Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Trouble on the Horizon

Today is the first midterm. I feel nauseous. Who knew instructors had test anxiety?

I have been teaching long enough to have a sense of when the shit is probably going to hit the fan. Remember this chap? I realize it's a little early in the season to be airing a rerun, but I can't remember if I updated about him.

Nutshell: Didn't approach me at all when he finally showed up to class; I had to make an announcement asking him to see me. Never responded to my dissertation-length e-mail apologizing for MY thoughtlessness and groveling for him to forgive me and begging for him to let me help him get caught up on anything he missed. Also offered make-up opportunity for quiz he missed as well as extra credit.

As it turns out, he only read the e-mail "really quick," didn't see the syllabus attached - oh yeah, I did blog about this - sorry - he of the "Are you sure there was a syllabus attached?" and me of the, "I'm pretty sure because I wrote 'Attached you will find our syllabus;'" and he never took me up on the offer of a make-up quiz, although he did e-mail me about getting extra credit for some race. (He had the date wrong; I explained everything and never heard back from him. But that's typical. Apparently, electronic mentoring/support, etc., does not warrant a "thank you" - or so it would seem.)

Well, my dears, he showed up late last week which means he missed the quiz and then he LEFT during the break which means he missed an extra credit opportunity.

I am crossing my fingers, legs and ovaries praying that he does fairly well on the midterm. Because you know as well as I do that nothing shakes things up like a parent calling and complaining, and if his father is going to call when his kid can't find the room, imagine the fury that will be unleashed on me and every innocent bystander if Hap manages to fail the first exam. Where can I get my hands on a Haz-Mat suit, do you suppose?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

If parents start complaining, a reference to FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) might come handy: Just tell Dad that Federal law forbids you to discuss his son's marks, etc with him: Older than 18 or not at highsool means that only he (and not the family, only he (he is an "eligible" student) can have a look at his records.
The DOE website containing FERPA is

Good Luck!
PS: Hap senior might have a glance at the website, and conclude that he has a right to talk to you. You have to read it carefully: For students older than 18, or on an university, the parents are locked out.
PPS: Sorry for my English - I am 1.from overseas and 2. in a mathematical field, so twice handicapped...

October 09, 2006 5:29 PM  
Anonymous alyndabear said...

Am I being an overly cranky teacher myself, when I say that I hope he fails? Not for your sake, but for his. What a snot.

He's been a halfwit from day one, with getting dear old daddy involved. (I teach 6 year olds that have more independence than that)

Him not reading YOUR emails, him arriving late, him not staying for extra credit - all those opportunities were ones that YOU as his teacher provided, and HE ignored.

If the shit hits the fan? You're totally covered.

P.S. It still sucks though.

October 09, 2006 6:26 PM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

I'm also all about throwing FERPA in the parents' direction. Of course, given your department head's "advocation" for the students, I don't know how much good it'll do. Good luck. I'm about to pass back my students' first exams- most are good, but a couple of doozies! Did you know that the residents of Ancient India lived in pods?! Neither did I

October 09, 2006 7:02 PM  
Blogger Cara said...

This reminds me why I stopped TA'ing last year. I was just going to go ape shit crazy someday. I was also sick of the mercury spills and the airheads lighting their hair on fire "oh! hee hee! is that why I'm supposed to do a ponytail?"

It would be nice for him to reverse his cranial-rectal inversion and do well on the exam, but that's doubtful. FERPA all the way, baby. And vodka.

October 09, 2006 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Moobs said...

First time my students sat an exam that counted towards their degrees I was envigilating. I paced the rows more nervous than I had been during my own finals. I kept trying to will answers into people's heads by force of will.

It's a natural tendency to blame yourself for their failure that they are sometimes only too happy to exploit.

October 10, 2006 4:28 AM  
Blogger MizMell said...

Here's an idea for a sign for the classroom:
Lack of planning on your part DOES NOT necessitate an emergency on my part.

October 10, 2006 4:58 AM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

I would think that as long as you have documented the student's comings and goings/responses to your offering of makeup quizzes, then the parent should redirect his anger at his stupid child. But then again, nothing surprises me anymore.

October 10, 2006 11:26 AM  
Blogger Suzi said...

I know you are moderating, but I think I lost the comment when I changed users.

My recommendation would be to put all your experiences with the student into an email in order to have it ready when your administration comes down on you after the student flunks.

Or, if by some chance the dean might be swayable, get their first. As soon as the student fails, send the email with a "heads up," making sure that you identify all the dean did to help this student who then totally ignored all the dean's efforts. (Maybe that will help.)

October 10, 2006 12:31 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Gotta say, if it were me - and it's been me - I'd be crossing my fingers for him to fail. Just to make my point.

October 10, 2006 2:17 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

thought you might like this article in the Washington Post

October 10, 2006 2:34 PM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

I say go with the FERPA and run with it.
Also, don't you think that if we give them enough rope, they usually hang themselves? It sounds like he's been given lots of rope. Now, it's only a matter of time.

October 10, 2006 6:06 PM  
Anonymous BeckaJo said...

Although I would like to see him failbecause I'm nasty and mean that way, for your sake I hope he passes.

I'm not sure if it's a relief or more frightening to know that you, an experienced teacher, still gets nervous over tests. I give my second one on Friday. Eek!

October 10, 2006 7:54 PM  
Blogger benning said...

Be strong! Fail the idiot if you must!

Gad! How dumb are people getting?

October 19, 2006 1:27 PM  

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