Thursday, March 17, 2016

10 Years Ago Today. RYS Flashback.

Friday, March 17, 2006
On Maintaining One's Sanity

This job isn’t everything I expected and sometimes I get dragged down by administrative garbage disguised as tenure and promotion policies. Sometimes I get discouraged by my students’ lack of interest in the coursework.

My latest favorite story deals with Student ‘R’ – he was one of a frighteningly large number of students who failed my midterm. He came clean and admitted that he had waited until 2 days before the exam to open his text to read 5 chapters and 3 articles. Do I take pity on him and work my butt off to help him pass the class? Or do I suggest he drop the class now and perhaps take it next semester from a different instructor? It is still Spring Break, so I don’t have to decide just yet. I am leaning toward the latter, however. Lord knows you don’t want an angry student taking his failure out on you when evaluation time rolls around!

I get discouraged by the petty office politics, by the colleague down the hall who I am quite certain must have gone off her meds last week (I am never quite certain which version of Prof. X will show up at the next faculty meeting, which does provide some entertainment value to what is usually a boring rehash of insignificant committee meetings and has little bearing on my day to day work life). I teach, I publish, I have bitch sessions with some of my colleagues about how immature and moronic the students can be at times. I still often rate my day in terms of how well my classes went…did I seem to reach a few students here or there?

So I don’t think I am burned out just yet. I may have changed my expectations since I first arrived just to maintain my sanity. I certainly don’t assign work over spring break – that is just asking to be disappointed!

So I choose my battles, engage those students who at least appear to be interested, and write because that is what makes me happy.


  1. How does one, "work my butt off to help him pass the class?" Assuming you are doing your job to help all students learn and accurately evaluate their performance, what else can you do? The student has to learn the material, after all.

    1. Private tutoring, a.k.a. extended office hours. Not that I'm recommending it.

    2. My university has an exemplary writing center. They do more for grammar, sentence structure, and essay building than any of my classes do. I beg students to make use of it. They don't. I chose that battle and lost.

  2. You know, I read these old FYS posts and think, "How quaint to think that all we worried about back then was tenure and poor students."

    Right now our school is going through a financial and demographic crisis, and our teaching loads are being increased dramatically "just for one or two years". We're being forced to cut offerings back to the bare minimum every two years, and the stress levels are through the roof.

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