Monday, December 13, 2010

I survived

Yup, I made it. Frankly, looking back over some of the times of the past semester, I'm surprised I didn't melt down - or get angry - or do some other potentially-career-damaging thing in front of a class. Because I had the Snowflakes this year. At least one per class - one person who either liked to add a running commentary track (Folks, that's only funny in things like Mystery Science Theater 3000), or who had OH MY GOODNESS so many problems that I wondered if Winnie-the-Pooh's little black rain cloud had come to rest over their heads, or who took such a monumental lack of responsibility (claimed to e-mail me multiple assignments but then never checking if I received them - which I did not - and then telling me at the end of the semester that **I** "NEEDED" to do something so they could salvage their grade, because it was obviously MY fault I didn't receive their e-mails).

On the other hand, there were some success stories:

- a student who started out with a 45% on the first exam, who came to me for extra help, who mentioned that he had been diagnosed as ADD in high school but "didn't wan that to follow me here" (leading me to suggest maybe he needed to go get rediagnosed - and he was, and when I gave him a quiet environment to take the exams, he wound up earning a C - so he passed)

- A returning, non-traditional student who was apprehensive, but to whom I gave lots of reassurance, earned an A in another class.

- Some people learning important lessons about life.

- A few students who seemed to genuinely enjoy the classes.

But I'm glad to be done. Shortly, I will leave for an extended break with my family, which I really feel that I need - I think I feel more "worn" after this semester than most before. That could be because of the 15-hour overload (12 is considered normal load; at 16 hours they have to start paying us more). And the fact that we had an unpleasant bit of administrative dealings this fall (there is someone whose contract will not be renewed; it took a certain amount of soul-searching to come to that decision). And all the rumors and reports of bad, bad financial times for our university ahead. (I'll be OK. I don't think they'd let me go because (a) I'm tenured (b) I teach in a fairly "essential" department and (c) I generate a lot of student credit-hours, based on my calculation my pay is about half what I earn for the university in tuition). I do expect there will be no raises, and there may be mandatory pay cuts, but whatever. I still have a job. I can scale back if I need to. (I can do better with more time and less money than I could with more money and less time, as I decided after this fall. So while I might not be willing to teach an extra-heavy load again, especially if there are pay cuts, I wouldn't be too upset over doing 12 hours if there were a pay cut).

Hopefully next semester will be better. I'm not the only one who found this a taxing and disappointing semester - a lot of my colleagues have commented on their disappointment in the current crop of students. Well, maybe some of them got whipped into shape a bit, and maybe we'll get some good new incoming folks. I don't know. I hope.

My biggest issue - and perhaps if I have time before I leave, I'll do another installment of "Fixing It" discussing this - is the whole work ethic issue. A lot of the students who disappointed me were not so much not-smart as they were lazy, and unwilling to put in effort to stuff, and that frustrates me far more than a student who lacks background or experience (which can be fixed) or one who just can't quite hack it (which I can deal with - it breaks my heart to assign the "D" to someone who worked hard but just didn't get it, but I can deal with it better than assigning a "C" to a person who is smart but doesn't give a flip.)

1 comment:

Heroditus Huxley said...

Absolutely, amen.

Thank God this semester is done.