Tuesday, December 11, 2018

top (bottom?) ten

I decided to bake cookies this afternoon as a way of clearing my head a little. Also, we have the tradition in my department of bringing food for Finals Week - some people just buy stuff, but a couple of us (and not just the women!) like to go a little further by making stuff.

I have a batch of Fudgy Oat Bars cooling - this is a comparatively-simple recipe to do, and everyone likes it, and it makes a lot. And I've got a small batch of shortbread dough (I did the "spiced" variation, with a little cinnamon, ginger, and cloves added to it) that I am going to try to cut out with my Hello Kitty cookie cutters. (I am not sure how many it will make, or how successful they will be, but I'm going to try. I don't want to bake them HARD, and it doesn't matter too much as there are no eggs in them)

But anyway. The reason I needed to clear my head is this:

The Top (or Bottom) Ten Things that Weary Professors this Time of Year:

10. "That wasn't in the syllabus" (Oh, yes it was. And then one variant I got once: "I didn't know because in my department we don't use syllabi" - this from a student majoring in Something Else and who tended to seem to "gaslight" a little bit - telling me stuff that seemed not-true on first hearing, but being so insistent I started to doubt myself. Anyway, I knew the chair of the student's department a bit from serving on a committee with him, and I e-mailed him and got back "Ha ha, nice try on that student's part, of course we use syllabi")

9. "Can I take the exam early?" (or worse: "late?") I am grudgingly willing to do "early" during exam week though I think we're technically not supposed to, but I won't give a final before finals week except in DIRE circumstances (like: a student who had a parent going to have surgery) and even then I might not have it ready.

And taking an exam late: uh-uh. When  I get my grades done, I want them DONE.

And don't ask me to take it early so you can go on vacation early. I will give exams early if you have  multiple ones in a day - which is really the only valid reason. But giving an exam early so you can jet off somewhere, no. You knew when exam week was when you planned your vacation.

8. "When is the exam?" (Check the review sheet I handed out and have posted on the class website. Or look up the schedule the university publishes; I don't depart from it)

7. "Can you write a recommendation for me? It's due tomorrow." (please please please: NEVER ask me to do something with less than 48 hours lead-time, and especially not during exam week.)

6. "What do I need to keep my A?"/"Can I still earn a B?"/"How well do I need to do on the final to pass?" First of all, I have a gradebook online. You know how many points you earned. You know how many points have been assigned. Calculate your current percentage. Then add in the final exam points to the total to get the total points. Then figure out, if you want an A, what is 90% of that....is it still achievable? You can figure this out.

And "Can I still pass?" I don't know. If I could see into the future I'd have either played the lottery or picked stocks and now be living in a luxury cabin up in the mountains where I can hire handsome delivery guys to bring my groceries to me.

5. "When will you have these graded?" Faster, if you don't keep asking me. Again, I can't see the future. One of my colleagues might keel over with a heart attack and I might have to help do CPR on them until paramedics get here. I might get a migraine and have to go home and lie down. A long-lost friend might call me on the phone and dangit, I am not going to put them off to grade papers.

I will post the grades as soon as they are done. Not before.

4. "But I'm getting As in all my other classes!" The students don't realize we can check their transcripts. This is usually a lie.

3. "Can I still hand this late thing in?" First of all: No. Second of all: No. Check the syllabus. Third of all: are you aware that you might have four final exams, but I have 120 final exams - four to write, yes, but 120 to grade. So: No.

2. "Can I get some extra credit?" Let's see what Mr. Syllabus says: "No, I don't give extra credit. Please don't ask."

Also this:

Most of the time when someone asks for extra credit, it's because they totally missed an exam, or have not-handed-in a number of assignments. Most of my classes have a VERY high number of points available (300 points of exams, a 150 point final, 100 points of papers....you get the idea) so if someone blows one exam, they can usually earn enough points to do OK elsewhere. Except when they blow off a paper or a lab.

And that brings me to:

1. "Is there anything I can do to raise my grade?"

This is worse, because I've found out in some cases - from talking to the student - that they REALLY mean, "Will you give me free points out of the goodness of your heart?" Not only would this be academic malpractice on my part, it would be allowing them perhaps to move on to a later class in the sequence without proper preparation or knowledge which doesn't benefit them OR the person teaching it.

(I have a good heart, but not good in that way, and really, in the long run, it is not good for the person to pass them along unprepared)

And I may be kinda fat, but I ain't Santa Claus.

(If the person asked me that question at the START of the semester, I could give them all kinds of advice on study tips, or other books they could consult, or offer to do tutoring. And I make a big fat hairy deal about "come in as soon as you see there's a problem, the earlier you come in the better I can help you" but not many people DO)

I admit I've been tempted to say, "Yeah. Build a time machine, go back to the beginning of the semester, and study this go 'round" but that's not helpful and if someone COULD build a time machine....well, they have no business being stuck in a small regional university; they should be out killing Hitler instead.

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