Friday, 13 May 2016

7 Quick Takes 31: Things I Wish I'd Told My Students

Because it's over! Not just finals, but the job. Time to regroup, reclaim our family life, and then on to pastures new. And a few reflections on things I ought to have said in class: the good, the bad, and the ugly...

1. I know I look pretty old standing up here (because, unlike most of your mothers, I don't dye my hair and wear make up), but I really remember being your age, and I really, really feel compassion for you. It's just, I have to be your teacher, not your friend.

Me in class on a good day...

2. I get much more excited about the student who struggles his way from a D to a C (or even B!) than the know-it-all who breezes through with his A. OK, I try to say this on occasion, but I doubt they believe it.

3. Just hand me the exams and let's all go home. There are usually two types who stay for the whole university-appointed three hours: the over diligent who already have a solid A, and the desperate who aren't going to pull their grade up at the eleventh hour. The air conditioning's been going full blast and I'm freezing, I've read exams until my brain has given out, I've scrolled through Facebook ten times, I'm dying for a cup of tea. It's painful to watch you scribbling against the clock - let's take pity on one another and call it a day.

4. Please cover up that cleavage. Here's a poncho I have just for the purpose. I never had any problem telling guys to hitch up their trousers and not flash everyone their underwear, but there's all this baggage attached to requesting that girls have a certain minimum dress code: you're suggesting they're asking to be assaulted, that they can be labelled for what they wear, that their body isn't their own, that it's always the other person's problem if they cause distraction, and so on, and so on.  No, I just want a level of attire that shows both respect for everyone in class and suggests you are learning how to dress and act for the occasion. That, incidentally, is why I also ban swearing and blasphemy - and told a student not to wear a baseball camp with "f**k Trump" written on it.

Now that creates a proper learning environment.

5. I'll say this only once. I never dared say anything less than three times - and maybe that wasn't enough for some. Maybe saying it once would have trained them better.

6. Whine all you like. I've given in my notice and got an exit letter of recommendation from my department head - and he's retiring and moving to Wyoming. Burn. A very small, naughty part of me longed for a student to make a complaint so I could say this :)

7. And finally, I really, really wish I had said this:

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  1. These are great - the Trelawny picture is just how they probably think of me!
    I have told my classes(esp. those looking to pull up an abysmal grade) before Dec finals, that although it's the Christmas season, miracles will be in short supply. (I follow it with that most people do score their typical grade on the final, so don't plan on much more.) Not out of malice, but a dose of reality. Denial is a big part of many of my students academic outlook.

  2. I love your list! All of them, but especially #4 - I've noticed that, too, and even wrote about it once. The Internet has pretty much made it "body shaming" to enforce any kind of minimum code for respectful dress. So silly.