Originally Posted: 2004-09-10 10:15pm
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favorite this post Things I'd like to tell students that would probably get me fired. hide this posting unhide

You’re not nearly as cool as you think. Class clowns were funny in high school, but not now.

If you miss class, don’t ask me if anything important happened. Lecture happened. If you didn’t want to go – your money, your grade. What do you expect anyways? That I’m going to answer, “Yes, actually, on the one day you missed I decided to give a pop quiz that counts for 50% of your grade. Oh yeah, and then we discussed the answers to the final and then I gave everybody cookies. Too bad you missed it.”

I don’t really like it when I see you guys in the bathroom. I’m always afraid I’ll fart or something, and then it’ll be around the department and I’ll get some lame nickname like Dr. Farts. On a similar topic, how do you know when I fart in my office? Invariably, there’s a knock on my door immediately afterwards, and I have to answer it while trying to position my body for maximal obstruction of air. And, it’s kind of a catch 22. It’s not like I can go to the bathroom and fart, because of the above issue.

I’m a better liar than you. It’s because I’m really smart. When I was an undergrad, I got out of all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons. Deaths in the family, tears on command, cars breaking down, feigning symptoms of depression, you name it, I used it. I know when you’re trying to bullshit me. Don’t try. And while I’m very sympathetic if it’s legitimate, I’m a bitch if you lie to me.

I’m also a good writer. And the thing is, good writers notice writing style. If you try to plagiarize, I will be able to tell. And, I will give you hell for it and I will report you and you will be sorry because I will make you re-write the paper and take an ethics course to boot.

I’m not actually all that good at keeping my mouth shut. Please don’t tell the other faculty what I say, unless it’s good and about them; or it’s something you learned that you thought was really neat that also does not clash with their theoretical viewpoint, because they’re sensitive about that.

Please don’t get offended by my jokes. See, they’re funny, only, as it turns out, not to conservative Christians, most Republicans, and ultra feminists.

If I’m late for a meeting and rushing out of my office, or if I’m trying to eat lunch in between classes, or if I’m out with friends on a Friday night, I might not be all that keen to answer questions about the upcoming midterm. I might be grouchy. Just so you know.

This here’s for the boys. If you’re flunking my class, don’t make sly little suggestions about what you might to do earn an A. You’re flunking my class. Why would I think your performance would be better in any other areas?

Incompletes are for students who, for legitimate, documented reasons, couldn't finish the class. If you don't like your grade, you can't take an incomplete.

I will do my best to give the first midterm before the drop deadline, and all other midterms before rather than after holidays.

If you take the midterm and do badly, and then don't drop the class, and then come back 3 months later and try to play it like you were never in my class and you want me to sign a petition, I won't. If you ask me to sign the petition before the drop deadline, I will happily. If the administration gives you shit about it, I'll cause a ruckus.

If I see you out on the town on a weekend night and you want to buy me a drink, you can’t currently be in my classes or ever take any of my classes again. Ever. Then maybe you can buy me a drink. Allright probably. Okay.

If you’re out on the town drunk and want to yell at me about your grade, then please don’t ever take any of my classes again.

If I set up extra office hours to tutor you, and you don’t show up, I will secretly hate you. Also, I will refuse to set up any other office hours outside of regularly scheduled ones. Oh, and any subsequent emails from me will be cryptic and I’ll wait an extra day to respond.

Just because I seem cool doesn’t mean my tests are easy. I tell you all the first day the classes are hard. Here, I am not lying. Believe me.

Reading all the material and going to class does not guarantee you an A unless you’re super-duper smart. You actually have to study too.

At the beginning of the term, when I say, “I won’t hand you a grade, but I’ll help you work to get the grade you want,” that doesn’t mean that if you flunked all the midterms and you show up the day before the final I can do anything other than feel bad and tell you to get a good night’s sleep.

When you tell me, “I’m getting kicked out of college because of the grade I got in your class,” this makes me feel bad, but it also makes me wonder if this is the first bad grade you’ve gotten in college, and what kind of slave driver is supporting you that would cut you off for one bad grade.

When you come to office hours week after week because you’re worried about your grade, and you use all the study suggestions that I tell you to, and I really honestly believe that you’re trying hard but you’re still getting a bad grade, I will wish I had the guts to gently tell you that not everyone is meant for college, but I won’t. I will feel bad instead and continue to tutor you.

When you ask a stupid question in class I will not repeat the most horrible thing I ever did to a student the first year I was teaching, which was to laugh at a question. However, I do reserve the right to later tell my friends and to laugh then. Sorry, but sometimes I just have to. Your name and any identifying information will not be used.

Please ask all the questions you want to in class. Really. I learn from my mistakes. If I see anyone so much as roll an eye, I will pull them aside after class and tell them that’s inappropriate.

I’m kind of a talker. I like to tell stories. Please, if you figure this out, do not use it to postpone lecture, and hence, the amount of material you will be responsible for.

Please vote. And when you do, consider what cuts in educational funding do to your tuition. They are not unrelated.

If you work for me on a project, and you do a good job, I will write you a kick-ass letter of recommendation. If you work for me and do a lousy job, I will writer a letter that, while not direct, will let the program you are applying for know what kind of a student you are, and I will show you this letter before I send it because I will feel guilty. Remember that things like, “She was often on time,” or, “From my conversations with him, it is clear that he very much wants to go to graduate school,” are not really compliments.

And, please, if you like my class, if you feel that it changed the way you think, if you learned a lot, if you were challenged, please tell me. In this age of limited resources and time, that’s what keeps me going. I love teaching, and I’m clearly not in it for the money. All this above is just my bitch-session to get it out of my system before school starts. Almost always, I only hear from people who are angry at me. Tell me if you got something out of my class. I really really need it sometimes.

Actually, the last item goes for all your teachers.



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