Friday, July 25, 2008


So I come in this morning. To an e-mail from the guy I referred to yesterday. He's complaining about his semester grade. (He got a C. He says he's "only 5 points" away from a B, but as I remember it, that's percentage points, not actual point-points, which are two very different things).

He tried to make a case but unfortunately (for him) only succeeded in pissing me off more.

First off: "I find it hard to get to 8 am classes because I work nights."

Oh, really? Gee, I don't remember you ever having informed me you worked nights. And the fact that you screwed off in lab a lot and sponged off your lab mates (and yes, I notice such things) kind of had me thinking you didn't value the class.

(In the return e-mail, I said, "I'm sorry but everyone faces difficulties in life. You should have told me about yours.")

I mean, seriously: yes, it is an 8 am class. But it is not an 8 am class year-round. Only in the summer. He could have taken it in the regular semester.

Frankly, if you work full time, you should NOT be taking summer classes. Period, end of sentence. It's too much work in too short of a time. Take the summer off, work some over time, save up some money.

Second: "But I'm only 5 points away."

Yeah? This is where "faculty discretion" comes in. I see someone chronically skipping class, being a screw-off in lab, getting up and walking out after completing the test on test-days when I had made it clear I was going to cover lecture material. I interpret that as Bad Attitude and I don't bump grades up for that.

(Again, I said: "You should have let me know of what was going on in your life.")

Finally: "I think you graded me harshly on my paper considering there were some people who made up results or didn't even finish theirs."

Okay, there is so much wrong with this statement that it's hard for me to begin.

First of all: he really doesn't want me re-grading his paper because I was somewhat lenient.

Second of all: it INFURIATES me that he's pulling this card. Granted, I have no way to assess whether the students are reporting honest data. None of the data I saw looked "too good" or failed to make sense. I told him - in a more polite way - that I thought it was shabby of him to try that as an excuse.

And if he knows people are falsifying reports, he should report it, with evidence, to me. Not use it as some kind of lever to try to get a better grade.

And if he's referring to one particular woman in the class who did a paper that was kind of off the topic, he doesn't know the full story: that she came to me at the beginning of the semester and said, "this is related to an internship I am doing; may I write it up for my report?" and we discussed it and I okayed it. And she wrote the BEST DAMN REPORT in that class. So if that's what he's referring to, he can blow it out one of his bodily orifices.

So I e-mailed him back, saying, in more polite terms:

hell no I won't change your grade. I think it's shabby to accuse your classmates of dishonesty in the service of trying to get a better grade. And you should have told me what was going on in your life that kept you from class (but anyway, it shouldn't: 8 am is 8 am regardless of your work schedule).

I refrained from mentioning his screw-offing-ness in lab, but I could have pulled that card if I wanted to be nasty and escalate things.

I wrote to my department chair explaining, to give her a heads up, seeing as I'm leaving town for meetings on Monday and won't be around to defend myself if he decides to go over my head.

I really hope it doesn't come down to my being forced to change his grade. That will make me angry. (It could happen; our good supportive dean retired and we now have an unknown quantity in his place. And if he goes crying to the dean...who knows what will happen).

Stuff like this makes me hate teaching a little. It makes me wonder if I want to still be doing this in five years. But the problem is, I don't know what else I COULD do, what else I would be any good at. I so do not have the "salesman" personality that I know I would loathe sales or retail.

Maybe I better start buying Lotto tickets and hoping I hit the big one...

1 comment:

Kate P said...

Maybe with the dept. chair in your corner, your grade will stand.

This too shall pass, so don't go crazy on the lotto tix yet. My boss's admin tells me she keeps asking God to let her win the lottery. Her husband makes six figures and they live in a house they custom built, and they just put in an expensive fence to keep their new puppies in, so I just get such an urge to punch her. I hope that passes, too!