Top 10 Hate Crimes Against Professors

I was chatting with my best friend about how much I detest grading papers that are overwritten. I shared an example of a student’s paper whose first sentence was 3 lines long and contained 4 words with 5 syllables and 3 words with 4 syllables. What I actually said to her was: ‘It’s like she took an idea and beat it to death for the next 10 pages.’ My friend responded: ‘that’s a hate crime against professors.’  And it is. So I thought of other things students do that constitute hate crimes (because we hate it).

10. Saying you will come to office hours and then not showing. We have office hours because we are supposed to. BUT if we know students are not going to come to office hours, we spend that time working on other things. If a student happens to come, then we stop and speak with the student. If you tell me you are coming, I plan my office hours accordingly. When you don’t show, I want to require you to attend an event I know was canceled.

9. Using a laptop or cell phone during class. Uhmm hello…I have eyes. I can see that you are off task because you are staring at your crotch or smiling at your computer screen. Nothing about self-efficacy theory evokes thoughts of masturbation or girlish giggles. Put that crap away.

8. Being sick and touching everything in my office. Look, you’re lucky I let you come into my office with your hacking, sniffling, sneezing, heavy breathing self. Please do me the courtesy of NOT touching every item within reach. Just sit there—preferably while wearing a mask and gloves—and listen to what I’m saying. Then leave promptly so I can disinfect everything before the germs take root.

7.  Asking for extra credit. This is not middle school. You don’t have get out of jail free cards in college. If you didn’t do the assignment correctly the first time, why would you magically be able to do it now? No. I am not grading extra work because you chose not to follow directions. Please move on. And don’t pass Go, and don’t collect $200.

6. Sending emails after 8pm and expecting a response. You don’t respond to ANY email I send no matter what the time so why should I be expected to respond to your 11.29pm request for help with the paper due in 8 hours? If you send me another email that late at night, I’m going to send you a virus.

5. Plagiarism. This is just plain foolhardy. The same way you searched the internet for terrible things to copy, we can search the internet and find what awful document you copied. But most of the time, we don’t even have to do that. When you include sentences like ‘I use this term in the sense in which it is used in cybernetics, that is, in the sense of processes with feedback and with feedforward, of processes which regulate themselves by a progressive compensations of systems.”, I know you are plagiarizing Piaget. What the hell is cybernetics? You don’t know do you? Because you aren’t an engineer. And neither am I. The jig is up.

4. Asking for handouts for missed classes. YOU missed class. I was there. Why should I go out of my way to catch you up because you decided to go to your cousin’s best friend’s brother’s wedding in Oregon? I didn’t get an invitation to the wedding and you aren’t getting the handouts from class. See how it feels to be left out?

3. Unprofessional emails. If we have never met, please don’t address me by my first name. Because you are not my personal friend, you have no clue if I am married or not. Please do not default to Mrs. because I am a woman.  Though you don’t know my age, it is safe to assume that I am not your peer; therefore, please do not type your email as if I am your bff and we lol 2gether. I don’t care if YOLO. This is a place of business. Use proper diction and complete sentences.  Which leads me to….

2. Poorly written papers. This includes lack of organization, poor grammar, awful spelling, too short and too long papers, incorrectly formatted papers, off topic papers, papers you submitted in your last class with me, papers you submitted in my colleague’s class, hastily written, and poorly researched papers. If I have to read one more essay that begins ‘Since the beginning of time, man has…’ I am going to drop kick someone in the throat.

And the most offensive hate crime is….

1. Asking questions whose answers are ON THE SYLLABUS! I didn’t write that for my health. I wrote it so I wouldn’t have to tell 20 students individually where my office is, my office hours, when assignments are due, how many points assignments are worth, what the required texts are, the grading scale, attendance policy, or that I don’t accept late work. For the love of God, READ THE SYLLABUS!

 

hate crimes

44 comments on “Top 10 Hate Crimes Against Professors

  1. Jacob says:

    I will keep this in all of my class binders.

  2. bethcopelandd says:

    May I add number 11? Asking “Did I miss anything important?” after an absence. Uh, no. We just sat around twiddling our thumbs for 50 minutes. Of course, you missed something important!

    • Philosochick says:

      OMFG yes! I just got my umpteenth email this term from a student missing a class asking if they missed anything important, and if I could catch them up (in addition to the nicely detailed lectures slides that I post online). RAWR!

  3. Mark Sheldon says:

    Can I have an extension on the paper that is due in your class? I have other papers due the same time and I really want to do a good job on your paper!

  4. thenerdmom says:

    I am not a professor but that is so awesome and so true!!! Those students then grow up and go to organizational meeting with me. But 1 thing about the syllabus. More than 1/2 the professors I had handed out the syllabus and then did something completely different regarding homework, homework collection or grading. As a former student I remind all professors, you are writing the syllabus write what you actually want to do;).

    • You are so right. Professors need to adhere to their own policies. At my institution, we view syllabi as a contract between the students and the professor. If either party violates, the contract becomes null. It’s one of the reasons why I love that at my school we often rewrite the syllabus with our students on the first day of class so that they can have input into the contract.

  5. amack says:

    another favorite: “How many points do I need to pass?” or “How many pages/paragraphs does it have to be?” etc.

    Whatever happened to doing the best you can, rather than the barest minimum required to pass?

    • teachUSA says:

      Agreed– this one irks me. I want to say “Go back to middle school, learn algebra, and figure it out yourself.”

  6. [...] The top ten crimes (I won’t categorize them as hate crimes because that requires the perpetrators to actually have intent) against professors: [...]

  7. Erin Jaye says:

    This semester I received 3 new students during the 3rd week of the semester, and 2 in the fourth week. In an accelerated class.

    “Can you please email me the assignments I missed?” Um, you mean all 8 of them? No.

    “I feel totally lost, can I come to your office hours so you can help me with what you guys have covered?” Um, you mean give you a private lesson covering 8 hours of class? No.

    “I’m worried I’m going to drown in the class.” Um, you mean you realize the horrible judgment that lead you to add a foreign language class that covers two semesters of material in one, in the 3rd week of class? Here’s one floaty wing. Good luck.

    THANK YOU FOR THIS BLOG, IT IS PRICELESS. My office mates and I totes lol’d 2gether.

    • Lynn-Steven Johanson says:

      My favorite: “Is the test hard.” My answer: “I don’t know. I took it myself this morning and only missed two!” The looks on their faces are priceless.

    • J says:

      Does university policy allow them to add that late? If so, you must allow them to make up the work, given that they didn’t “miss” it. FYI, you also cannot count the days they were not enrolled as absences. Should you continue to violate this very common university policy, I would expect students to complain often about you…as well they should. I also question the professionalism of a “professor” who actually types “totes lol’d” without a hint of irony.

      • K. Epps says:

        Actually, it depends on the university. At our university, absences due to late enrollment count the same as absences from a student who enrolled but failed to attend. Check the college catalog if in doubt.

      • Linda Evans says:

        How did you miss the irony, Person Without an Apparent Sense of Humor??

  8. Kate Waits says:

    I was a professor for 30 years. Certainly most of these things happened to me and most of them irritated me, but I honestly don’t care for the tone of this piece.

    Students are young – they’re just learning appropriate behavior. I’d blame helicopter parents and their prior education – AND OTHER PROFESSORS AT YOUR INSTITUTION – more than the students.

    I was pretty firm about most of these things – but you ARE there to help – including helping them to learn about appropriate expectations of adults.

    And….we professors aren’t exactly perfect either. Think about THEIR list of the ways we irritate THEM. In my experience, many, MANY student complaints are legitimate. I presume the author is not perfect, so why should she be so condemnatory toward her students’ imperfections? At least they ARE young – what’s our excuse?

    And I’ve certainly heard professors ask questions ALL THE TIME about items that were included in materials we’d been sent. Weren’t WE supposed to read them? Are our excuses really any more worthy than the ones our students have?

    Maybe I’m way off here – but this just has such a nasty undertone to me. A little more humor, compassion, humility is in order, I think. All of us humans fail all the time. I have NO PROBEM with a teacher being strict; I was pretty hard-nosed myself. But great teachers are always BOTH demanding and nurturing. I find the latter lacking here.

    For what it’s worth, I simply disagree with # 10. I NEVER regarded a student’s statement that s/he was coming to office hours as a commitment. If that is your expectation, I think you should tell the student that. A separate appointment outside of office hours – yes, that is a commitment and should be kept. Further, I never really planned my office hours one way or another based on whether I expected a particular student to come by. And…with regard to #4 – I will point out that people (yes, including professors) ask ALL THE TIME for “handouts” they missed from the last committee meeting, etc. If your handouts are posted on a web page or something (which I certainly think they should be) – why not just remind the student of that?

    • Thank you for reading this post and taking the time to respond. It is unfortunate that you found this post to be ‘nasty’ when most of the readers got that this post was written in jest. In fact, many students have commented on the veracity of these statements and understand that I am not condemning students nor saying that professors don’t do the same. However, I would like to be clear that I do find it annoying and unacceptable when students (or anyone) do these things. As a teacher, I am not solely here to relay content to students. In fact, I see my larger responsibility as cultivating proper learning behaviors and a sense of professionalism. Yes, these students are ‘young’ (although I find it hard to use that as an excuse. I graduated college at 20 and was for more professional than many of my 22 year old students. In how many other countries do we excuse the behavior of 20 year olds because of their age? For that matter, why doesn’t the law do the same?), but they will soon be members of our workforce. Should they not experience being held accountable for their actions and responsible for their committments now? I do not blame parents or other professors. I put blame solely where it lies: with the individual. Their parents are not telling them to not show up at office hours when they’ve emailed saying they were coming at a specified time. Their other professors are not encouraging them to skip class and then ask the professor to have a private lesson with them to ‘catch them up’ (or maybe professors are doing that when they enable such behavior by providing handouts for missed classes). No, I am not here to baby my students and cover up for them when they have made poor decisions to skip class, not ask questions, not attend scheduled meetings, cheat on assignments, or anything else we’ve deemed ‘mistakes of the young’. The real world does not care about your age. And neither do I. You managed to get yourself into an elite private college. It is their responsibility to do what it takes to stay there. It is my responsibility to help them learn how to do so.

      • Windsurfer says:

        There’s a big difference between asking a question ABOUT something in a syllabus, or materials sent for a meeting and asking a question that is clearly answered in those materials. Students wanting to know your phone number (it’s in the syllabus), office hours (in the syllabus), point value of an assignment or test (in the syllabus), due date for the final project (in the syllabus) allowed number of excused absences (it’s in the syllabus) are too lazy to read the syllabus. Students wanting to clarify the format of an assignment (Do you require a Powerpoint for the presentation or can I use Prezi?) or clarify the class attendance policy (My internship company is holding its annual shareholders’ meeting at that time and my supervisor would like me to attend–can I write a summary of it and received an excused absence?) don’t annoy me at all. I’d rather they ask ahead of time than turn something in that’s poorly done and then say “I didn’t understand the assignment.”

      • Linda Evans says:

        As I was reading this hilarious post, I regarded it as helpful information that students really need to know to avoid making bad impressions on those who have the power of the gradebook. If they haven’t learned to be responsible before they reach our classrooms, why not teach them with a little humor as you have done here? I for one got several good laughs from this piece as well as a reassuring sense that I am not alone.

    • Bill Blass says:

      Hmmmmm….I wonder if you’re one of those helicopter parents? The reason our students act like they do is because they’ve had everything done for them and if something goes wrong, there is someone like you to jump in and make excuses for them.

      • SUNY side of the street says:

        She said she was a professor for 30 years. She is just more open to the idea that students are still learning to be adults and insulting them, as this piece does, is probably not the best way to help them grow.

      • Windsurfer says:

        You are so right. And I don’t think the tone of this piece was nasty at all–I found it humorous. Those who don’t (including the person who claims to have taught for 30 years) are probably Millennials or parents of a Millennial. Any kid who is 18 years old, legally able to vote and die for our country, should be old enough to take personal responsibility for their class work without having his or her hand held every step of the way.

        I refuse to answer any email asking me a question that is clearly answered in the syllabus. Now if they ask to clarify something in the syllabus (meaning they actually read it enough to think about it) I will respond to the email.

  9. Reblogged this on theotherclass and commented:

    My final post in this 3-day “Back to School” series is a simple list of things students do without realizing how offensive they are being. Again, this post was written in jest but the content is grounded in real life experiences.

    • Todd says:

      Don’t worry about people without a sense of humor. The research shows they will die before the rest of us anyway. Don’t worry about people who are easily offended, it is a way of gaining power in our society. If you tell a joke and a room of 100 laugh with you, you have a consensual form of power. But if one person in the corner says “I am offended by that” the room goes silent and we all bow to the power of the victim. It’s crap, but it is the only way some people believe their voices will be heard (and they do so desperately need to be heard). They have to turn to this form of power acquisition because their own ideas and words lack the merit to be voiced. I know several of them just guffawed and smacked their chops in discontent. But if they were busy trying to be creative (as you were), trying to find a way to make the day brighter (as you were), trying to open a dialogue about things that aren’t discussed so we can have a better world (as you clearly were), they wouldn’t feel the need to get their attention by trying to tear you down. Henny Youngmen (“take my wife, please”) joked about his wife for his entire career. Yet he and Sadie were married for over 60 years. She was able to understand that Henny was just making a joke. That seems to be a skill set lost in a society that glorifies, and bends over backwards for, victims. Don’t let humorless curmudgeons shoot down your creative work. We all know that it is a creative work they could not have accomplished because they can’t even understand that it is intended to be advice presented with humorous hyperbole.

      While I am at it I do believe the fact that you left out the helicopter parents who seem to be more than willing to call professors to discuss their child’s grades, ask for extra credit, or even offer a critique of your instructional methods or assessment tools, is a significant oversight. While I haven’t been a professor for over 30 years, I have managed to be a professor for over 25 years and I have seen the problems with helicopter parents (Blackhawk parents as they are sometimes called by the Admission Office) get worse. I have received calls from parents, I have talked to colleagues who have received calls and I have had students come in and say “Hey, my mom said she would call and straighten out my grade problem. Did you guys work that out, are we cool now?” I have known faculty members to be called in to the Dept. Chair and/or Dean’s office because a parent complained about an instructional practice, example used in class, or assessment tool that was too rigorous (at a selective institution). I still laugh about the Dean who received a call from an outraged parent who said the religous school his daughter was attending had turned his daughter into a lesbian (because of a human sexuality class she took). We have worked so hard to provide opportunities for students to succeed that we have forgotten that failure is sometimes the best teacher on campus. Failure motivates us to be better, not because we want a better grade, but because we don’t want to be failures. Too many safety nets negate the needs for preventative measures (like studying and proofreading). Add helecopter parents to the list of hate-crime committers. While you are at it, add people without a sense of humor to the list. Just because college faculty have difficult jobs that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun doing them. Just because they don’t have a sense of humor doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t get to laugh. They live in a sad world and that is enough punishment for them, but there is no reason we should be made to feel like we are bad people for seeing the fun in our world.

      • Thank you for this wonderful show of support. Writing this list of ‘offenses’ did indeed start as a joke between my best friend and I. Yes, I did choose to upload it on my blog for public consumption but never anticipated this amount of response (this blog post has had thousands–actually closer to 10k hits). I wonder sometimes if those who critique my sense of humor have read any of my other posts about the failing state of education in this country; the terrible educational policies guiding the functioning of our largest social institution; about the children/students who suffer on a daily basis because they sit in classrooms, homes and neighborhoods surrounded by adults who refuse to find the humor in the things we are fighting to change. My guess would be that no, most visitors to this post did not take the time to read any of the other 76 posts borne of my passion to help create an equitable and democratic education system.
        Thanks again for reading and writing. :-)

  10. Hate crimes is a bit much. A hate crime against a professor is going to school with a gun and intimidating your instructor or worse, shooting up the classroom. These are just normal things that students do. Calling it a “hate crime” may seem funny but it makes light of the actual things that a professor might endure (or not) from a student.

    • Thank you for your comment. I am actually surprised you are the first person to take issue with the use of the phrase “hate crime”. Perhaps other readers understood that I was describing things professors hate, not actual incidents of hate crimes. Students not showing up to office hours is far from bringing a gun to school or using inflammatory language (though the latter often happens in classrooms) and I did not intend to compare the two. Thank you for reading.

    • Doug says:

      Oh, puh-leez.

  11. Karen L. Cox says:

    I appreciate this post. It’s humor, but the problems are very real. Just today I had a student email me about something he had forgotten to write down–there were tons of resources available online–and pitched a fit when I said I’m not his secretary and he’d have to figure this one out on his own. There is such entitlement out there that I worry for the future of our workforce.

  12. Erika says:

    I once got in trouble in a psychology class I was taking for signing VERY LOUDLY (OK, I didn’t just sigh, I said, “are you KIDDING?!” at a student in the front row who asked what the professor’s contact information was. Not only was it on the syllabus, but the professor read. it. to.us.

  13. SUNY side of the street says:

    I agree that a hate crime is actually something quite severe, and most of these petty torments are part of the cost of doing business. I also take issue with your “place of business” analogy. If this is indeed a place of business, and you are a provider of a service, why is it so offensive that a student who leaves for an event (the convoluted cousin wedding example) and expects to make up work in a course for which they are paying? They would be able to make up work at the office in most cases, or could arrange a way to get work done. I suppose your class is special.

    You sound like someone frustrated by your occupation and the relatively mild issues that arise when dealing with students. You work indoors, you have significant time to pursue your own research interests, and yet you complain about the relative lack of comity in your classroom, and brag about the alacrity with which you skewer student hypocrisy. Pedantic and jejune is no way to go through life. I have very little sympathy for you and your list of grievances.

    • Thank you for reading this post. Have you taken the time to read any of my other posts? If so, I hope it is very clear that I LOVE what I do and I CHOSE this path. Being a professor is not something one falls into without knowing they will have one or two students per class who don’t read the syllabus, don’t follow instructions or who aren’t taking their investment in their education seriously. And indeed this is an investment. At 56k a year students SHOULD treat their education like a business investment. If they pay 225k for a house I would hope they wouldn’t neglect its upkeep and expect someone else to take time away from their own investments to pick up the slack while said student is off enjoying a wedding. It is not my job to keep your house in pristine shape; it is my job to provide you with an array of homes from which to choose. Which house they choose and what they do with it is just that–their choice. I am trying to prepare them to be responsible, informed and productive people. If that requires them experiencing consequences for their actions, then so be it. I’d rather they have the consequence of a zero on an assignment than a foreclosure on a home they neglected to maintain because hey–there were more fun things to be doing.

    • Todd says:

      Oh my, I don’t know who started this idea that Higher Education is a service industry because it is just not. It never has been and it never will be a service industry. Only a self-centered, egocentric generation fueled by helicopter parents could have convinced themselves that the institution exists to service them. It is just a falsehood. It is a falsehood that is resulting in tremendously increased tuition. Take a moment and think what this mentality is doing. The new buildings going up on campuses aren’t classroom buildings they are students centers, rec centers and dorms. These buildings have been labeled Club Ed by some publications because they are lavish compared to what students had before we decided higher education was a service industry. Rarely will a campus tour include a visit to a lab doing cutting edge research but they will make sure they walk you past the climbing wall, hot tub and newest “food stationed” dining hall. Dorms could have used a face lift for many years but now instead of dorm rooms students are getting town homes owned by the schools.

      Look, higher education, lest we forget our purpose, is a production facility. We produce educated minds. The student isn’t our consumer, the business world (health care, government, educational institutions, and nonprofits all included) are the consumer. If we are a service industry why are Ivy League educations more expensive than schools with rock climbing walls, hot tubs, and sushi bars? They cost more because the have held to a tradition of rigorous education. It is the rare student today who wants to be pushed hard and wants to be held to a rigorous assessment standard. Recent research conducted interviews with this generation of students and found that they believe if, half way through the term, their grades are not what they would like, they should be able to “hit the reset button” on their grade and start again. Just forget all the things they didn’t do well or didn’t do at all and take the new and improved higher grades they may or may not get in the next six weeks.

      The idea that education is a service industry has already crippled the public secondary education system. Nearly all high schools have stopped teaching grammar because it is not fun to learn. Now you learn to write well by reading great literature. Unfortunately many of the great works they read (Shakespeare and Mark Twain for example) do not write in a manner consistent with modern American English standards. Too many kids weren’t winning enough at recess so we stopped having recess (despite the voluminous research professing its critical role in education), Dodge ball was too aggressive, exercising and showering in front of peers was too embarrassing for some, so Physical Education classes became a thing of the past at many (if not most) schools. Meanwhile, we suffer an obesity epidemic among our children and we can’t understand why. The vast majority of the space for any high school is devoted to spectator sports (that “service” the community). The litany of examples is virtually endless: grade inflation, rampant academic dishonesty, school districts banning homework, prohibiting teachers from failing students, encouraging struggling students to stay home on state assessment days, multiple high school teachers and administrators being caught cheating on state tests, parents and students demanding extra credit so their students can get the grades they “deserve,” teachers unable to discipline students and the subsequent bullying plague, academic doping for the ACT/SAT, students disrespecting teachers, students making games out of trying to sleep with teachers, and we are just hitting the highlights that we read about in the papers. If you have high school students in your family ask them what it is like.

      Colleges and universities are given the charge of producing educated minds. They are to create critical thinkers (while most graduates can’t even define critical thinking and confuse it with creative thinking), students want to be rewarded for thinking outside the box when they don’t even understand what’s in the box. Oh and most of the time their out of the box thinking yields an nonviable end result. Professors are there to push them to learn more, to insist they learn a base knowledge, and to help facilitate individual exploration among the students who express initiative. They are not there to “service” the students. If that were it, if that were truly “it”, students would spend four years traveling to other countries, eating food from different cultures, meeting friends, attending sporting events, going to parties, and doing all the non-education related things they do now. Then at the end of four or five years we would give them a beautifully framed diploma and a transcript that says they earned a 4.25 on a 4.0 scale. If you think there is nothing wrong with that then yes, higher education is a service industry. But if you think that is ridiculous because then they won’t be prepared for the work world when they enter it, then you are admitting that colleges and universities are producing educated minds and that means they are production facilities. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that colleges are there to serve the students because this is one customer who isn’t always right. They aren’t right because they lack the education and experience to know what they need. They arrogantly believe they are ready to be hired into management level positions right out of college and should be upper level managers making in excess of $150K within five years. They can tell you what they want but are clueless about what they need. That is why colleges and universities have required classes. Because we know what it takes to produce an educated mind. That’s what we do, it is what we have been doing for hundreds of years, we produce educated minds.

    • DaRuckus says:

      Them trolls gonna troll.

  14. Marty says:

    Man, You need a glass of wine!

  15. dyssebeia says:

    As someone who has just begun TA-ing a college class (as in I taught my first sections today) and who has already experienced one of these hate crimes, I have to say that, a priori at least, I disagree with your placement of the top 2. I think that essays beginning with “since the beginning of time” (or any equivalent) are the worst things that will happen to me. I plan on telling people very explicitly that I will take points off for it, and still I know I’ll get them.

    But I defer to the fact that you have probably a couple thousand times more experience than I do. It’s fully possible that I will change my mind.

  16. Edik says:

    Love this. And don’t forget about stupid questions, because, despite what we’re taught in 4th grade, there IS such a thing as a stupid question. One of the stupidest is when you ask a question that I just answered — Me: “Your essay needs to be typed and submitted as an attachment to an email.” Student: “Do we have to type this?”

  17. PapillonLo says:

    Overall, I thought this post was a really fun read! I especially love #9; it’s so obvious when a student is on their phone. It’s more than possible that every student and teacher can call upon a moment when they’ve come into contact with one of these errors.

    With that being said, I have one comment for clarification. If a student was to miss a class, due to to an illness or a wedding of a close friend or relative, would you be willing to allow them to make up the work? I can appreciate the fact that an education is an investment, and should be taken seriously, but I don’t think taking care of one’s health, or missing one class to be a part of someone’s big life moment insinuates that a student in not dedicated to his or her education.

    This is not so much a critique on your article, but more on the attitude that persists in academia today, which insinuates that a student’s well-being is less important than class. I know some people will argue that school is preparing a student for reality and to be a responsible employee, but even employees get to have sick days and ask for time off for weddings.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and post a comment. I completely agree that missing a class or two is not indicative of a students’ desire or motivation to learn. As a psychologist I would never make such a causal statement. My post is referring to students who are perpetually absent and do not take the initiative to recover missed material. If students miss class because of illness it is College policy for them to bring a medical note (and for them to make up work within 2 days); however, I don’t take attendance and if a student misses, that is fine (there is no grade or points associated with attendance). I only ask that they email me as soon as possible relaying their absence so I can plan class activities accordingly. As for going to weddings, I do not consider that a reason to miss class when said person is not a close family or friend but honestly I don’t care why my students miss class. Often I do not even know why they are absent. Communicating that information is up to them because at the end of the day, a missed class is a missed class regardless of your whereabouts. I tell them on the first day that it is my job to provide learning opportunities and it is their choice to take advantage of them or not. Regardless of their choice, I will be in class every day.

  18. rachel says:

    While I agree that a lot of these behaviors are out of line, I feel the response to #4 is ridiculous, even if it is slightly in jest. If we’re talking about paper handouts, it seems likely that you would already have printed out the copies for the student who was absent on the day you gave the papers out to the class. I can’t imagine it’s that difficult to bring those papers to the next class session (or to request that the student come pick them up from your office). People take sick days or personal days in the working world all the time, and I can’t imagine any boss would withhold such easy to relay information from someone when he/she returned to work. Would anyone seriously say “sorry, you can’t have the quarterly budget report because you chose to stay home yesterday and I’m not convinced you were really sick?” Usually a class has an absence policy–as long as a student falls within the allowable window of absences, I don’t think it’s the professor’s job to police what the students are doing with their time away and decide whether or not that student should be given pertinent information about the class based on a personal assessment of whether the student “should” or “shouldn’t” have missed class.

    • Hi Rachel. You are very correct in that it is not a professor’s job to police students’ whereabouts. As I indicated in my response to PapillonLo, I often do not know why students are absent and I don’t ask. Their location is irrelevant to what happens in the classroom. If a student misses class because of medical reasons and provides the required documentation as required by College policy, I of course give them any handouts or missed materials, but I do NOT recreate the 3 hour lesson for them. My college is all about discussion so there are no lecture notes or powerpoint slides to be shared. Guided by dialogic teaching methods, students in my courses use one another as teachers and sources of information. You can imagine that no matter the reason for being absent, I can’t recreate 3 hours of missed discussion.
      In the event there are handouts and the student was not there to receive their handout, I am merely saying that I am not going out of my way to bring anything to you. You may come to my office and request those materials but if you do not request them, I don’t feel inclined to remind you to ask for materials you missed. To be completely honest, the handouts I give in classes are tied to class activities so they are often useless if one has not participated in the activity.

  19. Gary Hurd says:

    I had the occasional “sweet young thing” come to my office, or lab and explain that she just HAD to get an A. The follow-up was that she wanted to know if there was anything she could do. Anything.

    I would always say that she needed to start turning in homework. “She” would always look at me like I was the jerk, and then drop the class.

    • Todd says:

      I am just loving these responses. On the first day of classes I run through the syllabus and when we are finished covering what the graded assignments are and the expectations for them I pause and say “Now some of you will probably come into my office in the last week of school asking for extra credit because you are not happy with your grade.” Ears perk up and I now have their attention because I am going to give things away for free, free points, free grades. Then I say, “What I will tell you is this, the easiest way for you to increase your grade at this point is to build a time machine, travel back in time, pull yourself aside after this class and tell yourself not to screw around all semester and to turn your work in on time, to the standards established in the syllabus, and with a due amount of thought and consideration. Or you can just take my word for it now because that is the only way to get the grade you want: to do the quality of work I have described in your syllabus.” Yep, I’m that guy. Even with all of that and them thinking ill of me on day one for not understanding how important their grades are, I will still get a handful in the last week or two who come around sniffing for extra credit to get the grade the want. Last year I had a young woman email me after grades were posted asking if I couldn’t just bump her grade up just 21 points so she could get an A-. That’s all just 21 points. Please! Here’s the thing, I am not heartless and my subject matter is somewhat subjective so if students are close to the next higher grade and I remember seeing them attend class on a regular basis and I think they have contributed to class discussions in a meaningful way, I am not at all opposed to bumping them up a few points. Which is what I did for her so she could get the B+ she received. She was at the lowest possible points for a B+ and wanted to know if I couldn’t just give her all the points she needed for the next highest grade. I am pretty sure that an identical email went out to all of her professors. Hey, why not ask, you already don’t have the grade and you might be able to get more than you deserve. Where is the harm in that? That is the way of the world right?

  20. Stacy says:

    Thanks for writing this! And thanks to those who commented — I enjoyed the perspective. I graduated with a business degree at the typical age of 22. Now, at almost 26, I’m taking classes for grad school degree — in the medical field. It’s safe to say, I was completely lost during my 1st two years of college, or I’d have chosen a science degree. My small public high school (I had 22 classmates) prepared no one. I made many mistakes, had a few professors who took the time to mold me, & had some who took no excuses whatsoever. I am eternally grateful for both. There was much to learn from all, & I wouldn’t be where I am without that balance.

    I think it takes a very special person to be a professor — traditional college students are unbearable! (I have little experience from your side of the podium, but I did manage to drag myself from the bottom of the totem pole of habits & wisdom to one of the top 20 students — as chosen by professors — at my alma mater. As a result, our ever-invested VP of student affairs, who saw me at both my worst & best, asked me to team up with her & a professor to teach a freshmen course. I enjoyed myself, but my respect for professors’ patience & professionalism grew tenfold.) This is why I hope I have enough credit to give you all the praise you deserve yet rarely see… I can promise that each of you who care (in whichever way you choose to show it) will impact your students for the better. Thank you from every parent, frustrated friend, or worried family member… You are in a position to mold us in a manner & stage in which few can. Young adults are so stubborn & blindly arrogant!

    I don’t mean to prattle (Ah, & I apologize for being one of those students who write too much. I enjoy writing! “Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic,” but I’ll work on my losing-battle with brevity.), but I wanted you all to know that we remember & appreciate you — even if you think we hate you at the time :) We needed the discipline, humility, & respect — among other things. Thank you to the “scary” professors, who were most often my favorites (btw, office hours are my favorite! It lets you see one another as human beings rather than “shameless twit” or “sadistic ruler,” & I rather like seeing you as people! Just as I like you to have an understanding of me as a human. I don’t want to hate-drown someone out during lecture simply because I dislike something she said — all due to not having enough of an understanding of her nature & intention. I’ve found this understanding makes me like yet respect others more, making me want to work even harder.)

    Good Lord, so much for attempting to avoid the Hate Crime length — sorry :( I just wanted to say you’re all right. No one professor should be the same, so long as (s)he cares about what (s)he does. The sum of all these professors’ buffing out of imperfections results in a well-rounded student. So again, thank you to the “scary” professors who care more than we realize (I assure you, if we don’t realize it mid-semester during an office visit, we realize it later on when praised for good habits we learned in your class) & to the kind professors who are like that grandparent you never want to cross: passionate, understanding (we appreciate your “parenting” more than you will ever know, as many of us may have never been cared for in that way), yet authoritative. You kindly ones will always have a special place in our hearts.

    You all obviously love & care about what you do/did, so there is no need to argue about different mentalities :) Whether due to a gap in demographics or field of study, your differences are imperative.

    Thanks for the laugh — I like seeing this side of professors! Plus, I wanted to wring the necks of students who dared bring out a phone during any of my lectures. Bless you all for your patience!! Sorry for the length, & have a good semester!

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