Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Happy November!

I spent all weekend in grading jail, and now I'm out!  At least until Friday.

I gave midterms last week (in two different courses), and had several students not take them for a variety of health-ish reasons.  And because some of those involve time to get better, they weren't able to schedule makeups until this week, after I'd given back midterms in class and gone over them (I can't see making 20+ people wait to get midterms back because one or two people were ill).  So I had to write two new midterms.  And I'm willing to do that, and did it, and without complaining to the students, but dang, it's frustrating to have to write make up midterms.

I was talking to one of my colleagues about it, and he said it feels like we're having more students with mental health issues.  That may be.  Is that your experience?

Of course, we want students with mental health issues to get the help they need, to not feel stigmatized, and to succeed. 

But, for example, that means we have to write extra midterms, so it takes extra time.  And we're all already working more than 40 hours a week.  Where does the extra time come from? 

I guess the questions for me are:   are other folks seeing more students with mental health issues (and having those issues require additional work for instructors and such)?

How do you balance the additional needs of those students with all the other demands on your time?


  1. YES indeed. For the last couple of years. There are SO MANY of them.

    And we just... have to find the time somewhere. Because there is No Other Option according to the powers that be. Which is not good for MY mental health, but...

  2. Anonymous12:52 AM

    I'm in the UK and yes, we have had a HUGE increase in students with mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression. At my place, we've completely changed the way we do pastoral care as a result. It used to be 100% the responsibility of academics (we are each appointed a cohort of advisees - around 30 - per year), and frankly, it was a ton of work and we were bad at it, not being trained counselors. For the last several years we have had senior advisers, who are trained counselors and also academics, and to whom we refer students who need additional support. It is a godsend. It's reduced workload to such an amazing degree, it's just the best, and I think it is much better for the students, as well.

  3. we have "student success support workers" who have a similar role, and it does help on the advising front!

    On the assessment front, our (UK) system has fewer small pieces than the typical North American one. My uni strongly encourages that we have few, large pieces of work, and that anything resembling an exam which counts towards the grade only take place at the end of the semester. If a student can't take that exam, there is a pre-planned and programmed resit date. We all have to set two versions of any exam, one is used and one is kept in case there are resits (if there aren't, it can be reused the following year). But it's still bureaucratic and extra work!

  4. It's fascinating to learn how differently things work in other places! Thanks for responding!

  5. Yes! It's not the 'official' mental health disorders that cause me problems, but the unofficial 'i'm melting down in your office because i just can't' that are problematic. The 'official' ones have an office to which I route their test, and they are given various accomodations to make testing more successful for them. The unofficial ones need me to provide the accomodation, which requires time.

    I don't have a problem with helping these people, but as you say, what is the breaking point? We are seeing larger enrollments (I teach at a school where we advertise 22 students/class, but I have classes of 60-100 students/class with no grading or proctoring help). I can't be everything to everyone, but there is no end in sight!

    1. Yep, it's the difficulty of helping more students with more difficult life problems. I wish I could come up with a good answer!

  6. Anonymous10:09 AM

    My impression is that we are seeing more students with mental health problems. At my US institution, we do have support staff, but the faculty are the first line of support. And when students can't cope, that does involve a lot of work in the attempt to remain flexible for these students who do need help--it's rare that they are malingering. There isn't a systemic way to address but seems to be a growing and persistent problem.

  7. Yes, for us too. Been dealing with a student now hospitalized for the second time this week. . . Their lives are so hard.