Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Because I Can't Decide What to Write... A Hodgepodge

  1. Hmm.... I'm excited about things with the Chemist, though I think part of that excitement comes from the fact that he's in Big Midwestern City doing research for the week. Something about the fact that he's not here somehow makes the prospect of writing to him seem less weird. Tra la. Oh, and re: the idea of hating his name being shallow - of course it's shallow! If I were totally shallow I would have closed off communication with him on the basis of his name alone. I did not do so. See? I've got an open mind. But that doesn't mean that I've got to think that his parents had good judgment in choosing his name or be accepting of it. At least not in these very early stages. I mean, it's one thing if you love the person, as my reader does her husband "Frank." As I am not in love with the Chemist - indeed, never having met him - I think it's entirely appropriate for me to be judgmental about weird things like his name. (By the way, I'm giggling to myself as I write this, lest you all think I'm the most horrible person in the world. That said, see why I'm still single? It really takes a special person to deal with me.)
  2. In related news, I found out this weekend that my cousin who is 24 just got engaged (which means that the pressure on me will be even greater at the next family gathering, I suspect). My other cousin, who is 14 and who was gossiping about this with my mom, was astonished that I am older than the engaged cousin. Apparently, I am either really immature (most likely) or I look fantastic for my age.
  3. In somewhat related news, I somehow now have the distinction of being the only junior faculty person in my department that my colleagues fear will fly the coop. Why? Well, two of my cohort are married and both in t-t positions, so the likelihood of them leaving is like... zero. Another of my cohort took this job because both she and her husband are from the area and they want to raise their kids close to family, so they're not going anyplace either. Another was an adjunct here for like 10 years before he got the t-t position and is originally from the area, and so also is locked in. Another (my b.f. in the dept.) just bought a house, which makes everybody think that she plans to stay here forever. And the last two became a couple upon their arrival here and just moved into the house that they bought together. In other words, I am the lone non-home-owner in my cohort, and this makes all of my senior colleagues nervous. I'm not sure what to say about this, other than that I think it's probably for the best.
  4. In entirely unrelated news, welcome to all the new folks on the blog roll, and I'm still adding people so if you're not there yet you will be. By the way, readers should be sure to check some of these new additions out. There are a lot of grad student voices, in particular, and I think it's awesome that the grad student blogging community seems to be growing. Grad school can be so alienating (at least in my experience) and the support of the virtual world has got to be a good thing. Also, I'm glad so many grad students read this blog and that they get something out of it. God, that sounds so cheesy! But really, I'm glad that something I'm saying is interesting to them (you).
  5. Let's say that you have a student who has had like every horrible thing in the world happen to her this semester and has missed a ton of class. You feel bad for her, but you also want her to stop with the excuses, stop calling you, and just get her shit together. Is there any nice way to say that? Because I really do feel bad for the student, but I just do not want to deal with all of her reasons for missing class. I don't give excused absences, so why does she think I want to know? Ugh. I am so not a nurturing person. At least not to people who are adults and to whom I have no personal relationship.

I suppose that's all for now. Perhaps I will be able to do a more sensible post later? All of the academic writing I've been doing has really taken away from my ability to post on the blog. It's got to stop :)


ceresina said...

Do you really post blogs of readers? because I'm a reader, and I thought you were just joking in the previous post. I'd be proud to be on your blog roll.

Derrick said...

Re: Student...I say just tell her. I wonder what she will do if you respond to her as the adult people expect her to be.

gingajoy said...

well, remember, there was a time when husband "frank" was "that weird stalker guy "frank." (hehehe).

the student thing--hate it when that happens. i tend to give some slack if it's really a case of shit happening, but with very clear guidlelines over when work has to be handed in, etc. after that has passed, they are up shit creek. there's something about teaching writing and rhet that seems to breed a sense that we are more "personally" in tune with the students. (there's a whole lot of "let us save the students" rhet in the field, if you ask me).

CU Kate said...

Hey, thanks for adding me!

I actually have a student like that now, and am trying to figure out how to handle it. It's true that she has real problems, but at a certain point that becomes, well, not my problem. Sometimes in life we have to accept that circumstances won't allow us to do everything we want to, you know?

I guess I'm kind of a hardass, because when it comes down to it, I think that if you are enrolled in a class it's your responsibility to do what that class requires. I can cut a little slack, but only for a certain amount of time, and only so much.

To make things worse, after a few emails early in the semester explaining why she couldn't come to class, I didn't hear anything about what was going on with her until the week before break, well after the drop deadline. At this point, her options are to fail (or at least run the very high risk of failing) the class, or take an incomplete. She wants to do the latter, but I am not very keen on the idea of giving her an incomplete when she still has to make up half a semester of work. A final paper or exam is one thing, but this really seems to be crossing the line. I told her I'd think about it and get back to her.

Uh, sorry for dumping my issue on you, there. Clearly I'm still trying to gear up my courage to be firm. And it's not that I don't understand and sympathize with her problems, it's just--well, see above. Sigh.

(To make matters somewhat worse, I'm the TA and not the sole instructor. My supervisor has said it's entirely up to me, though--and if anything, is even less sympathetic than I am.)

Dena Marie said...

Dr.C -

I definitely know what you mean about needing "a special person to deal with me." I've been saying the same thing but in different terms: "I need to find someone who can *handle* me." It's sure been hard trying to find guys that good though. The cleverness in your blog shows me that we probably have the same problem -- our quick wit intimidates the hell out of men! (Let's face it; if we wanted to, we could eat them for dinner in a good argument. HA!)

As for the student with all the (legit or illegit) excuses, just remember that, sympathy or no, it all comes down to business at the end of the day. I too sympathize and provide leeway to a certain extent; but once the excuses and time/assignments missed passes a certain point, the issue has nothing to do with my sympathy or his/her circumstances. Just present the facts: "You've missed far too much class material and assignments to successfully complete the course, and I am past the acceptable limit of special concessions I can make for you. I'm sorry to hear of all that's happened in your life lately, but it may be time to consider dropping the course in the face of all of these circumstances." (or whatever course of action you feel would be in the student's best interest)

I hope this helps.


--Dena Marie

Psychobunny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anne said...

Thanks for blogrolling me--I'll return the favor shortly!

As for your student, I think there are really wonderful ways to sympathetically encourage withdrawal from the course. Often the deans can help with this--help, for example, to erase a course (or a semester) from the transcript or even secure a partial refund for someone whose life kind of explodes uncontrollably.

It depends: if the student CAN make up the work in a responsible way, then it makes sense to me to accomodate. If the excuses are becoming a habit, I think there's another lesson and here I'm with Dena Marie: you can be really sorry and kind and still insist that, having missed 30% of the class, she has to do pretty spectacularly on the remaining 70% (or whatever) to pass, etc.