Because I’m a Big Softie…

… I’m thinking about sending this to the students in my hybrid class who, thus far, have turned in no work of any kind.  What do you think?  Should I hit “send,” or not?

Dear Students:

What you are reading here is a freak of nature that will NEVER happen again this semester.

I’m writing to you all because, according to my records, I’ve not received any homework from any of you. As a result, you all have zero grades.

IF my records are incorrect and you can prove to me, by a date stamp on an email you sent, that you did the work when you were supposed to, I will correct your grades to reflect the work that you did.

If my records ARE NOT incorrect, consider this a warning shot.  A LOT of your grade will be determined by the homework and quiz grades – I just don’t see how we can make it through enough speeches in class for your grade to be heavily influenced by your presentations – and I really don’t want to see you all dig a hole so deep this early into the term that you can’t recover in time to actually pass the class.  Zeroes kill, and you are racking them up pretty quickly.

Please – the work I’m giving you is in no way unreasonable or overwhelming – try to keep up.  I’m invested in seeing you all do well, and I’d hate to see you shoot yourself in the face this early out.

Warmly,

-Mrs. Chili

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15 Comments

Filed under concerns, General Griping, Questions, Teaching

15 responses to “Because I’m a Big Softie…

  1. wordlily

    I’d probably send it.

  2. claudia

    I’m with wordlily. HIT THE BUTTON!!!

  3. Send it on.

    Not to rag on you, cause you’ve told us about your class requirements, but when a teacher has a majority of the class failing, most start looking at the teacher first. I think your classes are the few exceptions to this rule. It’s very interesting to me.

  4. The thing that kills me is that, for the first half or so of the term, my grading is entirely binary: if the kids hand me something – anything – they get full credit. That changes around week 5 or 6, though, when I start grading for content (and, of course, grammar), and the students run the risk of only getting partial credit.

    MOST of them know this – or, at least, they do if they were paying attention when I explained it at the beginning of the term. The students would be smarter to do the work in the first half of the term, when they’re guaranteed easy 100s, than later in the term when they could spend all night on a paper and still fail because they did a crappy job.

    What. Ever. I’m doing everything possible – and then some – to see them succeed. They either choose to play along with me or not.

  5. I would send it….or a version of it anyway. Could be my mood today (admittedly sour), but I’m not sure a shooting reference is appropriate in light of Va Tech. I certainly am not insinuating that you are being glib, you know me better than that. Just that you could leave the last line out and still make your point.

  6. Leave the shooting reference, except change it to ‘shoot yourself in the foot’, not face.

    And Mrs Chili, if “it kills you” then it means that “you like it”. At least that’s what I would have thought about north-east US English from reading Catcher in the rye.

  7. bowyer1

    I agree with eatsbugs.
    I know from strong personal experience that, for the most part, institutions of learning are neither invested, nor interested, in any one student’s success (unless it brings the institution some publicity), but look at the students’ success as a whole (on paper). They advertise (except when high profile sports are involved) their graduation rates and almost every other aspect of student life but generally gloss over anything even remotely related to rigor and responsibility.
    The majority of learning institutions really could care less what students learn, (just look at some of the course offerings many colleges and universities provide for credit), or even if they actually learn anything, as long as the students pay their tuition bills and their transcripts show that they (both the student and the institution) are “succeeding”.
    These are institutions of big business, not education, and they are running a societally accepted student “mill” not unlike the puppy mills most people so abhor. These institutions sell their wares (poorly developed so-called “graduates”) to society as the real thing and then let the world sort out who really succeeded. Students that never would have been accepted even 20 years ago are shoved through an increasingly depersonalized system because it keeps the instiutions’ coffers full. I know educators who have children at school who admit their children should never have been accepted in higher education based on ability or drive, but were able to find places (with exceedingly high tuitions comparable to the quality of education) that would take them.
    I understand that there are many good educators like yourself (myself included) who believe that students should enter the education system to learn. To think that we might be able to help educate some people rather than pander to an ever more demanding and out of touch society instructing educators to make students feel good about their mediocre accomplishments.
    To wrap up this rather pessimistic view of the current state of education in this country. Be wary! You may end up taking a stand on your principles somewhere other than your classroom.

  8. Even I, who have had my teaching principles shaped a great deal by Bowyer, would send that message, Mrs. C. There’s nothing wrong with giving them an occasional second chance – so long as they realize said second chance is the exception, not the rule.

    Keep in mind, too, that most of them won’t take advantage of it anyway. Unfortunately, they just don’t care. Those that do are doing the work already.

  9. Just a quick note before I head to classes this morning:

    I sent the note. I’ll keep you all posted on whether anyone responds though I think, as Falcon warned, that most of them won’t bother.

    Janari, the term “that kills me” can go either way now; the last 56 years of language acrobatics in New England have given that little phrase double meaning. I almost exclusively use it to connote the negative. My children hear “You’re KILLING ME!!” as a response to my frustration about their general lack of responsibility.

    Bowyer, I love that you’re commenting more regularly now. As one of my very best friends, your thinking is important to me. I do think that it won’t be long before I’m called to stand up for what I believe in OUTSIDE my classroom, and I do think I’m ready for that. My convictions that we’re not doing the job we’re ethically bound to do are pretty strong, and I’m certain they’ll hold up under scrutiny.

  10. bowyer

    Unless I am not following the meaning of your reply, I think you misunderstood. When I said “… somewhere other than your classroom.” I meant “no longer in employment with that institution.”

    It is sad but I write this convinced that it means more to the institution to employ a teacher with low standards of education and less backbone who “passes” the majority of students with little regard for their abilities than it does to support someone with strong ethical and educational views who will, in the end, hurt their graduation statistics.

  11. I am, as usual, the minority vote over here. I wouldn’t have sent the note. I’d have made an announcement in class and it wouldn’t have included the offer of proof. I know only a tiny bit about computer hacking and I’m a thousand percent more motivated than your students (quick, what’s 1000 times 0) and I’m pretty sure I could fake a time and date stamp on an e-mail.

  12. Thanks for the kind words chili. Luck with the class. I like a teacher as stern as you!

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