Yesterday, I started a post where I was bitching about my students. And then I stopped because I realized how whiny it had become. Right now I am sitting in front of my students as they take their final exam. What I was whining about yesterday was how tired I was of hearing their whining to me about all of their finals, how unfair the scheduling was, and how they wanted extensions for this and this, and that.
This whole week has represented to me the constant challenge I have of being a "nice" teacher and being a "good" teacher. In my mind these are two completely different things. Even though I want my students to like me, what I want even more is for them to learn and sometimes this requires some tough love. I cannot accommodate every single need of every single needy student and for some reason this particular class at random Architecture Trade School has provided me with a group of 16 needy wannabe architects. Part of the reason for this (I imagine) is because their Studio classes have been presented to them as being so much more important. And since I teach a history survey class, it falls rather low on their priority list. Nonetheless, all commitments in college should be given attention. And while I respect the fact that some classes might be prioritized over others for various reason, if you are to neglect a class, recognize your choice and live with the consequences.
It is very hard for me to feel sorry for the student with a very poor attendance record on the last day of class. The fact that the class is scheduled at 9am (so early!) is not my fault and neither is the fact that it is the day after Lost or Must See TV or Hip Hop night at Downtown Disco. I don't care.
Each time a student comes to ask me for an extension, or another test date, I think to myself how I would never get away with asking for extensions in my own work (and nor would I have when I was an undergrad). More importantly I realize how pathetic they look. It is totally unprofessional, especially when it becomes habitual.
So even if my students end up leaving here not knowing a thing about the history of architecture at least they should learn a lesson about honoring their commitments. And once again (because I always learn something from my students) I have learned how not to act in the face of stress.