So, it’s about mid-term at TCC, and mid-term means progress reports.
I resent the hell out of having to write progress reports for college students. I mean, these kids are supposed to be adults and, the assumption goes, they should be able to keep fairly good track of where they are, grade-wise, all on their own. The administration has a different view, however, and the distribution of progress reports to those students who are failing – or who are in danger of failing – happens right around mid-term.
Really, what I resent about having to do progress reports is the actual filling out of the reports themselves. They are four part, carbonless-copy forms that have to be completed by hand with a ball point pen and a pretty heavy hand. The neat-o, spiffy grading program I have on my computer prints out ready-made progress reports, but these are insufficient to Tiny Community College’s purposes. That means that Mrs. Chili has to look everyone up individually and transcribe, by heavy hand, what she could accomplish by just hitting “print report” on my grade program.
It’s a bitch, it takes a lot of time, it gives me hand cramps, and I resent the hell out of it.
All total, I have 44 students in three different classes. Of those 44 students, 18 of them are out-and-out failing (I have three students in a tie for the lowest grade in my book – a 25%). Several more of the remaining students are in danger of failing; they’re not teetering on the edge of the precipice, but one little nudge – or a really crappy test grade – and they’re going over.
I pretty much told them all off today. Most of them – though not all, I’ll admit – are failing simply because they’ve refused to do any of the homework I’ve prescribed and have stacked up quite a few zeros on their average. They’d all have A grades if they’d not been so lazy or careless or apathetic – most of them do fairly well in class and demonstrate a sufficient understanding of what we’re doing in class.
Because I have faith that, if they just got off their lazy asses and started doing the homework, I proposed a compromise: I will list their grade as “borderline” on the progress reports. They’ll still have the grades they’ve earned in my rosters – none of that is going to change – but I won’t report to their department heads that they’re currently the proud owners of 25% averages. In return for this stroke of benevolence, they’ve got to start playing ball with me. There’s nothing that says I can’t submit a second progress report at the 3/4 mark, switching their notation from “borderline” to “bombing” (it’s actually “failing,” but I like the alliteration better…).
I think that, now that we’re really into the semester and they see that the work that I’m asking of them isn’t going to kill them – and, GASP! it might actually help them – I may have a little more buy-in. Of course, I’ve been trained well by the students who’ve come before this batch, so I know better than to hold my breath.