The Waiting Room

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I am "That" Professor

Posted by Seeking Solace |

The online class is giving me fits. Husband says that I need to stop letting them live rent free in my brain. He's right, of course, but it's hard for me not to think about it. 

We are in the homestretch of the semester and I am bombarded with the "Please tell what I can do to raise my grade" emails. Yesterday, in my weekly email update to the class, I let them know how disappointed I was because only 1/4 of the class submitted a bibliography. The kicker was that they received points for just submitting the assignment, even if there are errors. This gives them a chance to make the corrections without penalty. I let them know that 3/4 of them were now 15 points in the hole and it would be mathematically impossible for them to earn an "A" on the final paper. That's when the emails flooded in, begging for a second chance. The best one was from a student who claims she didn't "see" the assignment, despite the fact that the assignment was on her course homepage since the middle of February and I had sent emails weekly to remind the class about the assignments and some links to help them do it.

 *slowly banging my head on the table*

Where was this sense of urgency when I emailed each student at midterm with my comments regarding their midterm grade? Or earlier, when I emailed them wondering why they have not submitted their work? 

Some of them, to their credit, have contacted me in advance regarding personal issues and II am working with them. But, that's four students. The others have no excuse. There is only one thing to do.

I have to be "that" professor. Meaning, I have to be the one who doesn't cave and let them make up the work. I have to be a dick.

It's stated clearly in my syllabus what my policies are. I do not accept late work unless the student comes to me in advance, if possible because some things you just can't anticipate in advance, and the student suggests how the situation can be resolved. For those other situations, they need to have some kind of proof. Otherwise, it sucks to to them. I constantly tell them that I will work with them, but it is up to them to reach out for help.

I wish I didn't get so angry about these situations. I wish I could just be aloof and act like I don't care. Embrace my inner Dr. House, if you will. Truth is, I do care. I want my students to be successful and reach their goals. And, I do what I can to help them. But, I can't help them if they don't meet me halfway. I have to be the one who says "You are responsible for your circumstances."

I have to be "that" professor.


Pleiades Digital History sandbox said...

Hey, I'm that one too! My way of dealing with 'I didn't see it!' comments is to tell them that this is university, and that they have to live with their choices. I might advise against that choice, but ultimately they made that choice. While it doesn't convince them, it does help me cope with the problems.

Amateur Gamer said...

For them to be successful and reach their goals in life they have to get consequences from people willing to be "that" professor. Of course you care and sticking to your policies my make them unsuccessful in your class (and even in their short-term educational goals) but caving would do them a disservice in the long run.

Seeking Solace said...

Thanks to the both of you. I needed that reassurance and the reminder.