Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sometimes it doesn't pay...

...to be a nice teacher. A few examples:

1. I caught a plagiarist who stole a paper from another classmate. He finally admitted to it because he didn't want his friend to take the F. Part of me allowing him back in class was that he receive a zero for the essay but he still had to write his own and submit that by a week ago last Friday. I gave him an extension to Monday, October 17. I still do not have the paper, but he's still coming to class. He's never said a thing to me.

2. I have a student who comes in late all the time, but has only missed 1 day of class. Still, he has not submitted any work. However, because I was asked to help him, I met with him and made the following deal: if he turned in a rough draft of the first essay due the week before, I would be able to make comments on it in class on Wednesday and hand it back to him before class was over (students were working on group projects). He could then turn in the revised essay on Monday (yesterday). If he did so, I would hold the paper till the end of the semester, and if he had turned in everything else on time and kept attending, I would not penalize the paper with late points. He agreed. (Note: I give students at least 2 class periods wherein they can work on essays and conference with me. There is no excuse for not having something to turn in). I still have not seen a draft of this essay. And he's still coming to class.

3. A student asked me the second week of school to transfer into my class. She wasn't working well with the teacher she had, and there was a friend in my class who could help her (she's from another country). So, I made sure she had adequate English skills and agreed (enrollment was still open at this point). Our first major paper was due October 6th in rough draft form. She did not turn anything in. The final version was due October 13th. She brings be a page on the 13th, but in my syllabus I state clearly that I won't accept a final draft without seeing a rough draft first - I want to see the paper being developed. So I wrote some comments and handed it back to her, saying I would take that as her rough draft and she had to turn in the revised paper by October 19th (the last class before Fall Break). She's absent from class, and though school is still in session on Wednesday, she does not contact me at all. Today, she brings me her paper - but only the final (and it's mandatory that they turn in the rough draft with it). Not only that, but the paper is only 1 1/3 pages long and the minimum is 2 pages. Then she wants to know if she's going to get credit for it!

These are just 3 examples of what happens all the time around here. You give students a break, taking time to meet with them, grade late work, etc. Then they don't even follow through on what they have asked you to do for them. This is, by far, the worst part of my job. I don't mind giving students second chances. I believe in it. However, when I go out of my way to be flexible, and they basically spit in my face, then I feel so disheartened. I don't even get angry. I just feel so let down.

It's no wonder some teachers end up bitter and cynical, unwilling to give students any leeway. Too often, rigid teachers are not born - they are made by bad, uncaring students. At this point, every infraction becomes monumental. I was actually considering a separate grade for formatting. Students would receive a 25 point grade for every essay based on formatting alone. Maybe if I make it a significant grade, then I can get them to put their freaking names on their work, a title, page numbers, even type and double space the essays - as I've told them to do on the syllabus and every essay assignment handout I give them.

Okay, enough venting. Think "Orlando knows how to format." "Orlando would turn in essays on time." "Orlando would French kiss me in my office." "Orlando would take me away from this."

I feel much better know.


Bonnie Ferguson said...

(((Kelli))) Teaching is such hard work and is so underappreciated.

Michele said...

That sounds awful , Kelli!
Don't they realize how wonderful you are being to them??..well, it's obvious they are clueless. We'll be your sounding board, help you to keep your sense of humor and your hope that Orlando stumbles on your blog and gives you a call soon.

I think I'm gonna TRY to do something that maybe will give you a smile....stay tuned....
Gosh, I'm pumped about this!!!

Michele said...

It's ready. You simply MUST visit my blog.
I dedicated it to you.
Let me know what you think.

Judson Knight said...

Hey, Kelli. Just so you know, there are plenty of us parents out here who appreciate hard-working teachers. With each of those kids described in your post, I've got to believe that the lousy attitude--especially the desire to get by with the minimum--is coming ultimately from the parents.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I just stopped by Michele's and saw her post about you and Orlando. That was a hoot!


Hugs, Kelli! As a former teacher and current parent, I appreciate all the hard work you and others do. Unfortunately, I know that doesn't make sucky days any less sucky so, in the meantime, enjoy your favorite decadent snack and those Orlando thoughts :)

Kelli McBride said...

Thanks for the pep talk. I just heard from a student, out of the blue, who is going to be back on campus for a semester because of gas costs (he was commuting to another college). He told me that I was one of the two most influential teachers he's had. Since I remember him with lots of fondness - a bright, funny young man very eager to learn - that made me feel wonderful.

I also have to remember all of the wonderful students that I have. It was simply that on one day, I had to deal with a lot of bunk (I didn't mention a 4th student). Sometimes, it's hard to maintain perspective. ;-)

Cody Hunter said...

Even though sometimes it doesn't pay, doesn't it pay more than not. From a students perspective it seems so to me. Doesn't it feel good when you help someone out. I know your work is hard so keep hard at it, but don't change your ways. A lot of teachers wouldn't even take in to consideration some of the things you do. You have helped me out some already and a couple of my friends. They are glad to have you as thier teacher. Some teachers wouldn't care whether they are having a rough week.
Sure some students skip b/c they are hungry or turn in late papers b/c they want to do something else, but somethimes there is really difficult situations.