Friday, May 2, 2008

You mean we have to take this final without notes?!!?!

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.


myrrh said...

And I'm going to take this opportunity to bitch too! I had a student come to me on Thurs of week 5 (out of a 10 week term) and ask for ALL of the ASSIGNMENTS. Yep, he has not attended class once and he expects me to bend over backwards to help him.

And then when I just asked him to email me so we could communicate that way, he waited until Sunday afternoon to get to me.

Well, I have very little patience for this.

If he passes the class, fine. But there will be no special extensions made for this one.

Stephanie said...

Reading your post made me feel badly about all the lame-o excuses I gave to my professors in college.

Up until this point in my life however, I used to rejoice about the stuff I got away with (and I got away with some STUFF).

So, I say be tough on them. It's a good lesson.

eloise said...

myrrh -- it is nice to hear that i'm not all alone with my feelings here and that you too can relate. have you ever checked out It's nice to go to every once in awhile, it is a community of academics in the throes of teaching who commiserate together.

stephanie - heh. well someone must have turned you down along the way since you have grown up to be a responsible professional. and don't feel bad, i think it is in our job description to deal with whiny undergrads.