Potpourri of ventage.

Okay, so it’s, like, Week 4 of semester. Here are some things that are happening.

This guy comes to my class and spends the first 5 minutes ostentatiously unwrapping his textbook from the shrinkwrap it comes in at the bookstore. Then he picks the wrong volume, despite the kind attempts of the student sitting opposite him to show him that he’s looking at the wrong book. A couple days later he comes to see me about the essay that is due the following day. I mention that I couldn’t help but notice he hasn’t done any reading, and it is WEEK FOUR, and maybe he’s fallen a bit behind. Well, he’s busy with work, donchaknow. I suggest that maybe he cut his losses and drop, but he’s not willing to do that yet. He thinks he can catch up. Can I help him with his essay? Oh, sure, what the hell. What is he writing it on? He doesn’t know. He hasn’t done any reading. So, he wanders off, I bang my head on the desk, and then he fails to come to the next class, and doesn’t, therefore, hand in a paper.

The majority of students in my online class continue to suck the balls of the donkey. It’s WEEK FOUR, and one of them wanders up to me in class and lets me know he still hasn’t figured out how to log in to the courseware.

I make a tutorial that consists of a flickr slideshow of screenshots with writing on them (and you know my paint skills are top notch) to help the students who are having trouble with the courseware. I offer bonus marks for students who comment on the tutorial. There are at least a dozen students who don’t watch the tutorial, and who still need help with the courseware. I suggest that they watch the tutorial, but they can’t figure out how. Seriously. Clicking a link is WAY TOO TECHNICAL for these people.

I get tricked into sharing my tutorial with one of those slug-like beings from academic support  about whom I complained earlier. His response is to ask me how I made the screenshots, to which I reply, “by taking screenshots and writing on them using GIMP.” He responds by linking me to a program that can do what I already did. I CAN ALREADY DO IT. I DO NOT NEED YOUR PROGRAM. When I express this sentiment, he suggests that we meet to discuss it. I am tempted accept the invitation and meet with him carrying some kind of sharp implement, but manage to restrain myself.

I have a student who is worried she is failing and can I tell her her grade. It’s WEEK FOUR. Your first assignment isn’t even due until tomorrow. There is no grade yet.

I have a student who has been mad at me ever since she told me she was missing the first 2 weeks of class and I said that I thought that was a bad idea. She sends me emails complaining that I don’t do things like her other teachers do, and that she continues to be unhappy with my attitude and behaviour. I have offended her at least 3 times, apparently. Once by saying I think attendance is important; once because I didn’t comply with her request that I “stay after class to discuss my attitude and behaviour”; most recently because when I clarified for the whole class my expectations on participation, she got into an argument with me over email about whether a week from Thursday to Thursday includes a weekend. (Apparently, it doesn’t, and I am foolish to persist in my belief that it does.)

I have a student who wants to write her essay on internet crime, and stuff. I suggest that she needs to narrow her topic down, since “internet crime” is a bit too broad, and she writes back: “I just want to look at child porn.” I laugh for 3 days.

10 thoughts on “Potpourri of ventage.

  1. Seqkat

    “I have a student who is worried she is failing and can I tell her her grade. It’s WEEK FOUR. Your first assignment isn’t even due until tomorrow. There is no grade yet.”

    I know this is rather a strange response – but by Week Four (I am in week zero, currently) I will have submitted eight pieces of work. They will normally consist of seven 3000-5000 word essays (aiming at the 5000 each time), and one set of three commentaries of various set texts. If I am really lucky it will be six essays and two sets of commentaries. If I think I am failing by week four, I should probably drop out – it’s probably true, and it’s too late to fix it.

    So this just struck me as funny.

  2. Alison

    All my profs are taking attendance this year, they all have their own policies, but they’re all doing it. This is new. I think it’s fair. I also think I’m going to lose marks.

  3. V's Herbie

    I really don’t understand taking attendance in college. I mean, either they learn the material or they don’t. If they are going to sit there like a lump and stare at the middle distance I’d rather they stay home.

    hmmm reading/writing for college misery lately has increased my snark level.

    1. whatladder Post author

      I don’t care if the come to class, until they start bitching about how they are doing badly.

      If you are going to email me to “ask” if it is okay if you miss 3 weeks, don’t get all butthurt when I say “no, it is not okay”.

  4. Selene

    OMG I love your blog. I was teaching out here at a University in sunny Brisvegas a few years ago, and your posts like this one don’t make me miss it one bit! (Well, maybe a tad, the snark is somehow invigorating). Good luck with the semester! 😀

  5. Dawn

    She wants you to “stay after class to discuss my attitude and behaviour”. YOUR attitude and behaviour? SHE wants to take YOU to task for YOUR attitude and behaviour? I know it’s been a while since I was at university, but isn’t that just a bit backwards?

    How do you keep from laughing right in their faces?

  6. laceyfish

    “The majority of students in my online class continue to suck the balls of the donkey. It’s WEEK FOUR, and one of them wanders up to me in class and lets me know he still hasn’t figured out how to log in to the courseware.”

    We’re heading into week 8 around these parts and I got an email from a student this weekend who apparently forgot how to do the ongoing research project. Like, we’ve been working on, talking about and finding articles for this project for five weeks now. OVER A MONTH. And this student not only forgot what we were doing but had the ignorant balls to email me about it. I just… I don’t know what to do sometimes. I haven’t answered her email because it’s just so fucking stupid.

    For the record, I also take attendance, but I mostly teach freshmen and, honestly, they need the reminder to attend class. Many of them think college is some absurd free-for-all where you can not attend class and also magically get As. Taking attendance allows us to have conversations about why attending class is important (and it also helps me make class sessions worth attending). I currently teach an upper-division course as well and I take attendance there too, but I’m not sure I’ll do it again next semester. In that case, their grade really is up to them, and they may really not need a class session to do well.

  7. tiff

    In the US, state-funded institutions are required by law to take attendance and report it back to the federal government, who is coincidentally also giving loans to many of the students at said institutions. While I was never told explicitly that one can or cannot affect the other, I’m going to assume not showing up for class can affect me negatively in more than just academic ways. On the other hand, having to answer to role-call like a kindergartner at almost 25 does chafe just a leeeetle bit.

    Also, LOL at the child porn student. ….However, I’d keep an eye on her, personally, in the same way research has shown many firefighters in any given city have pyromaniac tendencies and were in large part attracted to their career because it allows them to be around fires frequently…

    Ugh, I’ve just creeped myself out. Don’t mind me.

  8. jesslla

    She seriously wanted you to stay after class to discuss your attitude and behavior? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I think that’s the funniest thing you’ve ever shared here. In what universe do the students get to dictate how the class is run? Oh, I know! CRAZY WORLD.


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