Tuesday, September 09, 2014

First Assignment Jitters

I handed out the assignment sheet for the first of four "big" assignments in my first year writing class.

The students are pretty anxious.  They kept asking about weirdly anxious stuff, like if they're in the hospital, can they email the assignment?

What if they're just really sick?

And so on.

I was reminded of an old George Carlin bit about a priest coming in and talking to a class about heavy mysteries, and the class having all these questions.  Carlin's specific example had to do with the need to do the Easter duty (take confession and mass for Easter), and what if you tried, but then this happened, or this happened, and so forth, ending with something about "but then you cross the international date line"!

I finally tried to make clear:  if someone's health or well-being is really at stake, then turn whatever it is in late.

If someone's just drunk or forgot to buy paper, then I'm not going to accept it.

It's hard, isn't it, figuring out what's what when you're entering a whole new situation!


  1. I had 1/8 of my class not turn in the first assignment, including one who skipped the first day of class and didn't know how to do the assignment. He was almost crying when he told me he wasn't turning it in (not that I asked, he volunteered). Homework is 50% of their grade, so this is not a good start.

  2. I've got juniors, but with a heavy proportion of transfers, and the questions are surprising similar (even as they're asking for less-detailed instructions, because the degree of detail I find necessary to keep 100 students in 4 hybrid -- half-online -- sections moving more or less smoothly through the class without my email inbox completely bogging down is, admittedly, a bit overwhelming, but I warned them about that in an email sent well before the first day of class).

    Some of it's plain old nervousness, I suspect, and some of it is too much experience with teachers who grade primarily by deducting points for not doing various things (in part, I suspect, because that sort of grading is more easily defensible to parents, administrators, et al.)