Today I had a rash of students who were very upset with me. They were very upset with me because they had ignored, overlooked, or forgotten instructions I had given them, in writing, earlier in the semester. Their inability to get their shit together makes them very angry at me.
I am holding the line on this one, but man, it is a constant onslaught. I have to keep repeating “failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part,” and similar. Honestly, I think a lot of it is that no one ever made these students deal with the consequences of their actions.
#1 How dare you apply the late penalty?
In my syllabus, I have a clearly explained late penalty; essentially, students get a couple of penalty-free days, then after that it’s 3% per day. The student with the invisible essay from the last post eventually handed her essay in, but by the time she did, it had racked up a record number of late marks. Like, in the region of, after she got her grade, the essay narrowly missed having a negative score. Boy is she mad. Her other essay was a couple days late, so it lost 6% for lateness, too. She stopped me after class to give me a telling off; “What does this -6% and -69% mean?” I explained it was the late penalty applied as per the policy in the syllabus, which she has had in her possession since DAY ONE OF SEMESTER.
The idea that I would actually TAKE these marks off made her so mad she couldn’t even make the words come out. I mean, she was MAD at me, and she was staring and me and her mouth was moving, but no sounds came out. You handed your essay in 3 weeks late. How is this my fault?
#2 What do you mean, deadline means deadline?
Students in one class have to sign up for presentations, which are on books of the students’ choosing. I am very strict about not allowing duplicate presentations, on account of the extreme physical pain the boredom they induce causes in me and the other students. I deal with this by having a “first come first served” policy. This has the added bonus of allowing the keeners and the nervous get stuff out of the way early in the semester before they have time to get too wound up.
This week was the last week for presentations, so last week, I warned the stragglers that they needed to nail down the book choices for today’s presentations. One student, let’s call her Unlucky Una, said “can I do book A?” to which I replied, “no, that’s taken.” So then she says she will email me, and doesn’t until Monday, when she asks “can I do book B?” Nope, taken. (She’s choosing, let me be clear, from a potential field of thousands of choices, and her problem is that she is going for the utterly obvious every time, as have a number of her fellow procrastinators.)
Then she emails me late yesterday evening with a bid on topic C, which is, guess what, also taken. Said email I do not manage to see before class this morning. In class, all the other students present, but at the start of one presentation, Una sighs audibly and, I kid you not, stamps her foot. We get through all the other students, and I call on Una, and she says “I can’t present because SHE took my book.” I dismiss the class, and say I will talk to Una separately.
At this point, I am subject to a tirade. It is not fair of me to have let other students pick their books before Una. “But, I said it was first come first served, and they told me their choices weeks ago.” Well, I should have answered her emails more promptly. When did she send that last email? Yesterday evening. “I’m sorry, I teach until 9 on Tuesday nights, and I didn’t look at my email after 5.” Well, I should have let her know this morning, then. At which I boggle, because really, she is going to slap together her presentation in 2 hours or less? What a valuable insight into the working processes of a procrastinator. I point out that she has seriously had ALL SEMESTER to work this out, and she left it to the last couple of days, but it’s still my fault.
I want to give her a zero, seriously I do, but instead I offer to give her all the marks for the task for the essay portion (remember, the famous essay portion). I am not really holding my breath for a quality product, here.
#3 But I didn’t look at the due date
In my other class, students have an assignment due this week. A couple of them (and they are a couple, about which I need to rant on another occasion) decided that this task was due next week. From whence did they get this impression? I have no idea. “The date in the syllabus is this week.” It’s been in there all semester, but apparently the fact that they didn’t check is also my fault. I am sure that one is going to bite me in the ass on the evaluation.
I’ve had a few requests, but the sad fact is that Neddy, after making me spend 45 minutes explaining to him why he got a D on his second paper (it was the 21 spelling and apostrophes that did it, and YES, I COUNTED), and another 20 minutes trying to help him get the idea that “I am just going to talk from my own experience” is not a good approach for a research paper, and then a talk about his attitude and how, if I have spent over an hour with him in meetings ALREADY, I AM FUCKING NOT GOING TO TALK TO HIM IN THE 5 MINUTES I HAVE BETWEEN CLASSES, has vanished almost without trace. He sent a couple emails explaining he had missed classes because he had, and I quote, “appointments,” but since then, radio silence.