end?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Big Thirsty on Evaluations and why we hate them...

In light of a recent post about evaluations, I've been thinking about their usefulness.

One of my colleagues refuses to read her evaluations. She has tenure and no longer needs to respond to them like the rest of us who have to, every few years, when we're up for promotion, pull out the dreaded comments and respond to them in whatever form of torture the Rank & Tenure people have devised. This colleague asks the rest of us to scan her evaluations and let her know if there are any problems she needs to be aware of. I hate reading her evaluations because, by and large, no one complains. She has no reason NOT to read her evaluations.

Another of my colleagues cries. I know she does because she has admitted as much, and her pinched mouth and puffy eyes tell me she's gone into a funk the likes of which would make George Clinton proud, and stays moody for days on end, muttering to herself about student evaluations. When someone says something complimentary, she responds with, "Well, 27% of my class would disagree with you about that..." I know she takes the comments to heart because every quarter, she has them open as she attempts to (1) interpret what they mean; (2) change assignments to incorporate feedback she receives. She asks the rest of us for feedback on how to tweak assignments or change up the order of major projects, all because one student claimed she felt overwhelmed by the order in which essays were due.

The rest of my colleagues fall between the spectrum of those who ignore and those who anxiously await and obsess about their students' feedback.

My evals are rarely helpful enough to change anything. When I first started teaching, I used to obsess about the comments that were just plain mean and unnecessary. Now I don't care. I just puzzle it out for a few minutes, then leave it alone. The ones with profanity make me laugh, and the clearly insane ones (like the student who claimed she heard the voice of God every time the boy sitting behind her said something), well, those are just entertaining. The flattering ones boost my ego and tell me I'm not a lost cause...

...But they're rarely helpful to me: One section will love me, the other will hate me. Four people will claim there are too many presentations because they hated that about the class, and four others will claim there were not enough presentations because they really loved that portion of the class. Someone will always claim there was too much reading assigned (no shit, it's a four-credit READING class), and someone else will complain about how I was rude and unhelpful because I wouldn't let them get away with plagiarism. Several will glow about the fact that they loved whatever text we read that they'd already fallen in love with before taking the class and that's why they took the class, and a few will grumble that the texts were long and boring... and yet, nothing will change in my classes as a result. I can't change the texts; they're assigned to that period in literature. I can't change the number of essays; they're required by WASC and our department. I can't change much else, beyond the color of the scarf I wear occasionally (which one student criticized), and I can't change the desks or the uncomfortable chairs in the classroom.

Q: So I'm curious, fellow Miserians, what do you do with evaluations?

  • Are yours helpful to you? Do you really value them?
  • Do you incorporate feedback into future courses?
  • Do you get into a funk and obsess about comments that make you insane?
  • Do you laugh it off and go get a beer (or bourbon)?
  • Do you ignore them completely because you no longer have to look at them?
  • In essence: what do you do, and how do they affect you?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thanks For Nothing, Popular Pete!!!!!

Some of you will recall my Christmas present from Cheating Charlene.  Charlene has not gone quietly into that good night.  She is stone cold busted, but she wants her day in "court."  Fine.  We'll do it.  She's gonna go down, and although I can't frame it as a threat, not really, but since she wants to get all formal and everything, and get the Dean involved, I just might have to put some pressure on said Dean to put something into her academic record.  This is almost unheard of, but the Dean does not like to do this kind of meeting, either!

Anyway, Popular Pete is another professor.  He's just so awfully popular.  He fancies himself rather a babe (not really, but I see where he could delude himself) and he is in a band that plays at the college every so often.  He's an RMP darling.  Lots of high posts.  Lots of little peppers!  And he brags about it!

So, I happened upon Pete and Charlene duking it out in the hallway right after midterms.  She was whining about her wanting to make up the midterm, and he was saying no.  Then he and I got into a conversation about ole Charlene, and what an annoying little prat she is.  He was telling me how sick he was of all the bullshit.  "How strange, Pete, to hear this from YOU!-----I thought you loved the little snowflakes and they loved you!"  I said.  He admitted he felt like the glow of mutual love was dimming a bit.  He said he was tired of cow-towing to get good reviews and be well liked.  He said he was tired of bullshit from students like Charlene, who had not shown up for his midterm, and had not offered any excuse until two weeks later when she showed up and realized she missed it.  His course only offers a mid term, a final and a research essay, so she was well and truly fucked, but he was going to stick to his syllabus, he said.  And they could not retake it under circumstances like these.

He was convincing.

Charlene just forwarded her transcript to the Dean, and lo and behold, she received very high marks from all her other professors this semester-----and from Popular Pete?

An A.

What a fucking loser Pete is!

More Guns on Campus!

Lawmaker: Allow Professors To Carry Guns on Campus
State Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, says college campuses in Arkansas would be safer if professors and staff carried handguns. “Crazies and killers, they understand where the gun-free zones are,” Collins said.

Collins introduced a bill last session to allow staff and professors with concealed carry permits to carry a handgun on campus. It failed last session, but Collins plans to reintroduce the bill during the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 14.
Collins says the bill will help protect Arkansans. “This is all about protecting our children protecting our spouses and protecting the people that are on college campuses,” he said.
John Diamond, university spokesman, said allowing others to have guns on campus isn’t a good idea, “They may overreact to a situation. They may misinterpret something that’s going on, and if they are armed with a deadly weapon it’s much more likely than not that they’re going to act in a way that compounds a problem rather than resolve it.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

And a Happy Holiday to You, Too!

As a special holiday treat, Large Urban Community College, which does its evaluations all online, makes sure we get copies of our results 24 hours after grades are due. 

Ever since we switched to this system, our response rate is about 25%, pretty much all the responses are completely negative or overwhelmingly positive (with a ratio of about 2:1 in favor of the negative). Here are my greatest hits just in time for the holidays:

  • She was rude (because I told the students when there was a technology problem with the class that they needed to accept that tech problems happen and just do what I told them to do in the meantime until things were fixed).
  • She took too much material from the teacher's manual. Yes, a student got hold of the instructor's manual for the class, and, because I provided the ancillaries in addition to my own materials, I "didn't care enough" about the subject.

CrayonEater Sends in This Link From HuffPo.

Science Retractions: Top 5 Withdrawn Studies Of 2012

When you read about medical breakthroughs in the newspapers, you shouldn't get your hopes up. This is not because of journalistic hyperbole or even the fact that cures often are years away from the initial publication of result.
It seems that an increasing number of scientific studies are just plain wrong and are ultimately retracted. Worse, a study published in October 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (uh, if it's true) claims that the majority of retractions are due to some type of misconduct, and not honest mistakes, as long assumed.
The blog Retraction Watch tracks such retractions and has notified its readers of hundreds of journal-article withdrawals in 2012 alone. The king of retractions, according to Retraction Watch, is Japanese anesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii, who falsified data in 172 of 212 of his papers published between 1993 and 2011. All of this came to light in 2012. [See Last Year's Biggest Science Retractions]

CrayonEater Sends in a Story About the Site That Shall Not Be Named. From USA Today.

Rate My Professors not all it’s cracked up to be

In 1999, software engineer John Swapceinski launched the website The site, later renamed RateMyProfessors, allows college students in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to, well, give ratings of their professors.

RateMyProfessors allows anyone to give a rating for a professor. All you have to do is find the professor you want to review and then click on the “rate this professor” button and fill out the short survey.

The survey will ask you to rate the professor, using a scale of 1-5, on easiness, helpfulness, clarity, interest level prior to attending class and textbook use. Students can also choose to rate if their teacher is hot or not.

While many students find RateMyProfessor to be a useful site, others find it to be problematic. The biggest issue that critics have with the website is the validity of the ratings.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

CM: Christmas Misery

For months now, people  have been telling me that I should have a happy Christmas. We had a holiday party in my department. Another department's student group sang carols. Garland went up around the office. People have moaned and groaned about a raging "War on Christmas." And I have nearly gone insane.

I don't know why the US goes crazy over Christmas. Religious people tell me Jesus must have been born later in the year. History tells me that Christmas is celebrated around the Solstice because it made the conversion of Pagans that much easier. But the consumerism? The peculiar decision of parents to create an elaborate, years-long lie to children, that virtually all adults are in on, until that crashing moment when a kid realizes that Santa isn't real and what else is everyone lying to me about....

Misery. We talk about misery here. And for me, Christmas is the most miserable time of all.

4 Years Ago From RYS.

Edna from Evansville Stands Up But Falls Down. Big Fuckup Redux.

There’s one moment that stand out so clearly that, looking back now, I can’t believe I did it. It’s a two hour class. One hour in a classroom, one hour in computer lab. My goal? Make ‘em write good. At the beginning of this particular classroom hour, I’m dragging stuff out of my carry bag. At the back of the room is Annoying Annaminsky, the international student who was a thorn in my side from the first moment she said ‘I’m international, what this mean?’ and her sidekick.

Having been absent due to a school sponsored function the previous meeting, AAsky has had a scowl on her face from the get go because it has become evident we have veered from the syllabus into an area the rest of the students found more interesting so I can, in a desperate attempt, get ‘em to write gooder. As I pull my precious white board marker from my bag, Annoying Annaminsky says “there is homework.” I look around the class and see blank stares. I hadn’t given the assignment embossed on the syllabus. Annoying Annaminsky and her sidekick glare at me because, obviously, they have done said homework. As I try to explain that the points we’ll be getting for this will be based on the paragraph we’ll be writing in just a few minutes, and AAsky and SK are not pleased. They glare throughout the hour.

At the end of the hour, Annaminsky makes her demand. “I should get points for homework.” I’m already packing up for the move to the writing lab, and I say…and here’s the Big FU…I’ll look at it and see what I can do. I can probably give you some points.

Fast forward. The semester has ended. Annoying Annaminsky has received, you guessed it, a B. She appears in my division chair’s office. I assume it has to do with her good but not excellent final exam essay which kept her from the A she told me she wanted all semester. I am summoned. As the discussion progresses, I’m accused of: forgetting 5 extra credit points I said I’d give; being prejudiced against second language writers because I wrote ‘these are common ESL errors – keep working with the tutor’ on one of her papers; not staying with the original syllabus and not calling each student personally when the syllabus changed; and, you guessed it, she should have gotten 20 points for homework because I told her I’d give them to her.

I’ve forgotten all about this. No matter what, she isn’t producing A material, so I won’t budge. I hold my ground, she got a B, not an A, because I’m in a great place where admin actually backs faculty, but there are hours and hours I’ll never get back tied up in listening to her apply the three years of law classes she took before she came to the US. I’ve been cross-examined before, so I knew how to hang on, but I kept thinking…what if I’d just said “No.” My division chair only says “it’s okay. Just try to be clearer about points, okay?”

Who knew that a side comment, meant only to shut someone up, would result in this kind of shakedown. On some level, she was probably right. I, however, wasn’t going there for no reason other than I really didn’t like this girl, her pushy attitude and the way she continued to come at me as if I owed her something. A slightly different attitude, and I would have folded, admitted my mistake, and given her the grade she had probably earned. She remains at the college, as far as I know, so I’ll run into her again, even if I try not to. Our biggest mistakes don’t go away.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What's New? A Weekend Thirsty From the Wayworn Wanderer

The university requires us to take roll as a matter of policy. Furthermore, the university enforces that policy. Last fall I took roll each class, and, since attendance was no part of the grade, I watched as student after student just skipped class, unexcused, with impunity.

This semester I plan to count off for unexcused absences and lates. Some of my colleagues do; others do not. I'm just pissed, and I want it to cost them more than occasional missed daily grades and test questions.

Q: What will you do in the spring that you didn't do this fall? And I mean, for real, not just in your wildest dreams.

4 Years Ago on RYS. The Archive Machine Loves Ben.


Where ya been, Beaker Ben?

Brothers and sisters and all you cool types somewhere in between: I bring good tidings and the answer to your question, “How the hell am I going to get through another semester?” Worry no longer. Behold and rejoice!

Concocted deep within the Beaker Ben laboratory and with patent pending, I submit for your enjoyment: Proffie Porn(TM).

No, not THAT type of porn. Get your mind out of the gutter. You want to nail the new adjunct in the psych department? Fine (nice choice, BTW). Fantasize about that on your own time. I’ve got something that is more high-minded and also stirs our deepest passions. Here’s how it’ll work.

[RYS moderators: insert wavy lines to begin dream sequence. Thanks, BB]

While visiting RYS one evening, I notice the new ad on the sidebar – the one with the hottie reading a book with a phone number below it. What’s that for? “Listen to students do the most unbelievable things!” it says. “Let them fulfill your fantasies! Just call 1-900- ...”

I’ve called these numbers, back before I got dial-up. This should be fun. I know what I’d tell them to do. Dial ‘er up!

Ring ... Ring.

Computer voice: In what field do you hold a Ph.D.? Press 1 for humanities; press 2 for science; press 3 for business; press 4 for engineering.

BB: Huh? Um, ok. [presses 2]

The sultry voice of a Proffie Porn(TM) customer associate comes on the line. “Hello, professor. My name’s Tasha.”

BB: Hi Tasha. What sort of things are you into?

Tasha: [sighs] It’s Saturday and I’ve got to study.

BB: Oh, that’s so hot – wait. Did you say “study”?

Tasha: Yeah, I’ve got a big intro chem test on Monday. I’ve been studying this stuff all week but there’s still a few of the advanced problems that I can’t work out.

BB: [gulps] You started studying early? Now you are working out the questions that probably won’t even be on the test?

Tasha: Well, sure. I want to stay on the honor roll. [Pause] Professor, are you still there?

BB: Yeah, sorry. I dropped the phone. I’ve never heard of a college girl doing that sort of thing on a Saturday night, and I’ve been around a while.

Tasha: Oh, professor [giggles], we do this sort of stuff all the time at Proffie Porn(TM). Wanna help a bright, hard-working student excel in her classes?

BB: [breathing heavy] Hold on a second. I need to unbuckle, er, get more comfortable.

Tasha: I’m studying on chapter 5, ideal gases.

BB: Oh, God, yes. I love teaching that stuff. What problem are you working on? Read it to me and take it nice and slow.

Tasha: I need help deriving the van der Waals equation. After we do that together, you can tell me all about your research.

BB: Oh, oh, oh! Wait! [pauses] Dammit. [pauses] Hi, Tasha? Thanks for talking to me. I feel a lot better now. Can I call you back next week?

[OK, RYS moderators, I’ll need some wavy lines so readers know we’re back to reality. I want to make sure that everybody knows that it was all fake, especially the ending. OK? Thanks again. You guys are awesome. BB]

Show’s over. Yeah, it still needs some fine tuning. The girls always ask about the prof’s research too soon. Don’t they know anything about foreplay? I guess romance really is dead. Anyway, once this gets up off the ground, I’ll be raking in the money from credit card payments. We’ll also accept deposits from academic department accounts and federal research funds.

Don’t try to cash in on this idea before I take it to market. I put that little “TM” after the name, so it’s all mine.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Last Day (warning: contains profanity)

I finished grading my finals today. This class did as poorly as my summer session, so I'm not sure if I set my standards too high, or if the population of this college does not draw strong learners. Gratefully, this institution wants me to have high standards, and even if my entire class does not have a single A student, I am free to evaluate based on my standards. It is a relief.

I had one student, Indignant Irene, who had an outright confrontation with me yesterday. We had a final group project, where I graded each member individually. I can tell who did what work rather easily, and each person is graded on the merit of his/her contribution.

The confrontation began when Indignant Irene earned an A- on the project. She had been working very, very hard all quarter, but there were still some fundamental gaps in her knowledge base. Her presentation showed a lot of improvement, but it was not perfect. It was B+/A- work, and having seen how hard she worked in class, and her working with me during office hours, I decided to push it to the A-. She felt she should have earned 100% on the assignment. She did this in front of the class. I pointed out her errors, also in front of the class, since Indignant Irene refused to wait until my office hours. Fine. I'll tell everyone what was wrong with your presentation, since you insist on hijacking my class.

Then, after all the presentations, I quickly calculated my students' current grades, so they would know where they stood, and what they needed to score on the final exam. Indignant Irene was outraged that her current grade was a B, and that there was no mathematical way she could earn an A in the course.

"But Professor Maybelle, I've worked so hard!"

5 Years Ago From RYS. One of the most requested archival posts ever.

"I've Done It To Myself."

I don't blame anyone else for it.

I've done it to myself, turned myself into a fearful and timid professor, tying up my whole self-worth in what others think of me: students, colleagues, and administrators.

All I wanted to be since the time I was a middle schooler was a teacher. I loved college and grad school was a blast. Then I was in the profession, and every bit of my courage and soul got stripped away.

I kissed ass and catered to my department to move along the tenure & promotion track. I dumbed down my classes to get student approval. I wrote incomprehensible gibberish in "hot fields" in order to publish things I wouldn't read myself if you put a gun to my head.

And I found myself stooped and depressed more and more.

I would come home from a day on campus and it would take longer and longer to be able to face my family, my wife, my sons, my friends. By Saturday night I would be closest to my old self, facing the barbecue, tossing a football, catching a new movie with my sweetie. By Sunday afternoon the gloom began to fall. More boot licking. More stooping.

And it was all on me. I could have said no to things. I could have said, forget the student evaluations; I'm going to do what I think is right. I could have told my chair to rope someone else into doing the work that nobody else would do. And if by standing up I would have lost my job, lost my good name, lost my credibility, what would I have been losing?

I'm a nebbish, a toady. And it happened because I let it all happen. If you can't be human, be strong, be engaged and confident, what good is the $56,000 I make. I should have gotten down on my knees and begged them to fire me, just so that I wouldn't have wasted all of these years.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thirsty? Me, Too.

How am I supposed
to count on anything?

Hiram is getting fucked by the Dean,
when I know he's a good man,
and today on the page,
not a soul asked a Big Thirsty.

Where is the center of my universe?
Why are Cal's images so blurry?
Why does Bubba scare me so?
Why does Darla's new avatar make me sad?

Q: What emergency at the compound
resulted in us having no big thirsty today?

Update from Hiram

This afternoon I called the Dean to follow up. I told him I had changed my mind about allowing the F grade to be changed to a D, based on my review of the events and a further review of the student's work.

The Dean told me that he had been convinced the student's poor performance on the final was a result of a misunderstanding and he'd take the responsibility for the changed grade, and that if I changed the grade he was going to override it.

"He didn't earn a passing grade," I said.

"It's my call," the Dean said. "Have a good holiday."

More meanness from Horrible Meanie Prof.

Why, oh why, dear student, did you even bother?

Your mid-term exam grades were closer to your age than to mine; you left a little more than half of your final exam blank; you missed 7 our of 30 required class sessions. You did a bang-up job of copying on your assignments, so much so that on the first one you almost got nailed for plagiarism, though I let all the student see their your plagiarism check scores before submission. Even 100% on the final would have only gotten you a D in the course. Maybe you still retained some glimmer of hope before you remembered that all those absences might have pushed you into a failing grade?

But the medical excuse forms: those were a work of art! Copies of copies of copies with the imperfections in the glass of the copy machine making lovely repeating patterns. It WAS a bit odd that all the forms had the same completion date, and that you turned them in at the final, even the ones from August and September. Too bad that I require them within a week of the absence. And really, REALLY too bad that when I contacted the medical office listed on the excuse form, they had no record of a patient with your name ever visiting them. Did you forget and use your classmate's name? Maybe the classmate who provided you with the medical excuse form that you 'doctored' up so you could use?

Oh well, it sure is unfortunate. And now I have be all mean, and report you to the Dean, and probably, since forgery is not just academic dishonesty, but a crime, get you expelled or something. Four years of Ferret Finance & Fabrication down the tubes. What will mommy and daddy say?

I'm Not Baffled, Just Pissed Off.

I spent the better part of a semester pushing and pulling mid-year graduating senior Lucas through my class. We had at least three meetings about this during the semester, and each time he sort of blithely acknowledged that he'd do the work necessary.

He was a lazy shit, who did casual and careless C- work.

As the semester was closing down, he kept talking about his relocation to San Diego where he had lined up a job and a house, and where his girlfriend was already living. He was going to skip the final, too, if he could, I mean, if it was okay with me.

"Okay?" I said. "You NEED the final to pass. Your grades are on the borderline and the final is going to decide if you even pass."

"But I'm graduating," he said, smiling.

"You're not getting it, Lucas. You won't graduate unless you pass this class, and I've spent all semester trying to show that to you."

The final exam day came and Lucas showed up. He breezed through it in about 20 minutes. Nobody else left until after at least an hour, and most were there at the 2 hour finish.

I couldn't wait to see what he'd done. My calculations showed he needed to earn at least 75 points out of 100 to earn a C, 65 for a D. Both of those would have meant he'd graduate in December like he wanted. But 60 or below guaranteed an F, and he would not graduate at all.

Six Years Ago on RYS.

Clever Carl from Cleveland Gets Heavy on the Hubbub, Bub, and Lays Waste to Socially Retarded Profs and Old School Conventions of Attendance

Q: What is all this hubbub about student attendance?
A: Who knows. I don’t get it. College students are adults so why are we professors treating them like high school students?

But don’t you care if students come to class?
A: I think they should come for their own good, but, no, I don’t personally care. I get paid whether they come or not. 

Q: But if they don’t come to class, they won’t succeed, right?

A: If my students don’t show up, one of two things will happen:

  1. They fail my class. This is the most common outcome by far and I have neither pity nor sympathy for students who fail because they were never in class.

  2. They pass anyway. More power to them! If they can read the textbook and figure it out on their own, that’s cool with me. My job is to ensure that students who pass my class are prepared for the next class in the sequence.

Q: But shouldn’t we be giving our students more than just a prerequisite for future classes?
A: Yes, of course. And for the students who care, my classes offer enrichment and beauty. The students who don’t show up and pass anyway don’t care about that. I’m happy to move them on to a higher-level course where they can be challenged at an appropriate level. At any rate, I would be quite the hypocrite to expect otherwise. As an undergraduate, I missed plenty of classes and still graduated summa cum laude. I knew my limits and I knew how to prioritize. One semester, I had a stupid course at 8:00 a.m. for one credit hour. On the first day, I found out that 100% of the grade was the final exam, so I never went back to class again. I got the assignments online the week before the exam, did them the day before the exam, and then showed up and aced the final exam. I’m not bragging; I’m simply pointing out that I need not get in the way of students who are capable of doing this. It is also not my job to be a truancy officer for those students who are incapable of such careful self-assessment.

Q: Why can’t we expect students to come to class every day? Aren’t we preparing them for the “real world” where they will have to show up everyday?

A: No, the professor is working in the “real world” and so he or she must show up every day. Students pay to come to college, so it’s their own money they’re throwing away (or more likely their parents’ money). Again, I get paid whether they come or not. When I start paying to go to work, I too will get to dictate what days I show up.

Q: Shouldn’t we find ways to motivate students to come to class? Maybe like scheduling a huge midterm on the Wednesday night class right before the Thursday of Thanksgiving?

A: If you want to be a dick, fine. As the professor, you have the prerogative to do this. Just cut it out with all your, “Back in my day…” stories. You hated being in school the night before Thanksgiving the same as everyone else. Quit kidding yourselves into thinking you never slept through a class as an undergraduate or never skipped class on the first nice day of spring. If you can’t relate to students on this point, you are socially retarded. Don’t blame this unfortunate condition on your “lazy” undergraduates.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

3 Years Ago on RYS.

Alton from Apollo Beach Does a Little Old School Rating. (Remember When We Did Nothing BUT Rate Students? We Don't Either.)

Jolly Jennifer: Yes. I know. We had a deal at the end of last spring when you asked me if you could sign into my upper level gender class, even though you would only be a sophomore. I said, “Yes. However, it is going to be reading and theory intensive, so you are going to have to do more reading then most, because you don’t have the background in theory you will need.” You promised that if you got added to my class, you would read over the summer to make sure you were prepared. You even took the list of books I gave to you read, laughing and smiling as you said, “Thank you! Thank you!” I NEVER learn! You never read any of those books over the summer. You never read any of the books for class either. You don’t know the difference between a theory and a method. My ferret writes a better literature review than you. Yet you keep on laughing and smiling. I hope your jolliness gets you through the winter break, because your grade in my class won’t. This grade will be the coal in your stocking.

Carefree Caylee: Of course I understand the implosion with your group of peers wasn’t your fault. Yes, I know that when the first group imploded that was Tom’s fault, not yours. After all, he’s task-oriented, a goal-setter, a go-getter and is meticulously organized. I know it was too much for him to ask that you remain on campus one weekend so your group could meet to make arrangements to do research in a local nonprofit organization. Yes, I know all these things, because you went to the chair of the department and had a crying fit in his office. Of course, then I had to sit in his office. I had to rearrange the entire class around the fact that you are a whiney, privileged, little “My daddy’s a doctor” contessa. I needed to do this because you told the chair you were afraid of Tom. So I rearranged the groups – separating you and Tom as if you were on the kindergarten playground. Guess what? Your new group was no better. Gasp! They wanted to meet on weekends. You told them, “I can’t meet on weekends, because my daddy wants to see me on weekends and he is paying for school, so I have to do what he wants.” I hope daddy the doctor is impressed with your failing grade and the fact you won't graduate, because if there is one class you must pass, it is this one - the capstone. Of course you and he know that too isn’t your fault. Happy Holidays!

Ryan the Recluse: Holy shit you came to the final exam! It is the seventh time I’ve seen you all semester. You showed up the first day of class. You showed up and gave your first speech. You took the midterm. You took the final. You also showed up for each of the three days you were supposed to give speeches in class. Unfortunately when you showed up you didn’t give them. You got full credit for the first speech. You got an A- on the midterm and an A on the final. While I am thrilled by the fact that you read the book and studied for the two tests, I am afraid that you are getting 0 for participation, and three 0s for the three speeches you missed. You see Ryan, the point of a speech class is that you come to class and give speeches. Let’s see, that’s 225 points out of 950. You should be grateful I bothered to grade your final. Consider it your Christmas present. I hope you aren’t shocked when you realize that 24% is an F.

Sanctimonious Sandy: While I realize your closed-minded religiosity (I don’t dare call it Christianity this close to Christmas: that would be sacrilegious) is a definite part of your identity, bringing up conservative religious beliefs is not appropriate for every topic in our class on gender. Worse still, while you believe all opinions are equal, there are some opinions more equal than others. Those are called informed opinions. You have succeeded brilliantly in keeping your opinions uninformed. If you don’t think that is a good idea that women should vote, express it by not voting. Teena Brandon’s sexuality did not prove she was demon possessed and needed an exorcism. That’s some empathy you have. It really reminds me of the Jesus that hung out with prostitutes, cripples and other ‘undesirables.’ Queer theory is not an attempt by academics to “turn everyone homosexual.” If you had read the Butler and Foucault, you would understand that. I know you don’t want to get gainful employment when you graduate, since you are only here for your Mrs. Degree. Hopefully, you will find your Mr. Right for Christmas, because given your knee-jerk reactions to everything that offends your religious sensibilities, you are not going to make it on your own, unless you can warp the space-time continuum and go back to 1840.

Hysterical Hannah: You gave one speech and came to my office crying, snot running down your nose, tears streaming down your face, body hitching and trembling as if you were having a stroke. School is too much. You have never not gotten an ‘A’ throughout high school. Welcome to the university! You had this speech. You have a test tomorrow and another one the following day. Plus you have to pick a major and figure out your schedule for the next three and a half years. Um. No you don’t. You are a first semester freshman. You don’t have to pick a major immediately. You don’t have to have the next three years of your life planned out. Who the hell is putting all this pressure on you? I’m no counselor, but damn, you need to take one day at a time. Learning how to deal with pressure may be the most useful thing you learn in college, because if you can’t deal with this, I have no idea how the hell you are going to survive when you have work and life commitments that will undoubtedly pull you in different directions. Get your shit together. And no more crying. I’ll be out of tissues before you are out of issues. As I said, I’m no counselor, but if you bring a bottle of 21 year old Glenlivet for the holidays, I’ll pretend to listen.

Erroneous Eric: No. It states on the syllabus that there is one opportunity for extra-credit in this class. Hell, if it wasn’t part of the department’s culture that students get to partake in studies for extra-credit, I wouldn’t even do that bullshit. Part of being a good citizen, I suppose. Oh. I’m sorry you didn’t get the chance to play on the Wii for two hours for 20 points of extra credit. No, I don’t round up grades. You earn what you earn. Yes, the extra credit would have bumped you up to an A- from a B+, but you missed your chance. You decided to skip the class when the extra-credit was originally announced and the sign-up sheet went around. Why don’t I give more extra credit? Extra credit for you means extra work for me. After dealing with you and the other point grubbers for 15 weeks, I need this holiday break more than you.

A Christmas Present from Cheating Charlene

Like my name,
and some periods.
Okay, so I've read the nice "Christmas Miracle" post and I thought about the great students I've had over the years and smiled.  Hugs all around!

And maybe I'm just a Grinch, but to get back to the misery-----I had a little Christmas Miracle present of another kind.  And it really made my day!

Charlene is my age, and from a rough background.  For some reason, this type of student (my age, female, from a rough background)-----is exactly the type to really push me to the edge.  She was hostile, lazy, and always just on the safe side of over the limit.  She knew how to play the game.  And she was playing it.  We had a battle going on about everything----her class participation grade, every single tea partying quiz answer, whether she did or did not hand it this or that.  And the list goes on.  She showed up an hour late to the final exam, handed in her final essay, and told me she expected to pass the class since she had received a B+ on her research essay (worth a hefty part of her grade).  I told her that was not going to happen because of her poor grades in other things.  She told me she was going to ask for a formal review of her grades, all of them, and that she had copies of everything and was going to go through the whole process.  She obviously knows the whole process.

Since We Were Talking About Fucking in the Library. From the Daily Californian.

by Nadia Cho.

I’ve always had the cliched fantasy of having sex in Main Stacks, so we wasted no time in heading there first. The trick to doing it in Stacks is to go at a time when there won’t be a lot of people studying at the same time and to pick a section of books that people won’t ever think to look up. Like the British Royal Academy archives.

We decided that, out of the millions of books in the library, the shelves full of books on religion seemed like the best place to fuck. We moved the adjacent shelves to block our location so that we couldn’t be seen from the rows on either side. I liked having our shelves of choice close to each other so that the setting was nice and cozy.

It’s best to have some empty shelves toward the bottom so that you can climb them and feel like Spider-Man while your partner penetrates you standing up. You can even re-enact the awesome sex scene from the film Atonement. I definitely love a man who can fuck well while standing up.

Looming End Of World Keeps Southwestern College Professor Busy.

An expert on Mayan culture and prophecy at Southwestern College said today he has been "as busy as a frog on a griddle'' as the day of the supposed end of the world draws near.

Mark Van Stone, a professor and art historian in the School of Arts & Communication, told City News Service that he received three interview requests a day last week from around the country and recently completed a college speaking tour on the East Coast that included Princeton and Johns Hopkins universities.

He's also been a popular guest at Mayan, anthropology and astronomy conventions.

Van Stone is scheduled to make his second speaking appearance in a week at 6 tonight at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center at Balboa Park, partially to debunk theories that the world is scheduled to end on Dec. 21.

"The best thing about this 2012 nonsense is it creates interest in the Mayan people,'' Van Stone said. "People can go down there and see what the Maya are really like.''


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

(Sweet) Unintended Consequences

Several of my students have complained that they're having trouble seeing their grades on our LMS, so I initiated an email exchange with tech support. The upshot: the grade book is working just fine, but, at this point in the semester, it's so large that it's taking a while to load -- long enough that students used to instantaneous results, and/or those trying to check grades via the (somewhat buggy) cell phone app, or other slow connections, may conclude that it isn't working at all.

Translation: all those little mini-assignments that I have to create to keep my easily-distracted students on course toward the goal of completing a larger assignment, and that I have to grade in order to get the students to take them seriously (and the grades for which a few students haggle over every.single.time one appears) are now making it difficult for said students to check their grades obsessively from their phones (and/or whatever other mobile devices they've been using to send me brief, nearly-incomprehensible messages about their grades all semester).  I can live with that.

Student evaluations impact teachers’ tenure track. From the Golden Gate Xpress (SFSU).

Students have the power to determine the course of a teacher’s career at the end of each semester, and they may not even know it.

Student course evaluations, given out at the end of every semester to gauge a teacher’s performance, are a key factor in determining whether a faculty member is worthy of promotion to a higher level of tenure. Roughly 49 percent of SF State’s faculty members that are in tenure track, or have full tenure, stand to benefit from larger salaries, health care and retirement if they receive positive student course evaluations.

“The purely quantitative comments are more troublesome because it’s not always clear to students the effect and the use of the data that’s being made,” Green said. “Often students have a tendency to take these evaluations lightly as one more thing that’s wasting their time.”

Natalie, a senior psychology major who declined to give her last name, has been through four years of student course evaluations and feels apathetic about them.

“I don’t really care about student evaluations,” Natalie said. “It’s just something I have to do. I fill in the bubbles and get it over with.”


Rejecting Tenure and Paying for It? From InsideHigherEd.

Tenure disputes are hardly rare. What makes James C. Wetherbe’s case unique is that he’s not fighting for tenure, but against it.

In a recently filed federal lawsuit, Wetherbe accuses Texas Tech University of violating his First Amendment rights by denying him two promotions on account of his anti-tenure stance.

“I never expected something like that to happen at the end of my career but, given that it has, I’ve decided to challenge the system and see what happens,” said Wetherbe, a Texas Tech alumnus who’s served as a business professor there since 2000. “The question I’m concerned with is if freedom of speech is sufficient protection for you to be able to teach and research as long as you’re not doing misconduct and writing the truth as you understand it to be.”

According to the suit, Wetherbe was up for two key jobs within the last year: a Paul Whitfield Horn Professorship, the highest honor bestowed upon a faculty member, and dean of the Rawls College of Business. But Provost Bob Smith, who has said under oath that Wetherbe’s tenure views made him unfit for either job, along with former university President Guy Bailey, ignored the recommendations of two search committees and blocked him from further consideration as dean and Horn Professor.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Best. Teacher. Ever.


 sent in by CrayonEater

 original image credited to Nathan Anderson, @NathantheSnake

Vog3lfr3i Shares A Christmas Miracle.

Am not making this up. Only changed the name of the course. And this email came at the start of grading jail like a Christmas miracle.
- Vog3lfr3i


Dear Sir,

I can never thank you enough, this is just a try! With my heartfelt thanks, i want to express my gratitude to you for offering Hamster Nutrition this fall. Back in college time, I would usually be the last to solve a Nutrition question and i almost had a Nutrition-phobia. I like to challenge my fears and i did so by enrolling in Nutrition. Initially, it seemed intimidating, but over time i gained a profound understanding of the basic concepts and their applications. The decision of taking Nutrition from you this fall was, as i look back, the best decision ever!

The way you explain concepts and make complex things simpler is just outstanding. Your lectures were intriguing and i barely missed any! the best thing about your quizzes: Google didn't have any answer for them. You have been kind and helpful whenever i dropped by in your office (although i dropped by very few times).

I hope you will be as generous in future as you are now. I hope you will be available for any help, if needed, in future as well.

I once again thank you so much.

Yours' truly, ...



Advising Pre Med Penny

So, a student came to me for advising last week.  She wants to be a Physician's Assistant.  What courses should she take next?  Here's a playback of our conversation.


Professor Bella:  "Okay, Penny.  Physician's Assistant is a pretty rigorous Master's degree program, and it is very competitive, at least at the universities around here.  Let's take a look at your transcript."

Pause while Professor Bella pulls up Penny's transcript.  Penny is smiling blankly at Professor Bella.  Longer pause while Professor Bella frowns at Penny's transcript. Penny continues smiling blankly.

Professor Bella: "Penny, I see you are enrolled in Inner City Community College's generic does-not-really-do-anything-for-you associate's degree program. Students who want to transfer, especially those who would like most of their classes to transfer, too, should NOT be in that program.  If you want a career in the medical field where you need a Master's Level of education, you need to be in a pre med program when you get your bachelor's degree.  So this program, over here in the STEM Sciences, is your best bet."

Penny continues smiling blankly, although her smile is now a little less broad, and she has a little wrinkle between her brow.  She says nothing, so Professor Bella continues.

Professor Bella:  "These two science courses you took?  You got a C- in both.  That grade won't transfer.   So you need to take those again.  You should try for an A as this is, as I said, a very competitive program.  So, my first advice is to retake the first of those sciences again next semester."

Penny  has stopped smiling.  She sits up very straight in her chair.

Penny:  "Well, I have just had it with those science classes for now.  And I did very well in my two psychology classes, my three pre composition remedial English classes, and my public speaking class.  Will that help me get into the program?"

Professor Bella shifts in her seat so that she is entirely facing Penny.  She wants her to really listen.

Professor Bella:  "Penny, of course those good grades mean something.  You should be proud of those Bs.  But for the STEM science program here at Inner City, you only need one social science.  Your public speaking class can count as an elective, but as you see, you don't have many of those available in this program.  You need more four credit science and math classes.  And you need a C or better if you want them to transfer.  But as I said, you need a higher grade than a C if you want to get into that program at a four  year college.  Also, you should take your first Composition class next semester."

Penny seems upset.  She shifts in her seat.  She is now looking more out the window than at Professor Bella.  Professor Bella is thinking of what other programs she can suggest.  None of the medical field associate's programs at ICCC seem like a great fit for Penny.  

Penny:  "I like to help people. I saw that PAs make a ton of money.  I want to be a PA. I'll take those science classes later.  Can I just take something else next semester?  Look, right there it says you have to have a fine art.  I'll take painting and sociology.  That's what I wanted to take anyway."  Penny seems to have forgotten about the Comp class suggestion.

Professor Bella is exhausted, stressed, and wants Penny to leave.  

Professor Bella:  "Penny, you seem to like the social sciences.  Have you thought about a career in Human Services?"  The human services program is the biggest bunch of bullshit at ICCC.  Professor Bella thinks Penny would be a good fit.

Penny:  "No.  I don't want that.  I keep having advisers suggest that to me, but I saw how much those people make.  No way.  I want to be a PA."   Penny has lost patience.  "Don't worry.  I've got it. I'll be fine."  Penny gathers her things and leaves. Before she walks out the door, Professor Bella gives her a sticker that says she was advised, just as the folks at Student Services told her to do.  Penny puts it on her jacket as she walks out the door.

Professor Bella breathes a sigh of relief.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Unhealthy Semester

What a semester it's been.  I've been here, lurking.  Very occasionally commenting.  I just didn't have the mental energy to post, unfortunately.  I struggle with some mental health issues, and it took all of my energy to stay on the sane wagon.

The reason is that my first semester as a full-time adjunct has been absolutely terrifying.  My relationship with my institution resembles that of a a psychotic ex-significant other.  One minute its, "I love you, I want us to be together forever. I think we can make it happen."  The next, "You disgust me! And we might not need you next semester!"  If my institution were a real person, I would consider myself to be in an abusive relationship.

I just don't know how much longer I can do this.  It's not about the teaching or the students. I had a lot of fun and really loved my students (in a platonic, professorial way mind you).  They appeared to love me as well, asking for references and such.  I hadn't the heart to say, "Well, I might be here next semester, but I'm not sure."

The semester break couldn't have come at a better time, because I need to do some serious reflection.  I'm not sure I can do this long term.  I wish I could be the professor the students deserve, but circumstances don't allow it.  I need things like insurance and a steady paycheck and a stable environment where I won't be dumped at the drop of a hat. But I'll give it one more semester I guess.  I *think* I'll have a full class load, although there might be a January surprise waiting for me after the holidays.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Heri Za Kwanzaa; just pass the booze on this very blessed break.