Tag Archives: email

Neddy has company.

So I get an email from a student who I have no idea who he is, and I swear I am not making this up, in it he says:

I haven’t been attending class lately [read, have not attended since that one time on day 1] and I was wondering if there is anything I can do to get caught up in class.  I had registered for this class with a friend of mine who ended up switching out, but when I looked on Blackboard today I was still registered in this course.  I don’t want to withdraw and I was wondering what I could do to get all the assignments and work I have missed.

I had to read it a couple of times to get the gist, but it seems to be that he thought that his buddy dropping the class would somehow magically communicate to the Registrar that he wanted to drop as well. This is a new one on me me.

In other news, Neddy is cross with me. Let me contextualize.

I, in company with the majority of known Earth Professors, have a little diagram, grid or table on the door of my office. This grid, has, listed across the top of the columns, the names of the days of the week, and down the left hand side, numerical representations of a range of hours of the day, such that the grid forms little boxes, each representing a block of time, that is to say, an hour of a day.

(Artist’s conception)






You get the gist, I am sure, dear Readers, because you are not morons.

So, Neddy, having BEEN to see me in my office hour at least 3 times, emails me to complain about the “diagram on your office door” because, apparently, it is “not clear”. HOW it is not clear, is, of course, not clear.

It’s a good thing I am all calm because we had a week off, and I spent it here:

Bossy and I throw down.

So, you know how it was, like, reading break last week? And there were no classes? And a bunch of my students missed class on the Thursday before, including Bossy, because it was like the last class before a week off? Well, I kindly sent them a reminder email late last week, since I had been getting emails that indicated confusion about a) when their essays were due, and b) which day we were having our library research session, and c) what the difference between their asses and their elbows might be.

Yesterday morning, it was snowing like fuck, and yes traffic was a little bad, and yes my class was at sparrowfart. When I got to class, there were 4 students there, and I wondered out loud, and rhetorically, where they might be, knowing the answer was, “in that bus that we can see out the window – the one that appears to be stuck in the driveway outside the building.” One student said, “yeah, the traffic is really bad,” and I was about to say something about giving them 5 minutes before we started when Bossy initiated the following conversation:

Bossy [with, like, totally a tone]: Maybe they went to the library.
Me: Why would they do that?
Bossy: Because of the email, which I only got at 7am this morning [sic].
Me: The email I sent 5 days ago? That says the library class is on Thursday, so don’t go to the library today?
Bossy: Yeah. Well, I don’t know when you sent it.
Me: I sent it 5 days ago.
Bossy: Well, I don’t have email at home. You shouldn’t be trying to contact me via email.
Me [applying the stink eye, which effectively communicates “how, then shall, I contact you, given that you missed the last class?]: [silence].
Bossy: Look. I am not trying to attack you.
Me: Thank you for clearing that up, because from where I am sitting, it certainly sounded like you were.

At this  point, the bus finally makes it up the hill, and another half a dozen snow-covered students stagger in.

UPDATE: She was 15 minutes late to class today because she went to the wrong room. After making a fuss about how she got the email. Saying which room the class was in. I KNOW!

What did we do for lulz before email?

By which I mean, I get a lot of hilarious email from students saying stuff I am sure they would not be so foolish as to say in person. Email lets students send weaksauce excuses without having to go through the face-to-face embarrassment of barefaced lying, and it lets them ask stupid questions they are too chicken to ask in class, for the most part. I get a ton of emails that are sent 5 minutes after class often asking questions that were answered in class already, or that ask for clarification on things I mentioned (and have often asked “Is everyone clear?”), or that ask embarrassingly basic questions. (Eg, “What’s a tunic?” Answer: “Do you own a dictionary?”)

Sometimes students save these for the end of class because they don’t want to ask them in front of the group. I get that. You are a moron, and you want to keep that a secret from your peers. Somehow email makes this stuff less embarrassing, because maybe it feels like you are just asking your computer, and not your actual prof, and besides, asking in email means you don’t have to watch him or her hold back snorts of derisive laughter.

Then, of course, there are the inadvertently amusing infelicities in expression, and the emails that are so dreadfully written that they engender gnashing of teeth, banging on keyboards and demands that colleagues come and look at what this asshole has written.

Once in a rare while, there is an email that transcends all this mundane amusement, and launches itself into the realm of epic lulz. Such an email, I was lucky enough to receive on Friday. I share it with you, mildly edited:

It was my first term at college this year in the fall semester. I was enrolled in your English 101 course and completed the course. However, I checked my exam dates on the college website on the Saturday before the exam week. Unfortunately, the English 101 exam was on that Saturday morning and I had completely missed it. I was very concerned about it because I have NEVER before missed an exam, and never before had exams on the weekend. I am wondering how I could fix this.

Okay, you read that and you might smirk a little. Dude “completes” the course, but forgets to go to the final because he isn’t quite sure when exam week started. He’s a loser, but shit happens. It’s no worse than the girl who missed her exam because she confused the date and thought it was Thursday instead of Wednesday, or the stoner who slept in and missed the 8am exam, or the other girl who didn’t realise that she had two exams at the same time until, like 15 minutes before they both started, OMG.

Ask any department secretary, and she will tell you these are common or garden student doofuses, and that every exam period there will be a handful of them, suffering from terminal “can’t get my shit together” which is generally fixed by having them sit in the next available slot during the exam period.

Ah yes, the exam period. Here’s where “I can’t believe the final was on Saturday” dude really launches himself into the stratosphere. See, in all previous known cases, students who missed the final and figured it out, like later that day, as he claims to have done, were in contact with the prof and/or the department pretty much the next day. Monday at the latest. So while their mistakes were embarrassing, they were fixable.

Not for this guy, though. This guy waited – wait for it – 6 weeks before he sent his email. SIX FUCKING WEEKS! Can you believe that? He’s “very concerned” and that prompts him to wait an entire 42 days before doing anything about it. That was time for the entire exam period to be over (since, as he notes, the exam he missed was on the first day), all the marks to be in, everyone to be off for more than 2 weeks for Xmas break, the new year to start, the new semester to start, the add/drop date for the new semester to be over, the supplemental exam period for people who were hit by a bus to be over, and academic probation reports to come out. This last, presumably, is what finally prompted him to get in touch. That, or his parents to ask how he did on his exams.

You know what really puzzles me? This is not an outwardly dumb guy. He was getting a B before the exam debacle, and he can walk upright. Hell, he has a licence to fly a DC10. I am guessing that the pilot exam was not on a Saturday morning. Either that, or the airline industry has been involved in a long and complex conspiracy about just how hard it is to fly an aircraft.

A Grabbag from my Email Inbox.

So, semester started, which means I already have a series of hilarious emails from assorted snowflakes, which I am of course willing to share, for the lulz.

First, we have the common or garden “I am going to miss the first 3 classes because I will be still on vacay in Mexico with my parents” email. This one never ceases to appall me, even though I get at least one a semester. There are a couple of things that make this kind of email elicit a WTF response. One, of course, is that the dates of the start of semester are not secret, and so what kind of parents are these, who jeopardise their child’s academic success for the transient enjoyment of some kind of hedonistic beach vacation, during which, odds are, family members bicker constantly, possibly even about Junior’s grades last semester? Two is, why do these morons think telling me they are lying on the beach is somehow something I want to know? I am slaving away getting up before the crack of dawn in order to hand out course outlines to slack-jawed yokels who will lose them by next week. Don’t you think I want to be lying on a beach somewhere drinking margaritas?

The next email, or “eamil” comes from a dude who is clearly in the right place in English for the Backward, but needs all the class time he can get, couch or no couch. I quote, for your delectation.

Hi my name is Flakky Snowflak. I’m in your class on mondays and wensdays.
I will be in class this monday but im going to  miss tomrrow becuase
i’m sick and I can’t stop couching. Please eamil me the course outline
and any homework you assin tomrrow.
my eamil is flakky@hotmail.com

He’s polite, I will give him that; most of them don’t say “please”.

Finally we have the email from the student who thinks I am incompetent. Already! Some background: there’s this software, possibly designed by a committee of Hell’s least competent demons, called “Blackboard”. It is “Courseware,” whatever the hell that means, and its supposed use is that it has a series of functions to support academics who are teaching at post secondary level. The word “supposed” here is key.

An example of Blackboard’s functionality I experienced just this week, when I contacted the teaching support goon at our institution:

Me: So, hey, I had this hip and groovy idea to do a short weekly podcast for my students, you know, announcements, things they missed, stuff like that.
Goon: That sounds very technology-forward of you.
Me: So can I do that in Blackboard at all?
Goon: Theoretically, you should be able to, but we are finding that the RSS feature doesn’t actually work very well.
Me: What does that mean, exactly? As in, with regard to implementing my idea?
Goon: Well, you can upload the mp3s to Blackboard, and then you can email your students and tell them to download the mp3 and figure out how to play it.
Me: [stabbing self in back of hand with plastic fork I am using to eat my lunch] Kthxbai.

It is experiences like this, along with the fact that the parts of it that do work annoy the hell out of me (like the gradebook. Do I want my grade-grubbing students to be able to see their marks to 2 decimal places at any hour of the day or night so they can come bug me about them? I do not) that have caused me to abandon the use of Blackboard, in favour of a nice simple blog where I post helpful information and links. No, not this blog, gentle readers; I laugh heartily at your pleasantry.

I explain this whole blog business to my students at great length, putting the blog address on their course outline, showing it to them in the first class, and linking to it from their college computer account thingummies. I say, “I do not like Blackboard; I will not use it, Sam I am,” incorporating jokes, dance moves and music to reinforce the message. Despite this, I get emails like the following, and no doubt will continue to get them throughout the semester.

I was looking on blackboard and it doesn’t list english 18th literature
as one of my classes on the right side. Should I contact someone to fix it?

The thing I really like about this is the snotty undertone, with its suggestion that somehow the student has more authority to get my course sorted out than I do. I offer you here my fantasy response, since in real life, I can’t put in the swears.

Dear Snotty McSnotterson,
Did you come to the first class before you decided to micromanage me? Your question indicates either that you are too stupid to understand plain English, even when a statement is repeated 3 times, twice orally and once in writing, or you an arrogant bitch who is emailing me with complaints about the way I decide to run my course without even bothering to attend a class. Either way, fuck right off.

Man, that felt good.

Back to responding to the emails about whether I will be attending “Meet a Prof” night at the pub – god, no; whether I prefer a 10am or an 8am meeting – duh; and whether I can manage without my textbooks for a couple of days because they are lost in the mail, or fell off the truck or something – experience having been a harsh mistress in this department, the answer is, yes, because I now routinely assume my students won’t have texts until week 3 of semester.