In celebration of being human, I present my moments of flakery from this year in the hopes that reminding myself of these moments will stop any more from occurring this month (we're on the quarter system, so there's still plenty of time for more).
The Contemplative Cynic's Moments of Flakery in 2013 (in no particular order):
1. Standing in front of my office door for a full 30 seconds while trying to unlock my office door by repeatedly pushing the "unlock" key on my car's remote while cursing its ineffectiveness. Aloud. And in front of students waiting to conference with me. The great thing about this was that when I went home later that day, my car was unlocked and ready for me. This is not the first time this has occurred.
2. Talking to Slacker Steve about his grade and how I was worried that he hadn't done very well on his midterm exam. Slacker Steve listened politely for two whole minutes while I gave suggestions on how he might raise his grade before saying, "Um, Professor Cynic, I'm not Slacker Steve; I got 96% on the midterm."
3. Eating someone else's strawberry yogurt from the department refrigerator. In my defense, the yogurt looked a lot like the strawberry yogurt I'd left there a week prior. It turns out that there is a HUGE difference between Fage yogurt and Dannon Oikos (hell if I know what it is, but the person whose Oikos yogurt I had eaten gave me an earful about it when I offered mine in exchange). To make amends, I brought my colleague four containers of the "right" yogurt as penance. Now I write my name on my yogurt container, not to stop others from eating it, but so that I know which one I can eat without getting another large sign posted on the refrigerator about only eating one's own snacks.
4. Questioning why students had only answered 30 of the 35 questions. "I don't understand why so many of you purposely just skipped five questions!" I announced. One soul raised her hand to say, "But the instructions said to answer 30 of the 35." Sure enough...
5. In the same category: instructing students to answer five of the seven questions, only to realize that I had provided only five questions for them to answer. Counting is clearly not my forte.
6. Asking a colleague how the dissertation was coming. I'd completely forgotten how defensive I would get when anyone would ask how my dissertation was coming before it was in its final stages and that I had promised myself never to ask anyone about their dissertation in quite the same way. The look he gave me reminded me of why I'd originally vowed never to ask anyone writing a dissertation how it was coming.
7. Silently clapping (making the motions but not actually connecting hands) at all-faculty meeting when the president announced that the meeting would end half an hour early. This resulted in an email from the president asking me if I suffered from low campus morale. I didn't know what that meant, so responded that I had 78 essays still to grade and that the extra half hour was sure to raise my morale.
8. Carrying a 64 oz bottle of apple juice to class, only to have the bag break and the bottle fall through. It bounced all the way down the stairs and broke on the bottom step, and despite my attempts to clean up the whole area (I even used the clunky mop and bucket contraption that requires a special certificate to figure out), several weeks later, I still find sticky spots when climbing the stairs.
9. Becoming enraged during a final exam when I heard a cell phone ring, only to realize the sound was coming from my own bag. This is also not the first time this has occurred.
10. In class, during a lesson on ancient gods, while reading Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods, googling (for all to see, since my computer was connected to the projector) "vagina eating gods." Go ahead. Google it. See what popped up for the whole class's bemusement.
There are more moments, but I cannot possibly cop to more than ten without feeling like a total Profflake. Feel free to confess your own moment(s) of flakery. I suspect I'm not alone... or at least, I HOPE I'm not alone.
I remember another: rushing to campus to give a final exam, only to find campus deserted. It was a Sunday, not the Monday I'd thought it was...ReplyDelete
Sounds like the time I took my very young son to my field research site for a reunion. I was very organized, picking him up early from day care with the truck full of camping gear and kiddie snacks. We arrived hours later at the remote desert site, finding ourselves alone and without the combination to the lock. It hadn't been changed to our code yet because the reunion was the *following* week. I talked our way in with a passing scientist who took pity on us, and my little son got two weekends in a row of camping with Mom.Delete
LOL--I'm glad I'm not alone. Really! I wish I had a young child because at least that would explain some of the distraction. :)Delete
I had one just a couple of weeks ago.ReplyDelete
I tried to have a conversation in class about one of the required readings. When it became clear that no-one had done the reading, I got on my high horse about their lack of commitment, and how it was going to come back and bite them on the ass during the final exam.
After class, two students came up and pointed out that the reading I had tried to discuss was not listed on the course syllabus. I checked, and sure enough, I had apparently forgotten to add it to the LMS.
The first thing I did in the next class meeting was to eat a large portion of crow.
In early January, I asked a secretary (administrative assistant?) to make a copy of the huge, bound Report That Everyone Else Had Received (RTEEHR). A week later, I had not received it, so I called her and left a message on her machine. Same thing a week later. Two weeks later, I talked to her supervisor. After spring break, I ran into the president and said to hir, "You know, I just don't understand why she won't make a copy of the RTEEHR for me. She always seemed to get along with me. I thought I got along with her, but she's really falling down on the job. Is she struggling with some personal issues? I need that report...."ReplyDelete
The following week, someone in the secretary's office asked me why I hadn't picked up my copy of the RTEEHR. It had been sitting on the top of all the mailboxes (because it was literally too huge to fit into mine), just gathering dust for months. The secretary had left my copy there before Christmas--with a sticky note that clearly said, "Dr. Bubba's copy."
I recently handed a student some confidential paperwork as part of a pile of papers I was giving her. I was so desperate to get it back that I actually broke a cardinal rule and called her with my personal phone so she could phone OR text me back. Thank God she is a lovely, honest individual who brought it back right away. I was sweating bullets and cursing my inattentiveness until she replied.ReplyDelete
I have to say I LOLed at your silent hand clapping, your president's admonishment via e-mail, and your reply. Perfect.
Oh and your yoghurt eating co-worker is weird. Fage rules!
This isn't quite a facepalm moment, but I had a moment of sheer humanity during student presentations this past week. The presenting student was discussing something that came out in the mid-90s, something I distinctly remember due to its surrounding hullabaloo, and suddenly declared to the class as an afterthought, "But that was a really long time ago..." Cue Edna making a bug-eye face, at which point a perceptive kid caught my reflexive mugging and chuckled softly (and I dare to hope sympathetically) to himself.ReplyDelete
Seriously, I never expected to feel so old so early in my career. (NB: I defended at 30 and am not even halfway through my first post-doctoral decade....)
These are hilarious! I gave a quiz once on the wrong reading----material from the previous semester. I must have been looking at last semester's syllabus when I made up the quiz. My students took the quiz in silence, nervous. As I collected the quizzes, I noticed that no one had answered anything correctly, and I was fuming. I was working my way into a mini tirade when one of my students very timidly asked whether I was sure I had actually assigned them to read any of that. Her earnestness made me falter, that and the fact that she was an A student. I went to the syllabus, the correct one, and noticed my mistake. Boy, did I have to eat crow on that one! Not to mention that everything I had prepared for that day was on the wrong readings!ReplyDelete
After a hard swim I went in, took a shower and walked in the buff (with towel) only to find a female at her locker (still dressed).....wrong locker room (I am male).ReplyDelete
This appeared in Rate Your Students. (note: "Harriet" is a joke name; I am a guy)
CC, you are a delight. I do the thing with my car remote all the time.ReplyDelete
Fage yogurt is totally better than Dannon.
This year I did manage to lock myself out of my apartment, while my partner was at work, at dinnertime, sans phone or wallet. Since God protects fools and children, there were free sandwiches in the department.
I think the statute of limitations has expired on this one...ReplyDelete
I was teaching a multi-campus course (closed circuit broadcast.) I give a cumulative final exam. I was using the mid-term test as a template for the final and re-named the file twice, once when I first opened it and changed the title from "Mid-Term" to "Final" and again when I finished adding and changing questions. I sent the first saved file to the extension campus. It had no "new" questions on it.
I confessed to the department dean but no one else. The students didn't say anything and their grades didn't improve or drop based on how they did on the "final;" they were all squarely "in the middle" going into the final so it would have taken a minor miracle or catastrophe for them to move up or down. Catastrophe averted.
At the Congress on Medieval Studies this past weekend I almost--and only almost because the scholar in question didn't stop to talk to me--asked the wrong person about an essay; I was about to ask the *editor of the collection* instead of the *actual author* about the wider implications of his work in a particular study. I'm glad the editor didn't have time to talk to me; I nearly made a complete ass out of myself.ReplyDelete
Early in my teaching career I ripped into a class about the poor results on the test. How they had disappointed me!!!!!!!!!!!ReplyDelete
At the end of the ripping two of them came up with a nice card that had been signed by the entire class. Lots of love. Huh?
Crap. Don't hand tests back on Valentine's Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Awkward turtle! OUCH! I had something similar happen, except not on that magnitude. During Christmas vacation, a student asked if he could come talk to me (we are on a residential campus and he hadn't gone home). I told him I was on vacation, but he caught me in my office nonetheless. When he came up to my door, I told him I was very busy and that it was vacation, and I shut my office door firmly. About ten minutes late, a note slid under the door. In it, he thanked me for being patient with him all quarter and for helping him to realize the importance of the subject and of getting an education. Since then, he has stopped by a few times to report on his progress in college and to additionally thank me for my help.Delete
I had one professor tell a story about how he would stand on furniture to lecture or make a point to get students' attention. He stopped doing that after he ripped his pants, fled behind a lectern, curled up in a ball, and, in a meek voice, squeaked "Class dismissed! Class dismissed!" His recommendation to us was to never lecture standing on furniture unless one was wearing Spandex.ReplyDelete
I did have another professor that loved to stand on furniture. He came close to falling out the nearby window, but he never did. Thankfully, our class was on the first floor with two student paramedics at the front of the class which would have been helpful in the event of a defenestrated prof.
I once walked into the computer lab where I teach and there were students working. I reminded them that my class started in a few minutes and they would need to save their work and vacate the lab. Except that my class didn't start for several hours.ReplyDelete
I handed back a test and read a list of names of the students whose grades had improved since the last test, emphasizing the number of points of improvement for those who had the greatest difference in their scores.ReplyDelete
Yep. They were the students whose scores *dropped* the most, and I had singled out the biggest drops. I don't read the names any more for any reason.
I have many more moments to add but have to go teach first. Wonder what I'll do in the next period that will be list-worthy?
Wait, what? You read their scores to the class? Was this pre-FERPA?Delete
I didn't read the scores; I read the names of students who had (I thought) improved from the first exam to the second. I didn't say what either of the test scores was, but did say what the difference was. This is because I was trying to reward them for improvement.Delete
But, as you say, it was a huge mistake any way you look at it.
I have twice in my career thus far handed back an assignment without recording the grades, forcing me to later ask for the assignment back. The first time it was a relatively minor part of the semester's grade, so I just quietly gave full marks to those who "lost" their assignment, but the second time it was a mid-term.ReplyDelete
I have since revised my procedures to include several fail-safes.
Oh, I've done that. LUckily, not this year, but yes... What's disheartening is how many of them fail to produce the assignment the next day when I DO realize my mistake. They claim, "I threw it out."Delete
Best new parent flakery: realizing at the end of the day that not only was my shirt inside out (a knit shell, the inside part of a twin set), but I had 2 earrings in one earlobe and none in the other. I have one hole per earlobe.ReplyDelete
Frequent flakery: losing the whiteboard marker, the laptop remote or my keys as I wander around the classroom.
Best total flakery: starting a class with a PowerPoint presentation about a recent discovery in the news. Doing this for 3 classes in a row. 3/4 through the third class, saying, "By the way, did you see this amazing story in the news?" and repeating the PPT for that class. Oh, my students shared so many amazed glances! I thought, "Finally, *this* class appreciates how earth-shaking this news is." One finally raised her hand to politely set me straight.
Most entertaining missteps: a bizarre number of malaprops and drawings on the board that turn out vaguely or clearly obscene. The grain silo. The timeline next to the human figure. "In a prominent place" + "in a conspicuous place" coming out as "in a promiscuous place".
Inexplicable complete loss of classroom brain filter leading to shocked silence, then hysterical falling-off-chairs laughter:
while trying to explain how different cultures can have vastly different definitions of obscenity, I cited the example of certain North American Indian tribes where you *never* say the name of a dead relative or friend. In the heat of an argument, you would up the ante in a truly shocking way if you said the name of the other person's deceased relative. For some reason I still do not understand, I said "this is like, in our own culture, if you called someone a grandmother-fucker."
Remember, I wear twin sets.
Awesome. LOL. :)Delete
I have worn different colored shoes, but haven't managed an inside-out shirt (came close once, but was stopped before I left home).
Those are all fucking fabulous. And "grandmother-fucker" is going to be my new go-to example of obscene language.Delete
@CC: Different colored shoes! If they were bright colors, you could have been riding the retro/nerd/cool trend of wearing bowling shoes. But I'm betting they were either black and navy blue, or black and brown. The closet is dark in the morning.Delete
@Wylodmayer: Glad to add to your fucking vocabulary.
I knew there was a reason I don't want one of those new-fangled electronic key thingies (besides the fact that they're expensive and bulky and require batteries. Mind you, I wouldn't mind the new car that goes along with said key thingies, but since I can't afford one of those at the moment, I comfort myself with the fact that I get to keep using a cheap mechanical key that does the job just find thankyouverymuch). I do regularly try to open my office with my apartment key (and sometimes vice versa).ReplyDelete
I wish my mistakes were more earth-shaking, or at least amusing. Like others above, I mix up students. I mix up classes. I forget whether the present class is using APA or MLA style citations. I occasionally answer an email from a student in one class as if (s)he belonged to another class on a different schedule. And I (justifiably) annoy students by taking longer than I think I should (as well as longer than they think I should) to get work back to them. (I also annoy them by not awarding As as easily as some think I should, but that's not an example of human frailty; that's doing my job).
Four years ago I bought my first new car, ever (Thank you, Honda, for such a low APR loan). I miss the old-fashioned way of locking doors. Even now, I constantly return to my car to make sure I've locked it (every day!). Something about the physical act of pushing down a lock clicked in my brain, but not pushing a button on a remote. I miss my old car (well, not its tendency to break down), but at least the locking of the car.ReplyDelete
Your way is much more considerate than my way of double-checking the lock from a distance. I click the lock button a second time, making it beep and adding noise pollution wherever I am. Next time, I will think: "WWTCCD?".Delete
LOL--Proffie Galore, that means you'll need to trip often and drop things twice as often as you trip. :)Delete
Almost two decades ago, knocked over a large Starbucks cup of coffee which spewed across my seminar table and into the lap of the one student who had never said a word.ReplyDelete
Also during the same era, arrived in class with a gigantic hickey inexpertly covered with makeup and a scarf.
More recently, gotten chalk on my hands and then proceeded to put large handprints on my butt.
Created a PowerPoint presentation only to get to class and realize I don't have the dingle-dongle thingie to connect my computer to the laptop projector.
And my favorite, in the second class of my first job ever: prepped for class with an older, expurgated edition of a book that the students had in the newer, restored edition. Which meant that when a student who turned out to be very smart asked about the role of the masturbation scene in the novel, I just blinked at him. And then I said -- gambling -- "That is such an important question that I want to lead the next class with it." Then right after class I *ran* to the bookstore, bought the new edition, read it cover to cover, and thank god the masturbation scene was indeed worth an entire class. But what if?!!