Monday, October 5, 2009
Dear freshmen (and under-achieving upper-classmen):
I feel your pain. Only last year I was a wee snowflake myself, until I made the mistake of a lifetime and decided that I LURVE teaching and research, and started grad school. I don't want to TA this intro history course any more than you want to take it. I don't want to get out of bed to lead your half-awake, hungover, uninterested asses in discussion section this early in the morning either. My ass is tired and hungover too, especially after wading knee deep in the shit you call papers last night with some alcoholic fortification. I wish you would all come to my office hours, if only because getting the swine flu from your diseased undergrad breath would get me out of my tiny, dark, windowless cinder block basement office for a couple of days.
Super-keener Katie: There's this thing called a syllabus, and we have to follow it. I didn't write it. I can't change it. I would love to talk about witches, or the American Southwest, or Russians in Alaska instead of New England religion and demographics every single day, but I can't. Maybe one day when I grow up and become a real proffie I can wave my magic grading pen and make the syllabus interesting, but for now I do what the real proffie wants, when she wants, and I only ask how high she wants me to jump.
Eye-rolling Eric: Yes, I see you. Yes, I agree your classmates are idiots. I don't want to ask the same question three times in a row, or hint at what page the answer is on, but if someone would just do the damn reading and ANSWER, we could actually talk about real things in section. If you think the answer is so obvious, why don't you answer?
Shy Shirley: I wish you would talk more in section. You laugh at my jokes and your papers are brilliant. That one time you talked in section made my week. Hoping that you'll say something is what keeps me flailing through my list of questions in the face of eye rolling and nose picking blank stares.
Jeff the Jerk: Why are you even in this class? Your three years of beer pong and toga parties have obviously made you overqualified for my lowly discussion section. If you spent as much time on your 3 page paper as you did questioning my competence in section or the professor's paper deadlines, you might get something better than the D you came bitching to me about. Unluckily for you, the prof feels the same way about the grade I gave you as she feels about the syllabus: it ain't gonna change.
Back-stabbing Britney, Brian and Brandon: I don't really expect any loyalty, I just couldn't think of better names for you. The real proffie has me and the other TA, Nice Nancy, switch sections every few weeks "to get to know all the students and experience many different classroom settings" (proffie-speak translation: to make sure that my TA schedule conflicts with as much of my real-life schedule as possible, as often as possible). So I don't really expect you snowflakes to only come to me with questions, but not once did you or anyone else in your section EVER come to my office hours. And now that Nice Nancy is teaching your section, I see you lined up out the door of her office everytime she has office hours. What is it? What does she do that I don't do? Does she give you cookies? Take you on magical unicorn rides of learning? Oh wait, I know what she does: she reads every damn one of your one-page response papers before you have to turn them in and tells you exactly what to write in order to get an A from her. I'm so sorry I neglected you so badly and expected you to do the damn homework without being spoon fed the answers.