The thing I’ve enjoyed most about nearing the end of this semester is receiving emails from a number of students who think I’m nice.
One student emails me, totally frazzled (having not turned in 5 homework assignments, having missed 40% of the classes, and obviously having failed the midterm). “Miriam,” he writes, “I just need to know if there’s some way I can turn my grade around.” “Yes,” I tell him, “try doing your homework, coming to class, and studying for the final. Those three things are bound to help.” Amazingly, he acts grateful for the words of advice I give him. Did he think that what I told him was somehow magical?
Another student: “I’m sorry I miss class every week. Its because I’m on the track team and we have to travel every week.” I may not be Sherlock Holmes, but I do see a mystery here. It’s fall and he is already traveling every week. The student goes on, “you can call my track coach if you’d like.” What the heck, I think. May as well call him. Nothing to lose. Maybe the kid is telling the truth. I call “Hi, is this the track coach?” “No ma’am, you have the wrong number.” Ok, maybe the kid typed the number wrong on the email. I respond to the kid, “The number you gave me was wrong.” I have never gotten another response from him nor have I seen him in class since.
A particularly demanding student: “I realized I’m failing the course and my counselor told me I need to withdraw. You need to sign a paper for it but I can’t come during class time. Can I meet you some other time?” OK buddy. I’m adjunct faculty and I don’t know if you’ve noticed but at your school that means I don’t have an office. I am never on campus except to teach. I hope I didn’t offend him too much by saying I wasn’t going to make a special trip to campus to sign a paper so that a student who is failing will only receive a “W”. Am I cruel?
And my favorite: “Sorry I missed taking the midterm three weeks ago. Its just that my grandmother pasted away.” What? She pasted away? What does that even mean? Perhaps one of the following things: