My Compromise

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.

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9 Comments

Filed under concerns, frustrations, General Griping, Teaching

9 responses to “My Compromise

  1. I thank the good Lord every semester that I don’t have to do those things anymore. Where I worked before, I had to do them for all freshmen level courses (pain in the ass). Where I am now is a jr/sr level college. No more freshmen. Yay!

    I know all ours came from measuring and feedback and accreditation policies. Has anyone gone back to determine if it makes any damn bit of difference in retention rates?

  2. What is the justification for the labor intensive means of sending progress reports versus the easier, probably neater technological version?

    We used to have to use bubble sheets for progress reports even though we had electronic reports readily available. Thankfully, someone (at the top well after the instructors) realized the waste of time and paper.

  3. Thankfully I only have to do those reports on the athletes in my class and I can just email those

  4. Ugh. I WISH I could email them. I think, at the next employee meeting, I’ll bring this up. There’s really no reason why the entire process can’t be done electronically – just imagine the paper we’d save!

  5. I just don’t get it… they have simply chosen to blow off so much homework that they have a 25 average. A twenty-freaking-five?!?!?

    Hey, welcome to the real world. You give me 25% at work and you’ll be unemployed. I think it’s sweet you give them a chance to step it up, I don’t know that I’d be that gracious.

  6. Is it uncharitable of me to want to start a betting pool on how many people will take you up on your labor-saving offer?

  7. Having to fill in forms by hand with a ballpoint pen is, as you say, a bitch. I don’t understand why, at the very least, you don’t have an online form. (Yeah, I know, it’s still a form, but at least you can tap out the letters on your keyboard instead of grinding them out by hand.) However, there may be a way to relieve some of the cramps you’re experiencing (short of refusing to fill out the forms and possibly getting fired). Why not scrounge around and see if you can find an old typewriter somewhere? E-Bay? That would be a lot faster than a ballpoint pen. 🙂

  8. sphyrnatude

    I absolutley agree with the luddite ballpoint-pen grief. No reason for that!
    However, I have to disagree with the “nice” evaluations – lableing them as borderline instead of failing. All it is going to take is one nasty student to point out that when they hadn’t done any work you ranked them as borderline – now (at the end of the semester) when you give them the “f”, you’re going to have to jsutify why their work was “borderline” at mideterm, but the same work is “failing” at end of semester….

    To me, this is a CYA situation, and in all honesty, I don’t think you’re doing the kids any favours by giving them the impression that non-performance is borderline. In the real world (at leastiof they were working for me), thier evaluation would be: “time for you to go find another job – and by the way, non-performance does NOT qualify you for unemployment. Here’s you last paycheck, good luck, and don’t bother trying to use me for a reference.”
    By giving them the false inplression that what they are doing is “borderline” instead of unacceptable, you are continuing the grade inflation myths that most high schools currently use – it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re almost ensured a D (or in some cases a C) as long as you show up at least once…..

    Mke your evaluations honest – the kids that have any chance of actually responding to the evaluation may be pissed, but they’ll ge ttheir ducks ina row. The kids that aren’t going to respond are a lost cause anyway, so who really cares what they think.
    The one or two that feel that they are entitled to the passing grade just for being there will use your generosity as a method to force you to justify your change in standards…..

  9. ‘Tude, you are, of course, correct. As a means of covering my ass, I’ve decided to print out the students’ grade reports from my program and have them sign and date them, just to head off that sort of problem. The kids with the 25% averages are getting their butts referred to academic counseling, though; there’s no way I can give them wiggle room.

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