Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Low Tide of My Patience

My patience is running low these days. I was going to say I was having a neap tide of patience, but I looked up neap tide; I'd thought a neap tide was the lowest of a low tide, but instead I find it's the lowest high tide. I love dictionaries.

We had a snow day, and I had to make some adjustments for final work. (You know, having it turned in the next class day, or making the final assignment optional because some people who couldn't do it because of the snow thing.) And now I'm inundated by people wanting to make sure that their special case is indeed, very special.

Some want to be assured that if they do this optional assignment, it can only help their grade. No, if someone does F work on the optional thing, it's an F, and unless your grade is already an F, it will tend to hurt it.

One wanted me to say whether s/he should do it or not, as if somehow I can predict what grade s/he'll get without seeing the work. I emailed back asking how the drafting and revision process was going so far. I haven't heard back. I'm guessing I won't get the optional assignment from this student.

I got emails on the snow day asking me to look over papers and give feedback. So I did. One of the students sent back an enthusiastic thank you with a couple specific questions. I felt really good about that. It was worth doing. The other didn't even bother to acknowledge that I'd read the paper. I didn't feel as good about that. (But it was still worth doing. At least I'm going to tell myself it was.)

Someone else desperately emailed me asking about his/her grade in the course. I wanted to tell the student to pull up his/her big kid pants and do the math because we'd gone over the math in class, and s/he has everything graded back, and I don't have my grade stuff here, nor do I memorize their grades. I didn't. Nope, I've learned that it's always better to answer an email like that after an hour of shoveling snow, when whatever sunshine/exercise chemicals are at their winter max for me. So I was polite, and suggested that while I didn't have the grade information at home, s/he could use the handout on figuring out grades to figure it out. She emailed me a polite and thankful response, so I'm glad I wasn't rude.

I was reading a group blog, and a guest poster is an undergrad taking a first year college course and complaining that some assignment isn't appropriate but is a grad level assignment. How does an undergrad in a first year course think s/he has more understanding about levels of assignments than someone who's actually been to grad school? I didn't write a response. I tried going out and digging some more snow, but even that didn't help, so I just clicked it closed.

It's cold outside, with a wind chill that makes it even colder. So I have to ask, does the wind chill just count for people and stuff (that is, living organisms that change their chemistry in some way to deal with temperatures), or would a piece of metal also be colder because of it were it to be hanging out in the wind?

Finally, I'd like to ask what stupid idiot forgot to get raisins at the grocery store so that I could at least make oatmeal raisin cookie dough to get myself through the snow day.

At this point, I don't even have patience with myself.


  1. I think you were very kind and professional -- even at your low point. Good work!!

  2. I'm with you. I got an email from one of my Shakespeare students last night who said that today (Thursday) is her 25th birthday and that her friends had a party planned for her. So would it hurt her grade terribly if she didn't come to class Thursday night? I wanted to write: "Oh wow - 25 really is a landmark birthday. By all means, do not let this birthday be passed up by coming to a three-hour Shakespeare class. Celebrate your youth while you've got it, because you know, we adults have to go to work on our birthdays whether we like it or not." But instead I wrote, "I won't be able to give you back your final paper if you don't come to class, but the choice is yours." Honestly, it won't affect her grade if she doesn't come. But for the love of god... 25 years old is old enough to know that you can celebrate your birthday on the weekend instead of on that particular day if you've got other obligations...

    I won't even get into the excuses from my comp students. I've never had such a bad week-long headache.

  3. Ugh.

    Sounds rough enough to drive a person to drink.

    Here's to hoping things improve (quickly)!

  4. Those good old exercise endorphins really do their job!

  5. I'm constantly losing my patience and battling with my temper right about this time of the semester. It's hard. And I'm not even riding my bike much these days to help things ... I hope your students surprise you with their organization and politeness over the next week or so until we get a break!

  6. I think you'll have to talk to the staff about the raisins. Umm, like all us privileged professors, you do have your housekeeper do the shopping?
    I want scrambled eggs, and there are no eggs in the house. The housekeeper will be fired for this. Or at least she won't get scrambled eggs for supper.

    BUT: my wv is comedi! It's a Comedi of Errors, right?

  7. I'm going to hang out here until someone answers the wind-chill question. :)

  8. I have about an ounce of patience and I need several pounds' worth just to get through my email. So I'm answering three emails, then going back to marking before I reach through the ether and do something rather vile.

    You're right about the helpful effects of just getting out there and doing something cathartic. Maybe I'll shovel the dogs a nice long path to the other end of the backyard tomorrow when next my patience reaches the breaking point!