Saturday, December 18, 2010

Things I would like to tell my students.

Anyone who has gone to school knows something about the interaction between students and teachers, but now that I have years of teaching university-level classes under my belt I think I have a very different perspective on the situation than I did when I was an undergraduate.  Here are a few things I wish I could tell my students (but probably won't):

1. I know more than you think I know.  I know that you are watching the latest soccer game or texting/IMing your friends on your iPhone/iPad/laptop in the back of class.  I know that you fell asleep during class today.  I know that the reason you are wearing your hat over your eyes is because you think I won't be able to tell that you came to class high.  I know from looking at the test papers who cheated off of whom.  I know when you didn't write your paper, even if I can't google the site you copied directly (which I usually can).  Just because I don't constantly interrupt class to tell you to stop texting or passing notes with your friends doesn't mean I don't know you are doing it.  I'm not stupid.  In fact, not being stupid is kind of a requirement for this job.

2. Well-done work is easier and faster to grade than poorly done work.  It takes me much longer and costs much more mental pain to grade a bad paper or test than a good paper or test.  Why don't you make it better for both of us by just doing good work?

3. I don't take it personally.  Every semester things happen in students' lives that affect their scholastic performance even though these things have nothing to do with school.  I don't blame you for missing class because your boyfriend is having surgery, because you have to get a new job so you can make your car payment, or because your mom needs help.  I don't take your absence from class as a personal comment on my teaching.  I was a freshman once who didn't want to go to class either.  But I hope you will also not take it personally when you get a bad grade because you didn't get the material we covered in class when you were gone.  It really does affect the quality of your work.

4. Please be an adult.  Please do not talk to me or e-mail me at the end of the semester asking for me to bump up your grade or asking for extra credit work.  I am not disposed to assign you extra work which I will then have to grade because you didn't do your other work.  I am sorry that you are disappointed with your grade but that alone is not a reason for me to change it.  As a wise person once told me, "Failure is feedback."  It is not the end of the world to fail a class and have to do it again (and I can say that because I've done it myself!).  I am sympathetic that your parents will be disappointed and you will have to scrape together the money for another semester, but in the grand scheme of things it will be okay.

Glad I got that off my chest! :)

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