I am a bit of a miserable heap this week. Yesterday I met with students all day. It was fine. It’s interesting to see how hard they are working for a little analysis that’s 5% of their grade. But to their credit, they want to “get it right” so they can do well on the next one and not have to revise.
It’s a weird thing here. I gave out a lot, I mean a lot of Ds and Fs on this assignment. Probably 25-30 out of about 70. And you know what the biggest difference thus far between here and Fancy Town U is with this? Not a single student emailed me or came into my office defensive or angry claiming that the grade was “unfair” or “bullshit” or that they deserved a better grade because they worked really really hard on it. Their attitudes were either a) how can I make this better because I understand what I did wrong now and I need help or b) I want to make this better but I don’t know what I did wrong. I got a couple “I need a B in this class” things, but no “it’s not fair/you’re not fair/this assignment isn’t fair/this is bullshit” or any other variation. I was cringing with agony after I posted the grades expecting my email to just explode, but a funny thing happened. It didn’t. And while there was a line outside of my office door to talk about the lit analyses, they all went really well except for one, and that one didn’t go badly because the student was aggressive or entitled or anything. It went poorly because Stu just doesn’t get it, and I can’t seem to make hir get it, and Stu won’t go to the writing center for additional help. But what? One crying Stu and an exhausting meeting out of about 30? That’s not bad at all.
Even though I’m now officially behind on grading and will have to grade like a motherfucker today, and while I fear I’m coming down with something, so I’m going to just have to let the workouts this week go away and not beat myself up about it, I noticed something else yesterday, too. About myself. While I don’t think I’m doing a great job in the comp class because I never feel like I’m doing a great job or a good job in the comp class, I feel like overall, I’m a better professor here because I have more confidence in myself here. Again, maybe it’s having been at Fancy Town U for two years, but I don’t have a chip on my shoulder. And the biggest thing is I don’t feel like the students don’t respect me. Maybe they actually don’t and I’m going to get slammed on my evals, but in the comp class I don’t feel like they feel it’s a waste of their time. I know they don’t want to be there, but I don’t feel like they feel that if they know me as a person that my authority in the classroom is gone. It’s weird. Again, it might come back to bite me, so we’ll see. Not that I’m like inappropriate by any means, but like the fact that I can laugh so hard at one of my own jokes that I have tears running down my face doesn’t derail the entire class. Does that make sense?
The survey class, well, I know that none of them really want to be there, except the lone English major. One lone English major out of 70 registered students. About 1/4 of them seem attentive. As I’ve never taught such a huge (35 stus per section) survey course before, I have to assume that 1/4 attentive students on any given day is a good thing. I’ve lost a few out of those 70 students, and a couple are going to out and out just fail miserably for various reasons. And like 4 have never shown up to class. And it’s a hard class. Almost 2 hours. I do a decent amount of lecturing, and the same 5 people participate regularly, and it’s no surprise that those same five people are the ones who did the best on the exam. And I’m trying to clue them into that, but oh well. But, none of them are crying foul either to me or my boss, so they either don’t care, don’t want to do anything about it, are afraid to complain, or realize that there’s nothing to complain about. I have one who doesn’t want to fail for absences, and I guess it’s understood at this point that I’ll forgive the absences (Stu should fail because zie has missed 5.5 days already) if Stu can do the work; however, I made it clear to Stu that while zie can certainly show up if zie wants to, the likelihood of even passing with a D is very very low. Because Stu doesn’t even have the book. For a literature class. I told Stu that perhaps it might be best to focus on the classes zie can pass because without the book? Seriously? And no intention of getting the book? Seriously? Clearly the internet is not working for you because the version of Franklin you read claimed that his son was mentally challenged. So I’m not sure what’s up with that. But, whatever. I told Stu zie should talk with hir advisor and perhaps consider going to the counselor if zie is struggling so much that the last four quarters have been D/F quarters. But, oh well. So really, 2 problem children who aren’t really problems out of 96? That’s not bad. I can deal with that.
And now it appears that I must sally forth and begin to get ready. I may go to campus early to try to finish grading because I do not want to grade here. And I need to reread three pages for the comp class today. I really feel like stomping my feet and throwing a tempertantrum crying out “I don’t wanna!” But alas I must. That’s why I get paid the small bucks.