Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Notes to panicky students.

TO: Panicky Student


DATE: the day after the deadline

SUBJECT: Your work

Yes, it's true: the deadline has passed. The deadline for everything, including the peer reviews for the position paper, which you did not do. Perhaps you remember that those peer reviews were due in October. As I understand it, you're asking me if you can do those peer reviews now, now that everything is due--past due, even. Peer reviews, which are intended to aid your peers. In revising their work. Which has all been turned in.

There is an absurdity inherent in your request. It's an absurdity that has now infected my own thinking about everything. Why peer reviews? Why points? Why not? What the hell?

I do not appreciate thinking these thoughts right now. I just want you to know that I am in a non-appreciative state as I approach grading. Grading your work, as it turns out. I hope you can see the paradox. It's an elegant one.


TO: Panicky Student, another one


DATE: the day after the deadline

SUBJECT: Your opinion of how my class was organized

I totally appreciate that you took the time to tell me that my class was disorganized. I have been contemplating this view of yours ever since I read it, a couple of days ago, when you were also asking for my help in finishing the culminating project of the course. Believe me, I think about the possibility all the time--your comment was not the first time I have wondered this about my course. I weigh your note seriously in the balance with the fact that most of the students in the class have already finished the assignment you are finding so puzzling, that you see as an indicator of my failures.

Perhaps you might like a short refresher in the ancient art of asking for help, which generally relies upon good will all around. I know, I'm your professor. It's my job to help you, and I want to help you, I really do. I admit though, that I felt infinitessimally grouchier when you asked, after having pronounced your judgment. Infinitessimally, yet measurably. Yep, when I think of you, I will always remember, s/he was the one who told me my class was disorganized. The one who reminded me of my failures. In fact, I'll probably never forget you, dear student. Ever.


TO: Panicky Student, yet another one


DATE: the day after the deadline

SUBJECT: what should be your priorities at this point.

That's easy: your priority should be the assignment with the most points.

Let me rephrase: that assignment which, without its associated points, will be the death of you and your hopes for a passing grade--that's the one, that's your priority.

To be clear: do not, as you attempt to glean last late points from failures to post replies to at least two peers in small-potatoes discussions, fail to remember the big-ass assignment weighing down the point distribution. The assignment sitting there, heavy and weighty and significant, worth 30% of your grade: don't neglect that one!


  1. Due, past due

    has a poet ring to it.

  2. why thank you sir.

  3. oh those pesky students, when will they ever learn!

  4. Ay, Amelia, there's the rub! I'm not sure they (or many of them, to use a qualifier) ever will. *sigh*

  5. You nail it in what should be your priorities. If only I could get students to recognize this point in the last two weeks. Instead some search for an easier way to pass the class than pull a full effort on the "big ass assignment." No. No. No.



Related Posts with Thumbnails