Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I am the devil

At least, that's what a few of my students are no doubt thinking right now.

But honestly, do they think I ENJOYED failing them? God no. Passing a student is much easier and less traumatic to all parties involved. But it would be absolutely irresponsible to do that.

Of the people who did not pass the class, I had a few very different reactions. One exploded at me, saying that the class was stupid, my assessment methods were unreasonable, no one else was looking for improvement as one of the criteria, that she was never taking this class again because it was a waste of her time... it went on. I showed her her objective score which was failing by all standards, but she went off in a huff before I could tell her that I was only looking for improvement as a last ditch effort to find a reason for her to pass. I didn't find it.

Another sat there quietly, turning red and then pale by turns. I wanted to pass her, I really did. And if grades were based purely on attendance and turning things in on time, then she would have had an A++. Sadly, I was more concerned with the writing quality and ability to revise and integrate information. In my syllabus, I state that students will not pass unless they participate meaningfully in the class. Not by any stretch of the imagination did she fulfil that requirement. But she just agreed with me, nodding, calm, and then went off to cry somewhere. (I know about the crying because another student told me.) I feel bad about this one, but she would have drowned in the next level. She's just not ready.

The last student listened to what I had to say as we looked over his final paper. He didn't bring any of his previous work with him as stated both in a handout, verbally, and online,(But I thought you had copies of all of it... No, I only made a copy of the paper you massively plagiarized.) and never completed the final essay because he missed the last day of class and evidently didn't check his email or the class webpage after that. I told him - three times - that there was no way I could give him credit based on the work that he had turned in, he just stared at me. Then he got up, muttered, "Whatever", and walked out.

Two students who had poor final papers, but who had clearly improved all term and who had been very active and commented intelligently during discussions, I gave a second chance. They have until Wednesday afternoon to rewrite the final paper and resubmit. If they fix the biggest errors, proving their ability to revise, they will pass.

However, I just heard today that one of those students self-mutilates to deal with stress, and evidently, she's been cutting. Some time last night, she was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and her bathroom was covered in blood. She cut more than she intended, it seems. Shit shit shit. Shit. I don't think she was stressed over my class, but I just feel sick. My other students said that they tried to visit but were turned away, or I'd see if I could go visit her. She's such a bright star of a person, but I know she's had a rough time getting to where she is.

This entry has kind of morphed here. I didn't start out planning to mention her. I'm just worried. And wishing I had finished the day with one of the students who thought I was great, instead of one who thinks I'm Satan. Shit.

No comments: