Monday, December 11, 2006

A Deficit of Patience Today

We've started our final week of classes.

My writing students had an important (well, I think it's important or I wouldn't have assigned it) assignment due today. And of course, one of them said right off that she'd forgotten to do hers, and could she turn it in during office hours. I relented and said that was okay. Then someone else said she'd forgotten hers at home, and could she bring it. Minimal fairness means I accept that.

So three other people have brought theirs in late, too. They didn't bother to ask, just assumed. Blah. I should have just said, "no, suck it up." I'm such a bleeping idiot.

(I need to remind myself that forgetting an assignment isn't about me, or disrespecting me. It's about the time of the semester, being a first year college student, impending finals, overwhelming assignments. Deep breath, Bardiac.)

The one that irritated me most brought her boyfriend's assignment in, too, saying only, "here's my assignment." She'd tucked her boyfriend's paper underneath hers.

If there's a stereotypical way to play the subordinate female in a het' relationship, she's been displaying it all semester. I want to shake her and say, "you'd better be on birth control!"

The room has table seating, all arranged in a circle so there's a big empty space in the center, and you can see everyone really well. This couple didn't seem to realize that the seating provided no privacy. At least I hope they didn't intend for me to see them fondling each others' legs.

I finally called their behavior inappropriate in class one day when she nuzzled his neck, my words prompted as much by their classmates' looks of irritation as my own. At my next office hours, the young man came in to say how mean he thought I was to embarrass them. I added that I'd appreciate it if they'd quit rubbing each others' legs under the table. I'm VERY pleased that they did quit the fondling, but she's still playing the subordinate thing to the hilt.

I want to shake them and say, "YAY, you've discovered SEX! No human being before you realized how fun touching someone else's body could be! Get over it."

Surprising as this may be, I've never actually grabbed and shaken anyone. Only in my fantasies.

I've managed to control my patience today (visibly, at least, I hope) with the students who've come back three times for me to look at their papers again. The first time was great. The second was okay. The third... well, it would have helped if she'd made the changes we talked about the first time by now. Mostly, though, they've improved their papers dramatically and I shouldn't be impatient. But I still am.

And, I just got a nice emailed thank you for the help I gave a student with her paper earlier today.

I take everything I said back!! Do-over!


  1. Anonymous2:28 PM

    I used to be a sucker for taking late papers until I started thinking about how unfair it is to the students who bothered to turn their work in on time.

    Once I really internalized that notion, I started telling students who try to turn in late papers to hold on to them until we can talk in my office. Then, I give them a gentle tongue lashing in private.

    Making the students wait until my office hours gives me time to decide if I want to accept their late work, and it makes them sweat and wonder if I'm going to take their work.

  2. Late papers: I'm a sucker because I really hate deadlines myself, but my solution these days is to accept late papers, but telling the student that I'll grade it when I have time.

    Nuzzling, etc: I had two young women in a class this semester who consistently would put their heads together & giggle. This wasn't sexual, as far as I could tell, just immature. Too often, I let this sort of thing slide. Finally, one day, I found myself really distracted by their antics & just stopped the class dead by snapping, "Hey! Stuff it you two!" After a moment of silence -- Wow, he's usually such a mellow hippie -- we got back to work. The rest of the students in the class were gratified & I didn't have any more problems with the gigglers.

  3. I don't accept anything late (I am a bastard) and I can't image students nuzzling in my class. Or having the brass to come to office hours to complain!! Lord!!

  4. If it wrecks your schedule ask anyone who is going to be late with a paper to give you 24hrs written warning, or they get an automatic 'fail'. Wear scarey boots whilst telling them and give them your darkest glare.

    Mutual grooming is inappropriate in class unless you are one of the *lower* primates. Save it for lunch time.

    Out of class, its different. Many years ago our college principal stormed into the main hall where we spent our lunch hour chatting before the afternoon torture session. He happened upon 2 students engaged in a private snogging session and dragged them off for punishment. He was universally hated by all for the remainder of our time there. In that case it was him overstepping the line, in a blatant affront to Cupid.