Sunday, May 11, 2008

"We Reach For Summer." Caitlin from Cucamonga Helps Us Cope.

On another blog I follow, the college administrator group is whining about how they stay sane during the last stretch where they listen to complaints that student x cheated and instructor x hates me. To counter their quaint coping mechanisms - "I smile a lot" - let's talk about how we deal with it in the trenches where student x cheated on our papers and student x thinks I/we hate him/her...and we do.

  • We Use Some Normal Coping Strategies. We do the typical things, like keep food on the snack table, walk around to break the tension from grading, and check our personal e-mail to stay in touch with the outside world. This way if anyone walks by, they think we're still sane.

  • Music. Yesterday the music started to leak into the hall. My neighbor takes on a mixture of country and 80s disco style music. I, on the other hand, am into a subtle exchange of Joan Osborne kd lang and Deep Purple. The music department fills the next two offices and they actually play opera. I don't know what the other two in my stretch of the hall are into because they're plugged in -- that's right, the dreaded ear buds we've been banning in our classes all semester. By late afternoon yesterday, I had kd lang's Hallelujah blaring, followed by Osborne's Let's Get Naked while my friend next door was trying to out rock me with Chicken Train.

  • Screaming. Every so often someone screams. Mostly there are words "I'm Not Having Any Fun" to "What Part of No Wikipedia Do They Not Understand" to "Cheating Bastards Don't Know How to Do Anything But Plagarize." Yes, occasionally it is unprintable. It can also be groans and moans. The most famous is "They Learned Nothing" followed by "Dibs on the Wal-mart Job" because we start feeling like if this is the result of all our effort, we'd be better off abandoning this underpaid marathon to stand in the doorway and hand out carts. Welcome to Wal-mart.

  • Mocking Student Papers. Many of us are grading final exams and we want to share the pain. Hence, we mock the little darlings every chance we get. Hitler is related to Saddam and together they killed the Jews. Geography is like Music because they both deal with location. Without learning, I would not have cum this far. Citation: Moses, et al. The Bible. It goes on and on. We struggle to top each other, willing to dredge up even the most legendary of years past. And then...we laugh. We roflol.

  • Pledge to be Heartless Next Time Around. Every point we've ever given a student comes back to haunt us. Those few extra "maybe he'll try harder if I cut him a little slack so he can see some success" have only put Sammy Screw-up that much closer to the points needed and now he's within 2 or 3 points of passing when it should be 50. Can you help me becomes almost reasonable. It actually seems unfair to fail a student who is within two points - I mean he attended every class. We vow to have "NO" tattooed on our forearms. We swear we'll never take another late paper. We promise to start being draconian from day one.

  • We Fail Their Asses. It is the best of times and the worst of times. We feel defeated as we mark the dreaded D/F on the roster. At times, we feel a little bit of happy. Truth be told, there is almost always something we could do to fix a broken grade...but we don't. Everything we ever do to help a student comes back to bite us in the ass - so better their ass than ours.

  • We Reach For Summer. The only thing that keeps any of us in this madhatter race is knowing that summer is coming and we have a break. Even those of us teaching this summer have a couple of weeks off. Summer students at our location are typically better students. They actually want to be there or they're coming off embarrassing failure and really put out some effort. Summer is a Win-Win no matter how you look at it. At the end of the semester, win-win is what we want and we don't care who we have to step over to get there.