Xena and I weren’t kidding when we came up with Tuesday’s post. Here is an actual email exchange I’ve been having with a student from my composition class over the last two days. The ONLY editing I’ve done is to change our names to protect our identities; everything else is exactly as she’s written it:

Erica: Hello Mrs Chili, i just want to know if i did good on the final , and if i got a passing grade
Thank you

Mrs. Chili: Dear Erica

First of all, it’s “if I did WELL on the final.” Sigh.

You got a 77 on the final, but your final grade in the class is a 49.1, which is an F. I hate having to record this grade, Erica, because I KNOW that you can do excellent work – you just didn’t DO the work that was required. Zero grades kill averages, and that’s what happened to you.

I’m teaching composition again next term; I’ve got two sections on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’d love to have you as a student again because I know you’re an eloquent and capable writer. Please take this skill seriously; you will find that it will serve you well in your profession.


Mrs. Chili

Erica: Hi Mrs Chili
i know i didn’t do as well as i would have liked to. Is there any extra credit i can do to get a passing grade, i really need this

Mrs. Chili: Erica, I’m sorry, but there really isn’t anything you can do at this point. You’ve missed far too much work, and you essentially plagiarized your research paper. You’ve not demonstrated skill in the objectives of the class and I can’t, in good conscience, give you a passing grade. I encourage you to take the class again, and to really commit yourself to getting the work done on time and according to the directions.

Again, I’d love to have you as my student next term. Remember that, even if you get a different teacher, you can always come to me for extra help.


Mrs. Chili

I’m interested to see if – and if so, how – Erica hits this one back into my court. I’ll keep you posted.



Filed under composition, concerns, failure, frustrations, funniness, General Griping, hybrids suck, student chutzpah, Yikes!

17 responses to “Panic

  1. Wow.

    Nope, the only thing I’d offer her would be directions to the registrar’s office. 😉

  2. nhfalcon

    “Talk to the wizard…”


  3. “Talk to the wizard…” I love that. NHFalcon, I have the “avenging unicorn” on my desk. It came with several stereotypically annoying figures to impale on its horn. One of them is a flower child/hippie sort. I only wish I could find her a little backpack to make her into a student.

  4. Dear Erica,

    Emailing a professor is different than IM’ing with your buddies, especially when campaigning for a better grade. You might want to lead the professor to think you know your ass from a hole in the ground. Or, at least that I should be capitalized. Is it that hard to push the shift button?

    I’m a bit surprised how you didn’t know you failed the final. Seriously? Did you at least have an idea that perhaps you didn’t do well? What about all the work you failed to turn in? How on EARTH can you even think you’ll pass when you don’t turn in the work. People like you make me crazy. College is a privilege, not a right. You would do well to think about that.

    Grammar Snob

  5. passing students who deserve a failing grade has always been a pet peeve of mine. i’m glad you’re not doing that. 🙂

  6. One of the things I don’t miss about the classroom:

    “Is there any extra credit I can do?”!!!!

  7. Can we have a betting pool, one of those things where there are squares and everyone gets to pick one? Can mine be on the square that says, “But I NEED to pass this class!!!”?

    It’s interesting what Snob says about college being a privilege and not a right. In some ways that’s a shift in perspective that’s happened during our relatively short lifetimes and I wonder if it’s had an effect (affect? fuck! no I stick with my first instinct) on student performance in both college and in college prep/high school.

  8. If we are picking squares, then I want “But, I’ll LOSE my financial aid if I don’t get at least a C.”

  9. i think she’l e mail u agin wit anoter wel worded note to ask 4 xtra credit.


  10. Maybe she will respond and hopefully she will find the “shift” on her keyboard. Maybe even a punctuation mark or two. Can I send her a message? “Look Erika, you have to make good choices and one of those includes actually turning in your homework. You’re an adult now. Wake up on time, do your work, and THEN go have fun if time allows. Geesh.


  11. Grammar Snob’s comment reminds me of the time I was managing editor of a daily newspaper. I was just about to invite a young photographer to join our staff. I asked, “If we offer you this job, how long would it take you to tie up loose ends where you are now?”

    “I can get my shit together in two weeks,” she replied.

    That remark was the end of my interest in that candidate. Good grief, if you’re a job-seeker, you need to clean up your mouth (at least long enough to get the job)!

  12. M-Dawg

    I 100% agree with Grammar Snob.

    As a 9th grade World History teacher, my students will turn in FORMAL ESSAYS and RESEARCH PAPERS using IM’ing format. It drives me up the wall. And, they (the kids) don’t get why I’m so upset??????


    As usual, you went above and beyond for your student. I’ll be interested to see if she signs up for your class again.

  13. Bravo! learning how to graciously accept defeat, and learn from your mistakes, is one of the most important life lessons, probably more important than even literature!

  14. Just wait till her mommy calls to tell you how it is all your fault that your class was boring and that is why she failed.


    Teachers in public school who cave to this kind of “extra credit” mentality is the reason you have problems such as these.


  15. Mr Teacher

    Wow, all these comments seem so supportive of the teacher… you must not be the parents of the kids in my class… you must not be the APs or the Principals or the School Boards or Congress..well..or ANYONE that is in charge of holding students back a grade when they don’t pass. The system was broken irrevocably when someone decided the parents knew better than the teachers, and to hold kids back for failure would hurt their little feelings instead of teaching them that they must put forth effort to obtain results.

  16. Mr. Teacher, I wish you’d left an email address – I’m not sure you’ll come back to see this and I wanted to say EXACTLY!

    I had a 45 minute conversation with my older daughter’s teacher the other day, and once we were done talking about my concerns for Punkin’ Pie (she’s struggling with motivation for homework and seems to be bullied a bit in school), we started talking about how difficult it is to be a teacher in today’s educational system. We’ve somehow switched to a consumer model of education, and that attitude, combined with the disastrous NCLB, has made a quality education all but impossible. Frankly, I think it starts with the fact that teachers are (rightly so, I think) afraid to discipline the students. Parents will either not follow-up at home or, worse, get right up into the teacher’s faces and threaten them with lawsuits and other actions for “overstepping the bounds.”

    I couldn’t work in public schools, and I find myself gathering more and more respect for those who plow on despite the increasing odds against them.

  17. Your “consumer model” comment is, alas, too on target; I have had the dubious pleasure of working with administratrs who refer to our “clients” and “consumers,” meaning the students (and, of course, their parents). For this, I chose academia, rather than sales? What was I thinking?

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