December 12, 2009

Hell Semester Gets Nasty

Posted in Semester endcap, student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , , , , at 7:26 pm by profart

So I get this email from my department chair. Apparently, some folks have gone whining to her about how unfair and unprofessional I am. Hmmmm. Let me see. I bet I can tell you who they are!

The only legitimate incident would be when I slam a book on a sleeping student’s desk. I had two of those this semester, and one last semester. I can see why folks might label that “unprofessional”, since it does disrupt the other students. However, sleeping in class is a problem students need to resolve to be successful. And I only slam for multiple offenders.

I have the student who was reading a book as I completed taking roll. I asked them to please put the book away. They got shirty with me because they “just had this last bit to go to finish the chapter!” How dare I ask them not to read that last little bit and instead pay attention to the class!

There is Have I Done Enough Work Yet? student, who keeps asking when things will be graded, when will things be available, and is this draft good enough? Give me my week to get writing assessments graded, please. If you turn in a class full of 5-page papers on Monday, it is unlikely that I will have them by Wednesday- and even next Monday might be sketchy, as I am not skimming, and at this level, these papers often need extensive commentary.

Then, of course, we have Lucky. I bet Lucky has bad-mouthed me all over campus. I know they had done so all over the counseling office, and to every ear they could bend around the satellite center.

And let’s hear it for my Careless Student, who sat in the back of the class and chatted with their neighbors, and when I asked them to participate, told me they didn’t want to learn this stuff now, they might forget it before the test. Um… huh? Or the Careless Students who liked to cluster about someone’s laptop and chitchat instead of taking notes, and then look at me blankly when I ask them a question or give them an assignment to do.

Or Arguer, who just couldn’t understand that a “works cited” page is not actually citing works. You can’t have a “works cited” without any citations in the paper! For some reason, arguing with me about this was considered an appropriate thing to do, rather than to just go put the citations into the paper.

You know, I think I’m a little tired. I think next semester, I’ll have some changes. For one, I’ll have some online tutorials about how to write and cite a paper. I will have a tutorial about classroom expectations, maybe some of the tips I have provided on this blog. And then I will make a major policy change: no second chances. Because seriously, that is where I end up with the most trouble. “This paper needs citations, here, please do them.” “WHAT? Isn’t a bibliography enough for you?!?” “?”

No, no more of this. No citations, you flunk. Period. And I am going to make that policy clear in the syllabus: papers without proper citations will be an automatic zero. See tutorial for information about how to cite a paper. What you give me is your final version, period. Not done correctly? You should have paid attention to the instructions the first time.

Rough drafts before the due date still accepted.

December 7, 2009

Questions that make my skin crawl

Posted in Semester endcap, student stories tagged , at 9:47 pm by profart

Here we are at the end of the semester at last. This has been a long one, as I took on some extra classes, particularly and upper-level for a sick comrade-in-arms. Yet I dutifully put in the time for each class, and made sure my students didn’t have to over-share my time between them (though there are still only 24 hours in a day). I forewent sleep in order to grade assignments. I skipped leisure time to offer extra office hours. I put up my usually array of study aids and crutches, even though some of them had to be done from scratch. I accepted rough drafts up to the usual deadline.

Yet I am repaid with the usual array of questions that really get my blood freezing and my skin crawling:

We have to bring the essay to the exam? Can I email it instead? (answer: NO.)
Review? Where is that online? (Under the module marked “Final Exam Review.”) Where are the modules? (in BlackBoard, in the menu, where they have been ALL SEMESTER.)
What’s BlackBoard?
My paper had a “works cited”. Doesn’t that count as citations? (NO. You cannot have “works cited” unless you actually cite the works! And I told you it didn’t, and gave you a second chance to turn in the paper- and you still have no citations!)
When is the exam? (Help! I am turning blue!)
I have three exams that day. Can you move yours? (NO. the exam schedule is posted at teh beginning of registration. Plan accordingly.)
Can I turn in the assignments I missed? (Those were due WEEKS ago. NO.)
Are you offering extra credit? (So you can give me more crappy “work”? NO NO NO!!!)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!! Yes, the end of the semester is upon us. Armageddon is here. Tell Armageddon home.* Please.

*If you don’t do MUDs, it’s OK, I know you don’t get it.

December 3, 2009

Plagiarists beware: Flunky flunky!

Posted in student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , , , , , , at 1:29 pm by profart

I hate it when students flunk. It’s bad on my nerves. I always feel like there is something more I should have done, something more I should have said. I agonize over placing the fat, honkin’ F on that record, especially with students who have at least warmed their seat all semester. But one must get what one earns, even if I lose a little sleep over it.

With one exception. Plagiarists. Don’t feel like doing footnotes? I’m going to flunk you, and not even bat an eye. Want to just copy material in from books, or cut and paste from websites? Flunky flunky! I just don’t tolerate theft of other people’s ideas and hard work, just because you are too frickin’ lazy to do your own.

With the citations thing, I give my kids a gentle second chance. Either I flip through the papers as they hand them in, and hand it back if there are no citations (or at least try to); or if they are emailed, I will send an email noting that I clearly have the wrong draft, and would they kindly email me the correct one, the one with citations? Because if that is not enough of a hint to correct the issue, they deserve to flunk for outright stupidity. We have enough thick-headed academics in the world, and I am sure if a couple professors had flunked their butts when they were being thick, instead of just passing them off to the next poor fool, we’d have a lot less of them.

There is nothing I consider more EPIC FAIL than failing to cite sources in a writing assignment, especially in upper-level courses, where it should be practically second nature. And I have one policy for EPIC FAIL: an F on your transcript.

A Question of Semantics

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:16 am by profart

Ok, after a massive increase in unfortunate incidents and attitudes, I have decided I need something in my syllabus that makes it clear that if you are rude to me in class, I reserve the right to flunk your butt. If you are belligerent, argumentative, and start shouting at me when I ask you to please be quiet, please do not interrupt class, please cite your work, etc., I reserve the right to flunk your butt. Flunk it right to Hell-o Kitty.

Now, I ask you, gentle readers, how to word that. Anybody else have a “watch your attitude” clause?