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Leadership

April 16, 2009

The majority, about 80%, of non-tenured faculty have not received contracts or any word about when contracts may be sent out. A good half of the faculty are non-tenured. The majority of professors in my division are non-tenured, some tenure-track, some not. A few nonrenewal letters have trickled out but not enough to divine what’s happening in the Administration.

At last night’s faculty meeting, in front of most of these haven’t-gotten-a-contract-yet faculty, the president of D’oh said she’d had “a most wonderful day,” told us all about it, then left.

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Spring Febrile Seizures

April 10, 2009

In one of my small classes, I have 2 students who consistently do things incorrectly. Not just in small ways but in big ways—for almost every assignment, I have had one or the other or both completely re-do the entire assignment, from format to content to length to discipline. One is prone to doing half of what’s assigned, or two-thirds, as if this student cannot absorb instructions or deadlines past a certain threshold. The other cannot shift from one assignment’s format to the other and seems to misunderstand every term, technique, and format. To this student in particular, I have explained the final project, in and out of class, 5 times. I still get the same questions from this student. The other has lots of ideas and enthusiasm, is an active participant in class but is just not a good student—not much of a reader, not a very good reader or plagued by distraction, bad with deadlines, things lost on a regular basis, organization problems, writing issues, especially missing what’s on the page, or not on the page.This student always thinks the assignment has been submitted but is thinking of the previous assignment, which was submitted but either riddled with errors, in the wrong format, had no student name on it, incomplete, something. Now that I have the first drafts of their 45-page final assignments, it is grating. I can feel my blood pressure rising as I answer an email that yes, you did submit an assignment last week but that was the first part and you have yet to submit the second part. I did leave out, the second part that we talked about in class just yesterday, yesterday, twice.

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Which No Do You Want? II

April 8, 2009

Earlier in the week:  A Student came to class the other morning, shocking me almost into silence. I shook my head as I put a check in the row by the name. In the meantime, we lost ability to connect to the D’oh website on campus. Because I swiped my computer from another office, a newer computer that ran a far newer version of Windows than the clunker I had, I use the website to access my email. This week, no email for me on campus. In addition to being able to now receive calls but not make them.

A couple days later: Early in the morning, at home, checking my D’oh email, I see an email from A Student. A Student wants my help–the final portfolio assignment that we were talking about in class is unclear, could I explain, and offer help because A Student has no idea where to start?

I had to get a cup of coffee first. Then I wrote to A Student:

A Student,

I can send you a copy of the assignment and schedule an appointment but I do not think that will help your situation. You still have no grades for the semester. Submitting this final assignment will not change or help that. I recommend that you withdraw from the course as soon as possible. I have copied this email to your advisor and your department chair so that they can assist you in adjusting your schedule for next year.

Dr. Eshu

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Real Questions, I Think

April 7, 2009

Some questions are printed in the student paper each issue, some to be funny but in others, the humor is faulty or missing. I don’t think any of these questions are meant to be funny and are painfully revealing:

  • Why do teachers give you Bs and Cs when they don’t teach? So shouldn’t you receive an A for effort?
  • Why does my teacher leave a note on his or her door stating he or she will be out for the day and call?
  • What is more important to the administration: money or academics?
  • Why do some professors lack compassion toward students attempting to pass a class, constantly falling back on the fact that they already have their degrees?

An honest and ambitious teacher, at any level, does not “give” grades but adds up and evaluates what students can and cannot do and have or have not done. If you do not turn in a 200-point assignment or fail to turn in any work for 8 weeks, an A is not possible or merited.

The note may mean that he or she isn’t in and you should call if you have a question or need help.

Question 3 seems too obvious to bother with.

When I tell students I already earned my degree, it’s when they expect me to do the work for them, or half the work, or to assign no work at all and spend class time chatting. I WORKED for my degree, took far more classes and read 4 times the books and texts they do and yes, I lack compassion for the student who didn’t buy the textbooks, doesn’t complete assignments, sleeps through most of the class if the student bothers to come even if I have seen this student in the hallway multiple times all day, who doesn’t participate in any activity or discussion or project…And where and why am I to be compassionate?

D’oh students really do not get, and have failed to get the many years I have been there, that office hours mean you are in your office during those hours. Every week, a student goes to the division office to complain that Dr. __ isn’t in his or her office and someone has to explain that Dr. __ is teaching or is not holding office hours because the posted hours are _ to _ and it is nowhere near _ right now, or office hours are Tuesday and Wednesday and this student insists the professor is fucking with him because s/he’s not in the office all day Thursday. They don’t get it. And badmouth professors for their own obtuseness. I’ve gotten looks from students, after explaining the concept of office hours and course schedules, that say, What kind of fool you be thinkin’ I am? You’d think in the many hours they spend as freshmen in orientation, someone would explain the whats and whys of university life.

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The Ache in My Frontal Lobes

April 4, 2009

Students with no grades. Zeros all the way across.

A student who says she’s “a little behind,” who’s submitted less than 10% of the assignments. The semester ends in a little over a month.

An administrator with vague, too-general requests, no framework, and a right-now deadline.

Parking in mud, racing to park next to a fence, circling and circling and going into work feeling like I’ve already been pushed, pulled and kicked.

A building in which every hallway, classroom and office suite is a different temperature, ranging from near balmy to Arctic.

A computer classroom where only 7 of the 20 computers work or are connected properly.

20+-page papers due in 3 weeks. That I must grade.

And all the rest.

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Fucked-up Friday

April 3, 2009

I should’ve known when I saw the email in my inbox around noon that it would be fucked up. The email said that locks in my building would be re-keyed–there was a recent theft–and keys for offices would be available in DUFMB, a building I never heard of, after 4 PM. I usually leave by 2 on Fridays. I put my head back down into the 4-inch pile of grading I need to get through. About 1-ish, I heard someone at my door but then got distracted by an email and then a Blackboard problem. I got up to go check on a document in the main office and something told me to see if my lock had been changed. My key no longer fit in the lock. I said, Shit, and looked at my office–my wallet and keys in my unlocked desk, the heater on, boom box playing since my office computer has no speakers, my personal books, the printer that I bought because there was no way I was getting one from D’oh, and had to take the chance of leaving my door open to go find out what the fuck was going on.

I found out–yes, locks changed. The locksmith, a subcontractor, said the keys would be ready soon over in DUFMB. Once I figured out what fucking building that was, I walked over with another professor. And talked to one of the nastiest looking, rudest administrators around there, and that’s saying something. Her attitude was that we were being unreasonable expecting to get back into our offices in the middle of a work day. She lied and said a master key was being sent over. When? In a few minutes. She also lied and said the keys would be ready sometime today, she couldn’t “give [us] a timeline.” I walked down the stairs with the other professor dropping fuck, fucking and motherfuckers into every single clause. When I got back to the division office, I went off. Fuck this, fuck that, motherfucking bitch, ugly ass whore, fuck this place, when I get in my office, it’s over, this day and week are fucking DONE, lock me out my fucking office WHILE I’m sitting in it? Shit.

10 minutes later, the administrative assistant opened our office doors for us. I packed my stuff, shut down the computer, and slammed the door behind me.

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25%

April 2, 2009

The number of faculty that will be cut. We do not know if that means 25% of us will not get contracts mailed to us Friday. If it is Friday.

If the cuts are equally applied, if every department has to lose one quarter of faculty, my department will lose about 3-4 people. The criteria are unclear.