Saturday, December 31, 2005

Frosty Fran Lights a Fire.

A community college professor in the liberal arts in a cold state sends these along:

"Mr. Smith"
Attention Span: like a puppy
Intelligence: doubtful
Arrogance: Significant

If you want a fight on your hands, make a comment that this student's one-paragraph, 3 page long paper is "poorly written." He'll tell you that the writing is fine; it is just a problem of form.

"Ms. Waterworks"
Ability to comprehend: doubtful
Future career: grocery store clerk
Opinion of herself: way higher than she deserves

Crying seems to work on other people, but not on me. The fact of the matter is that you didn't want to take the late penalty for your paper with the missing golden paragraphs, and you didn't like the grade the paper got without them. Next time I have a couple of suggestions: 1) get your shit together. 2) Don't tell your professor that this paper got an A in your Sociology class.

"Ms. Florida"
Attendance: just enough to stay in the class
Intelligence: my dumb cat is smarter
Judgement: poor

This one wants to leave in the middle of the 75 minute class, and doesn't realize that it is a disruption every time. I'm sure you "had to" go on vacation in Florida with your "family" Thanksgiving week -- which must not include your own SISTER, who is also in my class and was in class that week.

"Mr. ADD"
Attention Span: shorter than any student I've had
Judgement: poor

If you like students who are disruptive and want to watch "Family Guy" DVDs on their computers in class, this one is for you.

Hygiene: poor
Integrity: low
Snarkyness: high Watch out for this one.

He'll cut you down with administration behind your back while smiling at you. He wants to be a politician and if all things are equal, he'll end up a used car salesman. Avoid small-group situations with this one.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Mike From Milwaukee.

Mike, a tenure-track professor at a private college in Milwaukee sends along these suggestions:

You can call me Mike. I'm five years into a career and I've been reading this page with real interest for a couple of weeks. It occurs to me that some simple and straight forward thinking might be the key for getting students and faculty on the same team. I confess that I've been cheering on a lot of the posters here. I, too, get frustrated with students, their insolence, their lack of respect, their lack of desire. But, I'm at the start of a long career, and I'd hate to think it will get worse instead of better. So, let me make 3 modest proposals.

  1. Students will take their leads from us. If we coddle them, they will learn to run over us. If we expect little, that's we get. If we try to win their friendship (in lieu of respect), we'll be friendly but not effective. So, whatever it is you want to be, be it. Whatever you really want out of class, lead that way.
  2. Students have short attention spans. There's no use denying it. But, long term learning requires a different sort of approach. If our field interests us, we have to find a way to plug our students into it. Maybe it's more technology. But at the very least it means we have to start each semester strong, impressing upon each student that there is work to be done, that it will be rewarding, and that we will all need to do our share.
  3. Even though I only have a few years in the business, I know that I walk into a new class with ghosts of the old classes haunting me. My own main goal for next semester is to go in fresh. I'm not going to let disappointments from previous students or semesters weigh me down. I'm going to go in with new eyes, with a new heart, and see if I can make it work.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Junior From Jersey.

A junior Business major at a public college in New Jersey sends this along this evening. I think it's a fantastic post, maybe the best one I've received since starting this project. She makes several excellent points, and her statements all bring echoes to me of other students I've had in the past, young men and women who truly don't deserve to be judged so harshly. Her post makes me think a lot about what we're doing here at RYS. Let me know what you think by writing me: rateyourstudents AT hotmail DOT com:

Listen, THE PROFESSOR, if you really want to understand what it's like to have professors like you grade us, rate us, poke us and prod us every day, take a walk in my shoes.

My Bio teacher tells us on every test that there are at least 2 right answers for every question, and that one is "better." Does that seem fair to you? Not me either.

My major field advisor is a stinking drunk, and I mean stinking. I can smell his scotch or whatever every time I walk in to his office. I have to smile so he fills out my forms even though he makes me sick to my stomach.

My Psychology professor tries to look up my skirt when I wear one. He hardly even pretends to do it casually. He's a married man, and old enough to be my dad. And because I can't possibly say anything against him - I'll flunk - I have to act like it doesn't bother me. I am physically ill every day before that class, and I'm glad I'll never have to see him again. But I bet there's another one like him waiting for me next semester.

I sleep in a dorm room with a girl who barfs three times a day, and who I can't report because I'm afraid she'll kill herself. I have a suitemate who screws her boyfriend after dorm hours and I can't say anything about that because her dad gave the college a ton of money and I don't need to be any more of an outsider than I am.

I can only schedule classes at weird times because of the incredibly clogged network. So on MWF I have a class at 8 am, noon, and 4 pm. How am I supposed to get a work schedule at the Kohl's if I can't get away from campus for a few hours in a row. Yes, I pay for a lot of my school myself, and I have to work in order to come here.

So, while you're all getting your jollies picking on students, please realize we're not all the same, and not all of us deserve your scorn.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Mini Manifesto From Maine.

A tenured professor in the arts at a public college in Maine sends this along:

Okay, if we're going to be all feel-goody for next year, here are some rules I want the students to play by:

If I ask you to read a book, or go to a gallery, or watch a video, I really mean it. It's not just some random thought I've had. My assignments are designed to raise your level of knowledge. If I assign it, it's a real thing. It's not just being all ‘teacherly.’

When someone else is talking in class, addressing class - even if it's me - that means you are to shut your pie hole and listen in. When I ask you a question, I'm asking a serious question, one that has to do with your ability to pass the class. It's not optional. It's not as if I said, ‘Uh, Marcella, if you don't want to I'll understand, but would you care to tell me what you know about cubism?’ I mean, ‘Tell me what you know about cubism from my handouts, the textbook, the film I showed, and the gallery we walked through for 2 hours last week.

Your life in this class hangs in the balance.’ I think my field, my class, and my life work is important. When you make fun of it, or tell me that you just took this class for fun because it's so much easier than your major, it makes me think you're an idiot. And that's not really what you want out of this relationship.”

Our classes end at 50 or 30 minutes past the hour, depending on the class and the day. I can keep you in your desks until that time if I choose. When it's 9:45, and you're hungry, or Mitch is waiting at the Commons, I really don't want to hear you start shuffling around and slamming stuff into your bookbag. If I cheated you out of 30 seconds on a test, you'd likely call the Dean's office.

I won't know your final grade for the semester until nearly the end of the semester. Your grade up until that point - you should imagine - is an F. You have to WORK to earn a grade. You have NOTHING at the beginning, and you have you do work in here to EARN points and EARN a grade. If you ask me in week three what your grade is, it's going to be an F. It'll be an F until about the 13th week. There's no way in the world I'm going to GUESS a grade for you so that you can relax and concentrate on Economics or something.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Professor Signals For a Fair Catch.

A tenured professor at a college in Alabama sends this:

In my office today were three junior football players, all recent flunkies of my freshman level course.

Because of these Fs, all three are facing eligibility problems. (I go to 2-3 games each year, and have nothing against athletes.) They all face these eligibility issues because they only register for 12 hours a semester, and with my F, they now are below the athletic cutoff. This is supposed to be my problem.

In the 2 1/2 years they've each been on campus, they have a total of 60 hours each. They are a hair under halfway through a degree, and not even on target to finish in 5 years. Of course, that's impolitic for me to point out, but nevertheless they were in my office exactly 30 seconds afer the athletic advisor called me to tell me they HAD to pass; it wasn't something that the program or the athletes could accept.

#1 ended up with a 44 average. D is a 60, C is a 70. #2 had a 50. And #3 had a 15. Student #3 was a mystery to me when he walked in, as my records show he attended 5 of my 30 meetings, each time appearing on a quiz day and scoring the occasional right answer.

Where, oh where, am I supposed to find the extra points? Where am I supposed to draw the line?

Friday, December 9, 2005

Wisconsin Lowers the Boom.

An English instructor from Wisconsin sends in our rating of the week!

I thought that, like a partner in an arranged marriage, I could learn to like, or at least tolerate, a well-paid, secure, unionized teaching position with excellent benefits. But no, not here. At the Wisconsin college where I teach, the collective density of our students creates an intellectual black hole where anything resembling brains is sucked away through a rip in space-time. By summer, I feel dumber. And to those who’ve contributed to my malaise (since I got a late start, some past transgressors included):

To E:
As an English teacher, I’m not sure of the precise clinical term. You’re nutso. Barmy, daft, dotty, bats, loony, loopy, spooky-crazy, crackers, or bananas. Take your pick. If caught with you in my class again, I would chew my leg off to escape.
Density: Uranium.
Hotness: -20 (you could scare the maggots off a gut-wagon).
Your opinion of your abilities: 3 (to write a novel, you should first read one).

To N:
An objective test where the class average was 82 and you scored 63 doesn’t evince racism. Your choice, after numerous examples of introductory techniques and discussion of these, to begin your speech “Mines is on alcohol” was truly doltish.
Density: 5 fence posts.
Hotness: 0.
Your opinion of your abilities: 5

To M:
The C+ you received on your essays was a gift. You’ve attended only half the classes, haven’t cracked a book at all, don’t follow the guidelines for the assignment, and are as familiar with an English sentence as you are with the insides of your own kidneys.
Density: 4 fence posts.
Hotness: 2.
Your opinion of your abilities: 5.

To G:
My pity. I truly doubt that you could read this. In fact, I truly doubt that you have opposable thumbs.
Density: Off-scale; skull has its own gravitational field.
Hotness: -2.
Your opinion of your abilities: 1.

To B:
You dispel the notion that a radio personality must have an actual personality. Well, maybe, if asshole is a personality . . . I lied when I told you it was okay to repeat my class after you flunked it the first time. Who would actually do that?
Density: 2.
Hotness: 2
Your opinion of yourself: Off-scale.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

In a Hurry In Indiana.

A non-tenure-track instructor in Business from a medium sized regional university in Indiana fires off this quickie:

Huzzah, Professor.
You are doing the right thing. My last minute ratings for Fall 05 are as follows.

H: Think Gumby. Be flexible. Don't get tied up in what your high school rules were.

M: Turn off the waterworks in the professor's office. Nobody believes it.

T: Tolerance for other people. Try that new fangled attitude and you'll be better off.

O: You go, girl. But shut up when someone else is talking. Love the attitude. But small doses go a long way.

P: Help yourself by opening a textbook when you take this class next semester. Didn't think so, right? Well, it is what it is.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Wacky in Wichita.

A full time professor at a college in Wichita sends this along:

Dear Kiddies,

Here come my Christmas presents.

Wild Wendy, here's a bra that fits. Timid Terry, here's a heart - don't be afraid to use it, or at least show it. Thick Tommy, look, over there, it's a rainbow! Or maybe it's a unicorn. Go sketch it and leave the work to the rest of us Mean Miranda, here's a lump of coal. Mean Mitch, here's one for you, too, but this one has a jagged edge I hope you snag your finger on. Randy Randy, tell your girlfriend to not only write your essays, but also to answer in class for you next semester; it's your only hope. Meek Melanie, here's a dose of courage. Drink deep and trust yourself from now on. Mild Michael, a little courage for you, too. You're worthy and you deserve to take a stand for what you believe in. Arrogant Archie, here are the keys to a brand new Cadillac, just like your dad's. Who needs college?

Merry Christmas,
Your Old Professor Pal

(who is now eager to eggnog it all the way to 2006)

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Something from Santa Fe.

A community college instructor from Santa Fe sends this along:

Hotness: 0
Intelligence: 0
Ability to Depress: 10
You are too dumb to walk upright.

Hotness: 11
Intelligence: 5
Ability to Depress: 0
You should immediately go to the registrar's office and sign up for my 201 class next semester. We're going to continue studying the human form. Sure, this is a Business class, but at least *I* will continue to study the human form.

Hotness: 4
Intelligence: 9
Ability to Depress: 10
Why won't you just tell those friends of yours to get lost. If they don't want you to go to college, then how can you think they're really watching your back? You're a smart kid, too smart to stay in the life your friends seem to be stuck in. Keep striving. Keep working. This place is working for you, and the benefits are going to be lifelong!

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Texas Gets Into It.

A tenured faculty member in Art at a large state university in Texas says:

At the end of the semester, the devilish students finally get the stones to come to the office, beg for forgiveness, ask for extra credit. I say a pox on all of them. Don't you read the syllabus? Don't you listen in class? Don't you read the daily bulletin board I send around electronically? Why do you assume that I'll hold your hand in the waning moments of the semester just because you're too damaged from TV, sugar, and glue?

It may be impolitic to say these things, but students today are too entitled and too precious. I've seen colleagues roll over and take it up the ass from these awful, demented, and lazy students for too long. Don't do the work? Pay the price.

See you next semester, kiddies.