Monthly Archives: March 2007

Proof That I am NOT a Heartless Bitch of a Teacher

I have a student who, as a result of a lot of extenuating circumstances in her life, has had significant trouble keeping up with the assignments in our composition class.

She came to me about two weeks ago – right around progress report time – to tell me that she was aware that she was in trouble but that she thought she could pull herself out of it. She was up-front and honest about her shortcomings and was COMPLETELY accepting of her responsibilities. She wasn’t asking me to let her off easy – she’s entirely willing to do anything I ask her to do to pass the class. It was refreshing to deal with her, and I’m more than happy to work with students like her:

Dear Jeanne:

I know I said we could talk today after class, and I’m sorry that my
meeting with my department head took so much longer than I thought it
would (I hoped that you’d still be in the room when I got back, but
totally understand why you weren’t).

How would you like to handle finishing this course? The way I see it,
we have two options: we can either submit a request for an
“incomplete,” which will give you an extension for finishing the work,
or you can jam on the assignments and finish them by the last official
day of class (which, if I’m not mistaken, is the 22nd, but I’m not sure
I’ll make us meet that day) and not have to worry about it beyond that.
Which would you prefer?

I’m thinking that what I want to give you to do will be completely
manageable for you in the time we have left, but that’s me assuming
that you don’t have a ton of other work to do for the rest of the
classes in your schedule. I have the utmost confidence in your writing
skills, and would pass you as it stands now if it weren’t for the fact
that you’ve missed quite a few assignments. The work I’ll give you
will likely just be the assignments that you haven’t completed – along
with a few quick-writes – certainly nothing overly intense or taxing.

Let me know how you want to handle it – whatever is best for you is
what I want, too. I’m invested in seeing you succeed.


-Mrs. Chili

I have every confidence that she’s going to do just fine, and I’ll be able to take one F off of my grade book.


Filed under Teaching

Good Writing

As per Wayfarer‘s request, I give you an example of good writing from one of my students.

This was done in response to a quick-write assignment asking that the students describe something.  This student, who has proclaimed loudly and often that she hates this class and sees no point in it (this post was about her), has turned in almost nothing noteworthy all term.  For her, this piece represents an outstanding effort:

From the time that I was born until I was fourteen years old, I lived in Carson, KY.  I lived in a nice little neighborhood where there were plenty of children my age to play with.  There were hardly any homes with gates in their back yards, so the whole neighborhood was our playground.

My house was a simple, brown cape and my mother loved to garden.  We had all different types of trees, flowers and shrubs.  My mother even tried to grow a cherry tree in our front yard.  It was just a stick in the ground with a couple of small branches at the top.  The neighbors’ dog, Woodie, dug it up and ran down the street with it.

During the summer, the kids on my street would go riding our bikes, playing flashlight tag, basketball and all other sorts of fun things.  A lot of the times, my neighbor’s father would come home from a long day at work and then take all the kids out for ice cream.  All of the kids were really close, and we still keep in contact today


Filed under about writing, success!, Teaching

In Lieu of Grammar Wednesday…

…I give you a sampling of some of the lines from my students’ research papers:

Farmers shove cows all together and fill yards as packed as they can just so they can make more meat product.  They also feed them cheap ground corn that is very unnatural for cows because cows normally eat grass, so feeding them corn is just fattening them and making it so they don’t have to pay as much.


Snow mobiles and mountain bikes ar not as bad for the enviornment as the other ATVs.  The article says that since snow mobiles run on the show the do very little damage to the soil or ecco system.  Running on the show saves the roots and the soil around the roots a lot of damage.


People have tried very hard to prove that aspartame is somehow linked to brain tumors, but the Food and Drug Administration will not back down from their original approval.  Europe has shown a possibility in formaldehyde in the brain, which the FDA admitted that this may happen.


Megadeth is more than just a band.  They were activists, enviornmentalists, politicians and Wild men all wrapped up in one.  Megadeth was music with a purpose.  Every song tells its own story about be it extinction of species, to political agendas, stretching as far as songs about what it feels like to lose the one you care about most.


Most people hate farmed fish they say it’s bland and is full of chemicals and is bad for you and the planet but I say there wrong.  The U.S. currently dose not have a standard for organically raised fish, so if you see organic and its salmon it is most likely from another country where the restrictions are easer and cost is a lot cheaper but it is a lot better than Atlantic farmed salmon.


When using eggs they should always be cold.  If a recipe calls for room temperature egg whites it is necessary to separate the eggs while they are cold.  Any baked products that need flavor, richness, moiture, or color eggs are put into a recipe.


Located in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Most likely haunted by a poltergeist or noisy spirit.  Like many other haunted places, noises are heard when no one is around, lights turn off and on when the house is empty, there have been reports of moving objects, banging doors, foot steps, and cold spots.


Soon after the succes of The French Laundry Thomas Keller and his brother Joseph Keller (currently owner/chef at Joseph’s in Las Vegas) opened Bouchon in 1998.  This new restaurant located just a few streets down, it served moderately price French bistro fare, which the Bouchon Bakery opened next door. 

I swear on my favorite anthologies; I’m not making ANY of this up…..


Filed under Uncategorized

Outside Confirmation

I collected (most of) the research papers from my Monday class yesterday and, while this morning’s class was deeply engaged in a grammar and comma quiz, I began the task of reading and grading them.

testpanic.jpegMy experience with the Monday kids has taught me that my expectations should be very low.  Sadly, not only have I not been disappointed, but I’ve had to readjust a bit to accommodate the reality of what the students submitted.

After about the fourth paper, I knew it was time to call in reinforcements.  Organic Mama is also an English teacher (and a fine one, at that) and has a wealth of experience as an editor; she is the first person I go to when I need to do a reality-check on my standards or my grading performance.  Fortunately, she had invited my chicklets and me to dinner at her place tonight, so I brought my paper-filled briefcase along.

I gave Mama a paper that I hadn’t read yet – one that happened to be from one of the strongest students in the class – and asked her to read it.  She couldn’t mark or edit it (which made her a little crazy) because I didn’t want her corrections influencing my reading of the paper.  My idea was that we would both read the student’s work, assess it based on the rubric I’d created, then compare notes.

When it was all over, we came to damned near the same grade for this representative paper.  She graded a little harder on one standard than I did, and I graded a little harder on one standard than she did, but we were dead-on with everything else.

This tells me two things.  The first thing this tells me is that I am being neither overly lenient nor overly harsh in my grading standards.  I’ve gotten confirmation from Mama that I’m looking at the papers in a balanced and considered way.

The second thing it tells me is that I am not being an unreasonable, irrational bitch when I say that these papers objectively suck.

1 Comment

Filed under about writing, concerns, General Griping, Learning, Teaching

Bet You’ve Never Heard THIS One Before…

Mrs. Chili, I wasn’t able to print my research paper, which is due today, I know, because, well, my flash drive was in my pocket, right?  And we were working with chicken this morning, and I poured chicken blood all down the front of me, and it got in my pocket and all over my flash drive and now it won’t work.  The paper isn’t on my computer anymore because my computer keeps crashing, so I can’t email it to you,* but I can probably get it to you by the end of the week.

(*which I would have accepted, depsite my insistence that the paper be printed, because it would have at least proven to me that he’d actually finished the paper before the deadline)

All delivered with a perfectly straight face.   I am very much looking forward to the last day of this term…


Filed under General Griping

What’s Special About Today?

It is the only date which is also a command:

“March Fo(u)rth!”



Filed under little bits of nothingness


As I’m sure YOU all know by now – even if my students don’t – my homework deadline for the hybrid class is 6 p.m. on Sunday.  At about 7 p.m. (allowing time for servers that only send out email in batches), I gather up the assignments that were sent to me, mark the grades in my log, then sign on to the college’s website to take “attendance” for the online class – the homework, or “deliverable,” as the school calls it, is what I’m supposed to use to determine whether a student has ‘attended’ the online class or not.

Last week, one of my lovelies – we’ll call him Tad – sent me his homework to me on Sunday at ten past nine.  Keep in mind that Tad has NEVER sent in an assignment on time – ever.  I sent him back this note:

Tad, you will not receive credit for this, and you’ve already been marked as absent for the deliverable.

The message must have had SOME effect, though, because he sent his homework in on time this week, albeit with this little love note attached:

that is pretty lame.

To which I replied that I was sorry that he felt that way, but the policy has been the policy since the first day of class.

Now, is it just me, or would ANY of you EVER have thought to speak to a teacher that way – in email or in person?!  I’m trying very hard to remember the source and to not take it personally, but I’m consistently stunned by the sheer lack of respect these students seem to have for their teachers.  It’s almost enough to put me off of this place.


Filed under General Griping, Learning, Teaching