Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Jerks

I've been a little leary of getting into specifics about students. I'm not going to now, either, but I just wanted to preface my bitchfest today with a little disclaimer that I'm not trying to get dooced or anything. i'm not going to talk about students, but focus more on my own experience in the classroom. I just wanted to set up my philosophy about writing about school, mainly so that you realize that I know there are other people in my classroom than just me. I'm not being self-centered, I'm protecting my ass :)

So, yes, Augustus went well. I had some makeup exams to give, so I did that, and then accompanied my sister Santa shopping for her son. That was so fun!

When I got home, I had some emails in my inbox. Some were ones that I'd been expecting- one student I've been working with closely, she's had a rough semester. Another student explaining why he hadn't been in class today.

And then.

The jerky requests for extensions on their semester-long projects. Not only are they asking 2 days before it's due, they are not asking in very nice ways. Well, some of them are, some aren't.

This is what I told them, and please weigh in with your opinions. I basically told them that it was up to them to turn their projects in. If they gave me a paper on Monday rather than the due date of Friday, I'd have to penalize them (minimally) for professionalism.

In truth, I don't care if they give me their papers on Monday. I'm not even going to look at them until the Final final pres next Friday. But? A deadline is a deadline. They've known about this since the beginning of the semester, ya know? And, since I'll be teaching at this school again in the spring, I'm being extra careful not to get a reputation as an easy teacher.

Wait, easy is probably not the word I'm looking for. Push-over? But anyway, the jerkiest email pointed out that I'd allowed a small group of students to take the exam a day later. I had done that, yes. But these guys asked me, in person, adult-to-adult. I obliged. And I'll tell ya, that exam was harder- not only in content, but in the fact that I had to have them take it in the library. Distractions and crappy photocopied images instead of dead quiet and a lovely powerpoint pres by yours truly.

So, how did I do, readers? Am I still too soft? A big ole bitch? i'll be hearing about it sooner or later, they do fill out course evals, after all.

8 comments:

Frema said...

I don't think you were too soft at all. Some situations allow for extensions, and some don't. I don't think any e-mail or phone requests meet the criteria. It should be done face-to-face, absolutely.

Vicki said...

I agree, you handled it well. If they're asking for an extension this late in the semester, odds are good they haven't even started it yet and the quality of the kind of project they could throw together in a weekend are significantly less than had they dedicated the time and effort throughout the course.

Ultimately, it's not fair to the other students to allow them a few extra days without penalization, especially if they can't be bothered to talk to you in person. God knows, if I could have extra time on my projects I'd do a much better job across the board, but as you've said, a deadline is a deadline. They might as well learn that lesson now rather than in, say, grad school, as some of my peers are just now realizing.

Kate C. said...

I also think you handled it well. I've become much stricter about deadlines, for a few reasons. One, in the "real world" your employers expect you to turn in your work on time, so it is good to get used to it. Also, it is not fair to the students who actually planned out their semester and got the work done. Finally it is an inconvience to you as the teacher, even if you are not grading until later. You need to keep track of whose paper is not in, make the late papers get put with the ones on-time, etc. Small things, but work for you.

ANDREW M. said...

great post title. jerks really irk me something awful...

Anonymous said...

I think you did well. Just yesterday a professor was telling me about a similar situation. She said to the whole class, "Class, there are a few students who are asking for extensions. Typically, since make-up exams are more difficult than standard exams, I also make projects with "extensions" more difficult. All right then. Who thinks they should get the extension? (She said no one raised a hand - clearly the extension-askers were too cowardly to admit their presence) Okay, and who thinks that if they get the extension, they must write 3 additional pages, add 5 peer-reviewed journal citations (choose your poison) for the sake of fairness to all of you who did meet the deadline?" (Almost all students raised their hands.) Then, if you DO give them the extension, withOUT the extra work, you look like a saint. Anyway, this prof said the students in question chose to turn their work in on time.

Oh? And also? You say, "I do NOT discuss other students' circumstances due to FERPA regulations." What Timmy or Tina got to do does not play into your decision at all. I don't like these jerky students who are all, "But Mo-om! Suzy got to have an extra scoop of ice cream!" Grow up already.

Rachael said...

I think that was an excellent response. I'm a student myself, and it drives me nuts when my teachers give last minute extensions, unless there's major extenuating (did I spell that right?) circumstances. A death in the family, hospitalization...

Anonymous said...

Amen, Rachael.

I'm a student as well, and I'm in an upper level Art History class this semester with a bunch of slackers! We are two weeks in to mandatory presentations tied to out semester-long papers. Mine was last week and out of 9 students who have been scheduled to present, only 5 of us have! The teacher has graciously agreed to extensions for those who have asked, but I've had her before and it warms the cockles of my heart to know that she will indeed be docking their grades as she clearly stated in the syllabus. I lurve her!

Anonymous said...

GIRL! You're big time - you've been linked to in Inside Higher Ed!!