I really need to cultivate a greater sense of indifference to my students. It’s hard for me because I’m not inherently that kind of person. Also, I’m barely 5’2″ and look about 18 years old, so that really cuts down the intimidation factor a few notches. I like being known as the cool, accessible, supportive prof. However, I’m beginning to see that this is certainly doing them no favors, and it’s making me somewhat miserable.
Exhibit A: Even after giving them an extra 4 days on the rough drafts, I have seen a lot of incomplete, barely complete, and shoddy papers. It’s as if they don’t feel like they have to try hard or engage in my class. This means they likely aren’t getting much out of the class, and I have to sit around on a cold and dreary April day grading some abysmal papers. No matter how many times I tell them to use APA style, or to not use their textbook as a source, or to use in-text citations, it doesn’t sink in. I told them in class, I put it on a rubric (posted online), and I put it in a FAQ page I made for our course website. Still had an alarming number of people fail to do the basics of what I said to do.
Exhibit B: There’s the issue w/ late work. I’ve griped about this before, but I still don’t get their mentality. It’s on the syllabus and I have emphasized it in class: No late work accepted for any reason. When they e-mail me to ask if I’ll take a paper late, I just want to respond “RTFS.” The best ones are the ones who say, “I understand your policy, but…” No. No no no. If you understand my policy, then you aren’t going to bother me any further, are you? Yet everyone thinks he or she is a special case. Most of these special cases boil down to one problem: Time management. In their over-scheduled, un-self-regulated lives, they have no idea how to create and act on priorities. There is so little planning and foresight going on in their brains, and I find that frightening. Also, I’m not inclined to take on extra work and prolong my grading process simply because they don’t have their shit together. Whenever I reject a late assignment, I gently encourage them to take it as a learning experience. It doesn’t seem to sink in for a few of them.
I’m not going to be some hard-ass psycho hosebeast, but I do think I need to worry less about how much they like me and more about what I need to be teaching them for their own good. I can’t care about their learning and their grades more than they do. If they don’t care, they don’t care.