Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Is the semester over yet???

A sampling of emails I have received in the last week...

From a senior graduating next month:

Dr. N:
I have to take my dog into the vet this morning to get her skin checked. This is the only time I could get (I guess the [town] vet is really busy)for like a month and she really needs to get in to see him. I'm sorry I'm missing [other student]'s presentation and I will just drop the lab off in your mailbox later today.

What else is there to say?

From a student in my freshmen-level class- note the formal greeting:

I’m not sure if you have posted it or not cause it has been a while, but have you graded lab 9 yet? No worries if you have not, but I just want to make sure I was graded for that because I did complete it. Thanks!

Is this student unaware that the TA grades all the labs?

From a sophomore in my junior-level class

Dr. N:
My name is [student] and I am in your T,TH class. Yesterday I ended up driving back home ([6-hour away town]) and after I got home, spent about 6 hours in the ER. Later this week I have appointments to see two different specialists reguarding my condition. Im sorry I couldnt make it to class today but I hope to be back on Tuesday. Thanks for your understanding.

I have no idea what the "condition" is

From a student in my freshmen-level course

Hi Dr. N,
This is [student]. I emailed a copy of my paper, due to printer/internet problems. Today in lab [TA] did not find a graded copy of it. It also is not listed as a grade on blackboard. I was wondering if you did not receive it or if any other problems or if it was just lost in the shuffel. Thank you for your time and help.

I had "forgotten" to print the paper that was emailed to me without my consent. The student lost some credit for emailing it.


Seeking Solace said...

Hee, Hee!

We should have a blogger contest for worst excuse ever or worst student emial ever. It would be a total hoot!

Glad to see you are blogging again!!!

Addy N. said...

Hi SS: I've been so swamped this semester that I haven't felt like I have time to sit down and write a 'proper' blog post! With the grading coming up, that may change!

Arbitrista (formerly Publius) said...

What would be really cool is if we held another contest for greatest comeback after such stupid excuses!

Anonymous said...

I take it that you never made any excuses or ever asked for special dispensations when you were a student. If you did, you are just like your students.

Addy N. said...

Oh, anonymous poster- don't make me disable anonymous commenting! Actually, no I NEVER did ask for special treatment or for assignment extensions as a student. I am not saying that I was the best student, but was usually too afraid of my professors to even talk to them, let alone share the intimate details of my life with them! The level of familiarity and casualness that the students have with me is something I could never have imagined when I was a student. If I ever missed class or assignments as a student, I took what was coming to me- I didn't hassle my professors (or even TAs!) with things like these.

bitch said...

Also, it's partially how they asked for the special treatment. Sending off a poorly written e-mail to someone you are essentially asking for a favour and who is in a position of authority to you looks horrible, any way you slice it.

I think there is a distinct lack of taking responsibility for your own actions (or inactions) with these requests.

SHA said...

I don't understand: are you suggesting that your students should be in awe of you and fear you rather than trying to relate to you as another person?
I think it's important to remember that a greater number of students these days have families and jobs that compete for their attention. I definitely believe that school should be a top priority if you're going to commit to it, but you can't just ignore your responsibilities outside of school. Or do you assume that your students are all lying?

Addy N. said...

Oh dear- so much negativity! I posted those emails to show how much I am bombarded with these issues on a daily basis. I always take students at their word, so it's safe to assume that there must be some who ARE lying- however, I don't call them on it (it's not worth it). And NO- I do not think students should be in awe or fear me, either. If anything, they should realize that I have other responsibilities than to hold their hands through every assignment. AND for the record- my U has VERY few non-traditional students- they are MOSTLY 18-22 and supported by their parents. Regardless of this, I treat them with respect and help them anyway I can. It just get to be a bit overwhleming when I get the amount of email I do!

Arbitrista (formerly Publius) said...

I've got your back, Addy N. Students think professors are there to make sure they get A's, like we owe them something.

Addy N. said...

Thanks to 'Bitch' and Publius for supporting me! You know what I mean.... I love email, but it can get to be a real pain sometimes!

Anonymous said...

Students messing up, losing work, not doing work, grandmothers dying, etc., are classic. What is new is that email means that students can now project their avoidance without even working up the energy to lie in person.

Tales of weak, bad, and inappropriate student communication via email is rife in the profession. But student bad behaviour is just an extension of the bad behaviour we know inculcate in our culture, which of course is why it grates. It means on some level our students take us as their employee, or worse, Nanny, when they address us thusly. But I always take a page from University Diaries page, and formally address and sign every email, like it's a letter. It makes it very hard, after the first time, to then have someone write, "Hey" as an appropriate greeting.

And, I might add, as someone who teaches almost exclusively non-trad students, I have not had one weak or flabby lie/excuse for late work. 98% of my students get stuff in on time, and the other 2% typically email or call *beforehand*. So, the problem here is not non-trad, but actually is, as usual, the Nanny State of the trad student.

Addy N. said...

Hi Oso: Thanks for the comment- I just wanted to clarify that I wasn't linking work-ethic with whether students are traditional or not- I only mentioned my U's demographics in response to the one of the previous comments "that a greater number of students these days have families and jobs that compete for their attention." I was only pointing out that 99% of my students do not have full-time jobs outside of school. Your points are well-taken! I would love to hear about your strategies for keeping students accountable.

USJogger said...

Sorry, but the contest for the worst excuse ever is over before it even began.

(Gotten via the Teaching Carnival, of course)


P.S. I'm sure that a lot of students don't understand that we can love our students and root for them to succeed, but at the same time laugh at their foibles. I love reading (and posting) these "Hey, guess what my student did today!" posts, but not because I hate my students.

Addy N. said...

I'm with ya' Jogger! That shoes story is great, but I had a student the other week come running breathless to my office after class (the day something was due), saying he couldn't come to class because he was locked out of his dorm room all night. I'm not sure what the connection is, but I didn't even ask!

Anonymous said...

Addy N: Thank you for replying to my post and helping me understand your perspective. I think my confusion mostly came from your response to Anonymous poster. When I look back at my post, I can see that it came off as negative, but I was really just trying to understand where you were coming from and offer a possible explanation for the perceived increase in student excuses.

I can relate to feeling frustrated and taken advantage of by students who ask for exceptions. I try to be understanding, but each exception I make creates more work for me. I know it must be possible to both be understanding and to connect actions with consequences, but how to find the balance?

Addy N. said...

SHA: Thanks for the follow-up! I completely agree with you. I am always torn between being a 'hard-ass', because students are supposed to be grown-ups and should learn to take responsibility and feeling like I am just being petty and it's not worth the fight. And you're right- It is a pain when we have to make exceptions and special arrangements. It's also unfair to the other students who get things in on time and follow the rules. Thanks for registering on blogger so you could comment, too! Take care.

Anonymous said...

Oh, LOVE the spelling of "shuffel." Also, just found your blog and I think I will be spending much time here!

Addy N. said...

Welcome, Teacher lady! I looked at your profile and realized that we must be almost the EXACT same age! What day is your birthday? I'm Sept. 3rd. I'll check out your blog, too!

Anonymous said...

August 31. Another Virgo in education. Also, I wanted to add that I agree so much with what everyone is saying. Until you teach, you TRULY cannot grasp how exhilirating, exhausting and maddening teaching can be. And usjogger is 110% right. We don't want them to fail; we're not their worst enemy - in most cases, THEY are their own worst enemy. So, we blog and post and rant and rave. We laugh, so as not to cry, blah, blah, deep and insighful.