Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Head-Nodders, Laptop Kids, Winter Flip Floppers, and Some Nefarious Wannabe Gangsters. Where Is that Walmart Application?

  • Oh, it's so easy to pick them out. I can't even begin on the cell phones, the enormous cups of coffee, etc. But I've got a classroom full of pen clickers right now. Seriously. They are clicking and clacking like they're autistic. I'm developing a twitch in my eye. At least I think it's their pens that are clicking? Could it be something else? Oh my God! WHAT IS MAKING THAT SOUND?!?!?

  • I hate the laptop kids. In classes of less than twenty-five they are particularly conspicuous. It is intensely distracting to the educational experience to divide time between the lecture and Suzie Snowflake's most recently uploaded Facebook photos.

  • This morning, three weeks into the semester, I had a meeting with the dean of student affairs, the head of two other departments and a student. The student's complaint: "I don't think my professors like me." I hate this student and, well, I now dislike the dean, too. Why is "my professors don't like me" a dean+heads+departmental advisors level problem?

  • Is it Spring Break yet? One of my snowflakes seems to think so. Granted, I understand that she did not realize when she signed up for a metalworking class that she would be getting dirty. What is all this technical information? Melting points and malleability blow her mind. Fair enough. What really makes Precious Petunia mad, though, is the lab's dress code. No open toed shoes. She's been thrown out twice this week for wearing flip flops, and it's not even warm yet. Part of me wants to let her wear them, work in them, and sever off one of those pretty pedicured toes with a dropped tool. Wouldn't that be a trophy? Floating in a jar of formaldehyde for all the newbies to see next semester. I know it sounds morbid, but can't you just see their faces watching it bob up and down in perfect silence? That would be perfect.

  • I hate this phone message: “Hi, I see there is a quiz on Tuesday. I wasn’t in class last Thursday so I was wondering if you could give me a call or email me so I can know what’s going to be on the quiz.” It would take an hour to unpack all the presumptions in that brief message, but the only possible response is, “Uh, no, I won’t be giving you a call or dropping you an email. As it happens, I didn’t say much about the quiz on Thursday because I assumed students were able to read the syllabus for the description of the quizzes and to use their powers of inference to figure out that the quiz would cover, you know, stuff we’ve read and talked about in class."

  • The one I hate was my student last semester. Her completely half-baked paper earned her a C+ in the class. I knew as I clicked that option on my grading page that there would be hell to pay. There was. She emailed me the first week of class to meet, but then remembered that she had practice at our scheduled time. So I emailed her other times to come to my office. She never showed, never wrote. I checked back a week later to see if she still wanted to meet and she emailed me the entire sob story about how she deserved a higher grade because she was in class every day (attendance was not part of the grade calculation, the final paper was a major part of it) and how she'd come to my office the next day to discuss it. Guess who never showed? It's not fair that some students come back to haunt you. Finals should be the end!

  • The brunt of my hatred is currently directed at you--the wannabe gangster who just told me that you will be giving an oral presentation on building a meth lab. Really, you don't impress me. I don't find you funny. I don't find you threatening. I don't find you "hardcore." And I don't take your blatant disregard for my class as anything other than what it is: laziness. If I had to guess, I'd say most drug lords--true drug lords--wouldn't normally advertise the specifics of their franchises to an audience of twenty, in a room close to the campus police. Really, I don't want to have to call the police on you after you give your presentation next week, but I will if I have to. Even if I don't think that you know the difference between Skittles and Sudafed, I'll still call the cops on you because that will be funny. You? Not funny. Your arrest (and removal from my class)? Hilarious.

  • To my PIA (pain in ass), I sent your assignment back because it was poorly written and you did not cite your sources. Your response was not to redo the assignment but instead to tell me that you would be sure to cite your sources on the next assignment because you thought you had it down. Oh, excuse me! I was not aware that you “had it down.” Should I take your word for it and not lower your grade? Perhaps I should check with you on what else you know so I don’t have to go through the effort of grading you on these items. After all I would not want you to have to strain yourself and show me your academic muscles.

  • They say doctors make the worst patients. I think teachers make some of the worst students. When I find out one of my students is or has been a teacher, I cringe. And they're usually more than willing to self-identify: "Well, from my own experience as a teacher, I know that [insert criticism of teaching method, syllabus policy, etc.]" Uh, thanks for the tip. I'll keep that in mind the next time I come into your class and tell you how to teach. Until then, this is my room, my policies have evolved this way over the course of a decade, for reasons of policy, tradition and practicality concerning which you are utterly ignorant, and you can suck it up and follow the rules like everyone else.

  • I have a student who hasn't attended ONE session yet. First, his plane back to school was delayed. Then he was so sick but hadn't yet visited campus health. Then he had pink eye. Then his sister got sick and he had to take her to the hospital and she just got released. Excuse after excuse after excuse. And here I was just hoping that he hadn't shown - yet again - because he'd dropped the class. No, of course not. Life's never that kind.

  • Dexter Dipwad? I totally hate him. He announced on the first day of class that he was the "Most Important Student on Campus" and that the outstanding warrants for his arrest -- which, he warned me, might result in him being arrested in class at any moment -- wouldn't so much inconvenience HIM as reflect badly on the SCHOOL. Mr. "Most Important Student on Campus" sits there nodding encouragingly while I lecture with that, "Go on, you're doing great!" attitude where he acts like what I'm lecturing is EXACTLY in accordance with what HE'd say on the same topic. He's all earnest and super-hard-working but I already dread the class.

  • Wait, I have to pick out just one? That's not easy. I have two in the morning class who are on some kind of bad medicine that makes them write down innocuous asides I make - "Hmmm, the rain is really coming down," - but that somehow stops them from jotting down something like, "Your assignment for next week includes." Even though neither has entered the discussion yet, they come up after class and tell me that they want to be college professors some day. One says he thinks the hours are "neat," and the other says he likes the idea of "ten-year." They each got 3 out of 10 on the first quiz. They left smiling. Drunk, maybe? Do you think?