Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Evil Patty Rears her Ugly Head!

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the end of the summer, both because it signifies the end of the online English class I am teaching (yeah!) and the end of freedom summer represents (boo!). Although I am not a huge fan of teaching an online class, because, seriously, teaching three semesters of the same class limits the amount of variety in your life as well as vacation from school-type activities, I have noticed I have become more of a hard-nosed person.

I received an email from one of my students (ironically a football player – but not the one who will be failing my class…for the second time, after three attempts) and he asked me if it was possible to revise any of his papers for a higher grade since he’s worried about getting a passing grade in the course. Honestly, I’ve already allowed two students to revise failing papers for higher grades with great results, so normally I wouldn’t have a problem with it; however, this student had already received passing grades on his papers, he was just freaking out because he’d hardly been doing any homework all semester long and it was coming back to bite him.

My response to him?

“I highly recommend you revise, but not for a higher grade. Work on revising Essay #4 for your portfolio, as well as another essay of your choosing. Your portfolio matters A LOT. So work on fine tuning those.

"Your rough draft of Essay 4 looks good so far. You have some great arguments, just work on having a strong thesis, organization, and look at the handouts for Essay 4 available on Blackboard's home page. These will help a lot in making your paper more effective.

"I'm always willing to look at an essay more than once before the final draft is due. If you want me to look at a final essay other than #4 that you've revised for your portfolio I will look at that and give you feedback as well.

"Sorry I can't be of more help.“

Alright, so maybe I lied to my student. Could I have been of more help? Yes. Was I willing to help him out of his predicament? No. To tell the truth, I have grown weary of the number of “poor me” and “I didn’t know” excuses I hear from students. The sense of entitlement and lack of responsibility or accountability is shocking to me. [And here is when I start to sound like a crotchety old woman yelling at the dagnabit neighborhood kids from her porch to "stop playing so loud!"]. I know part of it is upbringing, and a number of students work hard and are responsible, but I have, and continue to work hard to make sure I meet school deadlines, do my best possible job for the assignments, and I don’t expect my teachers to cut me any slack. If they do, I appreciate it, but I don’t ask for it.

You may be arguing that I had let two previous students revise their papers for a higher grade. Yes, I did. How is the football player’s situation different from these two students? 1. These students has failing papers. They did not even score high enough to receive a D on their papers, 2. They had extenuating circumstances that precluded them from putting all of their time and effort into the class (one had a sick father while the other had her computer crash – lame, maybe, but she continued to complete all of her online homework…just a day late), and 3. Neither of them asked for the chance to rewrite for a higher grade. Because they didn’t ask for it, I was more willing to offer. I think that mentality plays into my dislike for lack of responsibility and entitlement. The football player had failed to do his homework in the past, and now wanted to make up the previous work? Sorry buddy, you reap what you sow.

Man, Patty. You’re harsh!

Maybe, but maybe this student will also learn that there is a reason why there are deadlines and that you better be aware of them now or you’re only hurting yourself later. In the adult business world, if you miss a deadline, you may miss/not be prepared for an important meeting; or it may be cause for you to be passed over for a promotion or fired. Harsh, yes. But that’s life in the big, bad non-academic world. Better a lesson learned here than there.

Besides, the student can always retake this class for a passing grade if he fails…without hurting his GPA. So there – all you bleeding hearts! Sheesh.


Patty Cady said...

Let me just add this to the posting above. Believe it or not, the student actually did a revised second draft and emailed it to me. Just finished reading it and holy crap! I was blown away. It was actually really good!

Apparently my hard-nosed evil twin is good for something other than making small children cry.

Yeah for tough love!

chuck said...

I totally agree with you. Cant tell you how many 'sad stories' I've heard on the phone abt from people. I tired of them because I think I have heard almost all of them. A lot of the excuses didn't help--it's called budgeting, people--and so I had to bring out "Mean Chuck". But there are cases when I'd give people a break, and those people truly appreciated it.

Moral of this story? Yeah, life is hard and sucks sometimes, and like you said, you reap what you sow. Keep being a mean person Patty. It's for their own good.