Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I was gracious

But sometimes, you know, I want not to be. Or I want to be a little better at letting people know just how ill-formed some of their requests are.

I got an e-mail from a student. One of my summer classes runs until 10:40 am. But this student (who happens to be repeating the class) has to be at work at least some days of the week at 10. So, the student asks, "Will the class let out early?"

Uh, wait.

"Will the class let out early?"

This is a summer class. In the semi-hard sciences. (Sociology is considered "soft science." Physics is considered "hard science." So biology must either be semi-hard or semi-soft, depending on how you look at it. And "semi-soft science" sounds too much like cream cheese.).

Summer classes move twice as fast as the regular semester.

So: "Will the class let out early?"

I think this is the kind of thing that's burning me out. The requests that, I guess in student-universe, seem somehow reasonable, but in professor-universe are something that can only lead to problems.

And yes. I know. In some classes, in some departments "let out early" is SOP for summer classes. I get that. But I can't cover the material I feel I need to cover and also let the students out early. And if I did, they'd not get what they (or their parents, or the taxpayers, or the people funding the scholarships) were paying for. I expect my summer classes to be AS EQUIVALENT AS POSSIBLE to the regular-semester varieties. They are not a "lite" variety, they are not easier.

(I guess I'm actually more irritated that there do exist professors who operate such that this becomes a reasonable request for a student to make, than for the student naively making it. Okay, yes: my classes might let out early. Like, five minutes early on the odd occasional day when I've finished one topic and don't feel like launching into the next. But not FORTY minutes, and not consistently so!)

I answered "No, class will not let out early" and left it at that, but, ugh.

Edited to add: It's entirely possible the student decided to ask me before approaching their boss because I seem more, well, approachable. It's a double-edged sword: in my early days here one of the complaints I got on evaluations was that I seemed unapproachable and I did my best to change that (because you must fear the Mighty Evaluation and obey its commands). But now I find myself somewhat besieged at times with requests that seem not-at-all reasonable to me, and I wonder if I need to cultivate a more Snape-like persona.

Of course, there is at least one employer in town that is rumored to show students the door when they ask for scheduling adjustments so they can go to class, and it could be a case like that.

And of course the student doesn't realize that they're not the only person asking for this type of consideration. 


Charlotte said...

Seems to me the student would be better served by asking for a change in the work start time.

Jess said...

It's probably better to be gracious, instead of asking if they're out of their mind.