I Can’t GIVE Points Away!

This morning, in a fit of what can only be described as woe bordering on despair, I had a look at my hybrid students’ grades.  Let’s just say that they’re not good.  I WANT these students to do well; I’m invested in their success and I want them to pass, so I thought I’d give them an opportunity to earn a few extra points this morning.

I had the class take out a sheet of paper and a pen, and told them that they were having a pop quiz.  Now, I always promise, on the first day of my classes, that I will never give pop quizzes – I don’t think they’re fair, particularly to people who don’t feel they “test” well, so I assure my students that they will never be forced to perform on the spot.  When the groaning started this morning, I told them that yes, it was a pop quiz, but that they could ONLY benefit.  This was, essentially, an extra credit opportunity; they could either earn 25 points or have their grade left completely unaffected.

Right about now, they were starting to get excited.

Their excitement lasted right up until they heard what I wanted them to do for those 25 points.

As part of their homework assignment, the hybrid class was asked to read two chapters in the text.  In both chapters, there were sample speeches with commentary on the craft and technique in the margins – key points of the lessons in the chapters were highlighted within the context of an actual speech.  I asked the students to tell me the topic of just one of those speeches – either one would be fine – and I would add 25 points to their grade.

Every face dropped when I told them what I wanted, and not a single student was able to give me an answer.

Seriously.  I’m not making any of this shit up.



Filed under concerns, General Griping

12 responses to “I Can’t GIVE Points Away!

  1. Organic Mama

    Sad? Pathetic? These words do not suffice for this disgusting display. I am so sorry to read your story – they have earned their failures despite your hard work to save them from themselves.

  2. Laurie

    Some of my students grumbled about one of my tests. Amazed, I said, “But it was the world’s easiest test! I tried to make it easy.”

    One of the brightest kids in the class replied, “Yeah, if you read the book!”

    I spent the remainder of class curled in a fetal position, weeping softly.

  3. and these morons are PAYING for this?!

    I sympathize for you, Mrs. C., but I have no sympathy whatsoever for the sad excuses you have for “students” in that class.

    I quote the smarmy waiter in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”:

    “I weep for the future!”

  4. Oh my god!!!! Wow. This is beyond enough.

    I can’t believe how stupid some people are. Genuinely stupid.

  5. sphyrnatude

    There comes a time when the “f-bomb” is needed. An effective method that I’ve used in the past is to open (or close) a class with a statement like “there are 25 people in this class. Right now, X of you have earned an ‘F’. If you wish to know or discuss your current grade, feel free to see me.”
    I’ve had classes where the ‘X’ amounted to 80% of the class. Usually this speech was given after the first lab practical – most of hte students had never taken one, and assumed that they could just coast it. welcome to the real world kids.
    Granted, there were kids that were taking junior and senior level intense hard science classes – they weren’t there because they had to be, or because iot was an easy grade – they *wanted* to have to learn the material. The ‘lecture’ was a combination wake-up call, and a message that the students that bombed were not alone.
    In your case, it may or may not work. From the sound of things, they expect to be handed a passing grade with no effort. What happens if the whole class fails?
    Please don’t inflate your grades just sop they get a pass….. Give them whatever grade they’ve earned, and have no guilt. You can lead the horse to water, but some of them will die of thirst waiting for the ice cubes, seltzer, and paper umbrella.

  6. bowyer

    Be careful when giving them numbers. I used the F-bomb as it was explained above and it was used against me. The students decided to convince the administration that if that many students were failing (in spite of the data showing why they were failing, poor attendance, lack of participation, and almost no homework being passed in) it must have been my fault. I was too hard, or not an effective teacher, or inflexible, anything would do, as long as the students didn’t have to change their behavior. One parent even decided to try to get a group of other parents together and approach the school board about having me removed.

  7. I agree with the fetal position. That is sad! It stresses me out just reading about it.

  8. Just think: You’ll be walking back into that classroom tomorrow. Same kids. Same attitude. Same old, same old. It’s enough to drive you to drink, isn’t it?

  9. I tend to not drop the “f-bomb” – at least, not the kind that’s been discussed in this context – in class at all, and for just the reasons you mentioned, Bowyer. These kids aren’t energetic about much, but they would certainly band together and rally behind the “see?! We can’t ALL be failing – it MUST be her fault” flag. I don’t need that.
    I am SO fortunate to work for a supervisor who is 100% supportive of his faculty. He KNOWS what some of these students are like and, to this point, he’s never for a second given me the impression that he thinks they haven’t managed to fail despite my best efforts. It would be in a very different situation for me if I didn’t have that; I am not worried for my job when the students fail because I know my boss knows it’s not me. I think the prevailing wind in education (that the students have to succeed or the teacher is to blame) is dangerous and entirely unethical, but that’s another post.
    CTG, yeah – it IS frustrating. What’s worse, though, is that, because this class is a hybrid (which means that it only meets one day a week; Mondays, in this case) and because next Monday is a holiday, I won’t see them again until June. I know for sure that at least half of them aren’t even going to open the emails with their work for these two weeks. They’ve passed the point of redemption as it is, they figure; why bother to start trying now?

  10. By the way, Sphyrnatude, I LOVED this…

    “You can lead the horse to water, but some of them will die of thirst waiting for the ice cubes, seltzer, and paper umbrella.”

    Someone, long ago, left a comment here that said “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t hold his head under long enough to make a difference.”

    I kind of like yours better – it very nicely reflects the attitudes of some of my students (though the other aphorism certainly has its appeal as a way of coping with them!).

  11. sphyrnatude

    sad to hear that teachers are held liable when their students flunk. While there *is* the rare teacher that just can’t teach, in my experience, almost all cases of “whole class flunking” is a result of the class (the students) – not the teacher.
    I guess I’ve been lucky – I’ve rarely had a student make a real challenge to a grade I gave (beyond an office visit with me), and I’ve always taught in institutions where the teachers were supported (Being one of the folks pulling in the grants that pay everyones salary helps).
    For those of you in the ‘normal’ non-supportive situations – when I get my school going, you’ll hear from me….

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