Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Oops." Part the second.

Once the brimstone settled, a routine was established which added several layers of adminstrative bullshit and documentation. . I would show up and lecture. I would take attendance and issue warnings for non-attendance.(Eventually I added a sign-in sheet.) I would send reminder e-mails hither and yon. I would copy-furnish the Department Head and Dean on all communications. I met personally with Department Head and Dean once a week to update them in person.

Copies of amended syllabii, course calendars and assignment sheets -- at least 300 board-feet -- were actually air-dropped over the region.

The students continued to give no fucks. Many continued to actively sabotage themselves, me and other class members. In fact, as we (I) dug in, things actually got worse. Several of the students had become close, personal, intimate companions of the previous Authority (ha!) Figure, and were doing their best to disrupt proceedings.  At least one was acting as live-in "personal assistant/au pair." A few opportunists, sensing blood in the water,  got their parental units involved. There was a great deal of drama, rancorous e-mails and phone calls were exchanged, FERPA was invoked more than once. Several dozen extra meetings and a lot of antacid consumed.

Culpability was distributed far and wide. The students, for not reporting shit (though they felt they were amply "rewarded" with lack of work, lack of class time and  the guarantee of an easy A). The prof, for being a sleazy, amoral jackbag with the ethics of a sociopath. The Department Head, for not checking up. The Dean, for not "leading appropriately." Everyone was pissed at everyone else, and the fingers of blame were pointed, Mexican-standoff-style, in all directions.

In the middle were myself and the other prof who got tagged with remediation and completion. We were there to fix things so that 1) the students would not have to re-take one or two classes, and 2) that the uni would not have to cough up cash/let them re-take for free. I can honestly say that we had giant targets on our asses for students, parents and Admin alike, and yet were the only two people who really had no blame whatsoever in the sitch. We spent a lot of time commiserating, and regretting that we had answered the call to help.

The ventilation device, having been ramped to "wind tunnel," had been thoroughly doused in a dense, brown, odiferous substance with hints of corn and peanut. Repeatedly. It got to the point that I dreaded the drive to campus, walked to class as if I were headed to the firing squad, and left feeling like I'd been bludgeoned. Twice a week. Migraines and stomach ailments became de riguer. People kept asking me what was wrong or who had died. Family members crawled up my ass and pestered me to "cheer up!"

The hell of it was, all of this personally offended the shit out of me. See, as much as I bitch, I love my job. I like teaching and I like teaching English. I enjoy the writing process and explaining it to others. Usually, I like my students; watching them transform, become more articulate, better workers....it's what keeps me doing this despite shitty pay and very little Admin support. I actually care what happens to the little bastards. I want them to succeed -- graduate, get decent jobs and have good futures. What I am teaching them is, I believe, the foundation of that success.

I'm offended at the liberties the previous prof took.
I'm offended at the dereliction of duty to students and uni alike by several people.
I'm offended at the laissez-faire attitude towards responsibility by almost everyone involved.
I'm offended by the students' lack of give-a-shit.

Mostly, I'm pissed that it only took six weeks to make me seriously sit down and ask if this was something that I wanted to keep doing. I always told myself that when teaching got to be less fun and more work, I'd walk away before I burned out.

(Part the third tomorrow.)


  1. Reading stuff like this reminds me of why I was happy to be an instructor in the military. Students who blew the coursework off could be prosecuted for failure to obey a lawful order. And they knew if they flunked my course, they got to either start over from the beginning or be re-classified to much less desirable job.

  2. In a similar way, as a diving instructor, the students are happy to learn. The only real heartache is the ones that can't deal with it, they want to learn, but can't cope psychologically with being underwater and breathing. (Usually these give up in the pool sessions, before going into open water).

  3. On tenterhooks for part the third...

  4. It ain't about learning anything.

    It's about suckering students into making huge student loans, and giving the money to the University, while doing just enough to avoid losing accreditation.

    If the little idiot can't get work after they complete their basketweaving doctorates, it's no skin of their nose.

    Life in the "arts" ....

  5. Damn... this is NOT going well...

  6. Couple things.

    First, that completely sucks that a passionate instructor is questioning her desire to dispense knowledge. I hate that you are in the position to feel that way, and I am truly sorry you are going through that.

    Second - because there's nowhere else to mention it - I love the new background!


  7. It ain't about learning anything.

    It's about suckering students into making huge student loans, and giving the money to the University, while doing just enough to avoid losing accreditation.

    If the little idiot can't get work after they complete their basketweaving doctorates, it's no skin off of their nose.

    Life in the "arts" ....

    ( edited to insert missing adverb )

  8. I have a bad feeling about Part the Third...

  9. I had to take over a class once, and it proved the truth of "no good deed goes unpunished." I think this was a bad year all around. Sympathies.

    Next year will be better. We need good teachers, and you're one of them. Don't let the small percentage of bad apples rot your attitude.

  10. Nasty situation.

    May I suggest a nice summer retreat?

    Link: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/lifestyle/the-other-side/a-zombie-proof-house-thats-using-the-old-noodle/story-e6frfhk6-1226055405800

  11. I have had less than a year as a Teaching Assistant. I would have told them every day that if they didn't like the direction that class, and their lives were going, there was the door. If had read that crap in their books, they'd have to fight me, or my female counterpart. Of course as my course was police academy based, I could get away with this.


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