Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A minute to spare . . .

I got my last grade turned in at 11:59 p.m. Ha.

Notes on "last grades":

a. it was really only my last possible grade, since there are students I am still (still!) hounding for last assignments. I can't stand it when they were good students and then something . . . whatever! happens, and there's no portfolio or whatnot. I can't stand it!

b. Microsoft Outlook ate a comment, a lovely, long, thoughtful comment, that I wrote for a student writer because it thought it needed to log off. I have some choice words for Microsoft Outlook, but since my lovely aunt may occasionally read this blog, I will just say: I have some choice words for you, Microsoft Outlook, so you better stay out of my way or else cough up that comment you ate.

c. I must reconstruct the above comment, plus write some more for a few more students. But hey, the grades are in! And they're high!

d. High grades = character flaw on part of teacher? Discuss.

e. All my grading bones and muscles are achy and tight.

Open Letter to End of the Semester Evaluation of Students:

End of the Semester Evaluation of Students, you loom over every interesting, writerly, inventive idea I have to make writing pleasurable or compelling. You and your rheumy eyes, your hacking cough, your irritating standards.

I hate you, End of the Semester Evaluation of Students. You make me feel weak. When you are near--and when are you NOT near, E.o.t.S.E.o.S.?--you fill me with self-doubt. You are nothing but a self-fulfilling monologue: "They cannot write. They cannot write. No one will believe that this is writing. Think of what the Others will say when they know that you said this student could write! This student cannot write. None of your students can really write." Really, you could be an endless loop of yourself. You, perhaps more than any other Presence in my professional life, End of the Semester Evaluation of Students, conjure up a factory, in which my teaching is just another (sing it with me now) brick in the wall.

End of the Semester Evaluation of Students, why don't you just do all the grading yourself and leave me out of it? The way you go on, it seems like that's what you'd rather, anyway. In any case, I am now officially giving you the cold shoulder. When I think of my students and their writing, I will think of the funny or beautiful things they wrote--intentional or not--and how words always wiggle and do acrobatics, instead of staying under control the way you pretend they do and can, if I had only taught the students how to write rather than how not to write, which is what I apparently do, according to you, End of the Semester Evaluation of Students. Well, how about this: I gave a bunch of high grades! So chew on that, old man, Mr. Professor of They Can't Write, Ph.D. No matter what you say, I'm the one pushing the A button to signify all the writing they can or can't do.

And now? The semester is over. I hope you're going somewhere gloomy for vacation, because you really wouldn't enjoy a lovely location, where people don't care about the writing they can't do, just as in the rest of their lives they only worry about their writing maybe eight percent of the time. Unlike me, being loomed over by you.

Stop the looming. I quit you, End of the Semester Evaluation of Students: I quit you I quit you I quit you! So stop bothering me.

Sincerely,

Professor H.T. Megastore

3 comments:

lis said...

I love, love your open letters--this one especially. Take that, end of semester evaluation!

Counterintuitive said...

Must do more of: "When I think of my students and their writing, I will think of the funny or beautiful things they wrote--intentional or not--and how words always wiggle and do acrobatics"

Yet: giving some Cs and Ds can also feel very good and right.

Limon de Campo said...

"High grades = character flaw on part of teacher?"

No, no, no! And if I have to sit through one more "wringing-of-the-hands-grade-inflation-means-the-terrorists-win" discussion, I will personally stand up and announce that high grades can very possibly mean that the teacher did a wonderful job.

Keep fighting the good fight.

P.S. I agree that Cs and Ds are good sometimes too. I'm not all-As-all-the-time. I thought I should note that.

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