We get a ton of email from folks with little bits of stories. They're all great, and we enjoy them. They're tasty aperitifs that precede some meatier fare.
But they don't make for great posts on RYS. We sometimes work with the writers to expand the little bits into bigger pieces. We make brilliant suggestions. Writers ignore those. They make better choices. And then the piece appears a few days later. But sometimes there's nothing else to them, and we always feel bad hitting delete.
So, we've saved some of our favorites from October (2006) and they are offered below, unconnected, not thematic, just some little bits of stuff that didn't fit anywhere else.
Sure, this hodge podge of mini-posts may make it seem like we're being lazy, but put those negative thoughts out of your head. We're doing all we can, given that we had a huge crash last night after getting into the leftover Halloween stuff.
- I got a frantic email this evening from a student in my mid-level undergrad course. She just now realized - 9 weeks into the term - that she took and completed this same course last year. It's exactly the same course, with the same title and course number, the same textbook and the same assignments. She wrote that she "didn't know" that she had taken the course before. I'm sure she didn't know, because she's been too busy playing Tetris on her cellphone.
- It might be worth pointing out that ratemyprofessors.com now allows students to upload pictures of their profs for public viewing. "Ohhh Snap!" it ever-so-articulately states. "RateMyProfessors.com just launched Professor Pictures! Bust out your camera phone and upload your professor's picture today!"
- I am tired of babysitting my students. I feel as if I'm in middle school, reminding them to do things like bring a pen to class, bring their books, turn off their phones, put the fucking newspaper down, stop fidgeting, close up the potato chips, take their feet off the desk (and put their flip flops back on!) I have told students several times this semester to quit talking while someone else is talking, to not come to class 40 minutes late, to not take phone calls during class. They sit there with the most perplexed looks.
- I assigned an evaluation essay to my class, and I specified a thorough evaluation of at least three brands or items from a single product line - three different toothpastes, three different kinds of multi-grain bread, etc. The example we read in our textbook actually was a cute student essay about three different brands of soda that the writer had inventively evaluated for taste, after-taste, coolness factor, cost, and nutritional value. This one student wrote a paper that was about the first time he tasted his grandfather's beef jerky and how much he liked it. I gave the paper back after class with the D and he blew a gasket. Don't I know how hard he worked on it? Didn't I know that he went to the trouble to have his mom proofread it - "And she lives all the way in Pennsylvania!"
- I get a paper that's a C. I give it a B. And then the mommy calls me – at home – demanding to know why I didn't give it an A. After all, mommy's S.L.G. (Special Little Genius) absolutely MUST go to Harvard or Oxford or Yale or Cambridge or wherever, and if I don't give S.L.G. an "A," mommy and daddy will have 'a talk' with the principal and pull the student - and all that tuition - from our school and send S.L.G. to a private school where he *will* get an A.
- Let's just be clear on one thing. Sometimes they ARE pajama pants. Yes, the ones with the little slit in the front. And the guy in my 4:30 pm class who consistently wears them really shouldn't sit in a wide V-position, with one leg bent up on the chair next to him. This should be especially true when he's not wearing underwear. When the other guys in class berated him for it earlier in the semester, he grabbed his crotch and said, "I'm just giving the ladies a little something to think about."
- You guys need to post more listings of students to avoid. I'm just getting going in this business, and I can't tell the regular ass-kissers from the ass-kissers who are going to be a problem after that first bad grade. Is there a system?
- On the first day of class I introduce myself as Professor Hewitt. I do not use my first name around the students. I do not sign my e-mails with my first name. And yet in class and in e-mail the students seem to feel free to call me Richard, Rick, or Dick. Here's a hint, Mr. and Miss Bad Manners: if you don' t know which nickname someone uses, use their last name instead. And here's another hint: if someone is in a position of authority over you, and is two or three times your age, you might want to try formality as a sign of respect. Just an idea.
- Where on earth do students get the idea that I am going to postpone their exam because their boyfriend's mother had a foot operation? Unless I drove over this person's foot in my own car, it's not a story I'm interested in.
- If a cell phone goes off in class, I send that student home, mark him/her absent, and give the rest of the class a pop-quiz. The student with the phone gets a zero, of course. This way, I punish the entire class for one student’s mistake. It breeds a general hostility between class members and toward the offensive student. But I'm never bothered by cell phones again. Grow up or get out. Make room for someone who still gives a shit.