Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Energy Saps

One of my colleagues is dealing with a plagiarism case, and we were talking the other day about how much energy it saps from you to deal with plagiarism.  There's plenty of time in tracking things down, making sure you're doing the process correctly, making sure you know the ins and outs of the rules, talking it through with the chair and contacting deanlings.  But beyond that, it just saps energy.

To a lesser extent, students who want to get all legalistic sap energy.  You know the ones, the ones who stop in to see why they "lost" a point and didn't get that B they really think they deserved, when they got what you (the instructor) sees as a generous C.  Just thinking about those students saps my energy.

I find the same sapping when deanlings want to come to meetings and talk at us about whatever it is they think is really important.  For example, we have one deanling who, whenever he's explaining anything about advising, wants to start with pre-admission test scores and HS class standing as indicators of college success.  And I just die inside, and want to get him to actually understand that we don't do admissions, so we don't care about those indicators; we care about the human being we're trying to teach or advise.  We teach and advise any student who enters our class or office, because that's the way the university is set up.

What work stuff saps your energy?


  1. When the Vice Chancellor wants the department to change the position description of the position we need to hire to fit the description of a current instructor even though only one person in the department wants to see this person hired in a tenure-track position.

  2. When I have to submit a signed printout of the same final grades that I submitted online. When I have to do a multi-hour training event that is 95% the same training which I took [insert small number of years ago] because 5% of the regulation has changed and then do the entire exercise all over again because the records of my participating in the most recent update weren't properly recorded. When I'm told that our students are digital natives and we can't understand their intuitive use of technology because we're from the wrong generation. When my digital native students fail to navigate critical technology properly despite an in-class session on how to use the resource and an online walk-through to which they're pointed in the syllabus. Extra bonus points on the last for the student then blaming me in an email.

  3. Right now? When my colleagues are in a pitched battle (which I know way too much about because one of them has secretly forwarded me emails related to the pitched battle), and it takes up email time (the secret forwarded messages, plus "public" messages to the department listserv) and in-person time (whispered conversations, the need to call a meeting with my chair to "tattle" because I learned that a student was being put in a terrible position because of the conflict) and just mental time (what do I DO with all the information I have? Anything? Nothing? How do I stay out of it and yet try to put a stop to it?)

    Also, internal applications for money that I need to do my job, through various offices, which all have *just slightly different* requirements. Dude, we are one institution. Come up with some sort of a standard format and some sort of standard content.

    Student crises. I say clearly in my course policies that I don't need for them to tell me their business. This is not because I am unfeeling or uncaring. It's because I know that everybody has a story to tell around midterm, and how can I be the judge of the relative value of various crises? And yet, they still email. They still want me to know. Even if I read and don't respond, just the reading saps my energy. But I can't just NOT READ student email, so.

  4. Today we had to wait all morning in a big long line to get our pictures taken for new ID cards.

  5. Helping people with simple technology tasks, which they will not remember how to do 5 minutes after I leave. I will have to return in a few weeks to reteach said skills. There is usually no necessity for them to learn said skills, which makes it worse.