Monday, April 12, 2010

Sucky flipside of teaching

I wonder if students understand the honest-to-goodness heartbreak I feel when I have to make a decision that completely screws them over. Of course, it's their own decision that created the issue...I don't just willy-nilly screw a student over. But most of my students are really awesome persons who just made completely huge mistakes.  Ones that I can't really ethically override.

Case in point: Student writes me to say she hadn't heard back on her Essay #1 (due 2 weeks ago).  I apologize, say there must have been an issue, and can she please forward me the CC'd version they're required to send themselves (for this very reason). She writes back and says she just posted it to the discussion boards, and cut-and-pasted it into the email.  It was a 150 word posting....not a 6 page essay on Science as it related to their assigned readings.

Hmm.

When we realized she in fact hadn't done Essay #1, there's not really a great next step.  I weighed it from all angles, called in my sage advisor/husband, and reviewed all the communications I'd posted about Essay #1.

Blegh.

I have to give her a zero.  And it totally sucks.  Not because she doesn't deserve it...because if the situation were reversed and that happened to me as a student, I'd deserve it.  But still. She's going to the fail the class because I didn't do a heroic (and yet unethical) save of her grade.

The problem with really caring about your students' success is the absolute yuckiness of being part of their failure.  Not creating it, but not fixing it for them.

As always, it relates back to parenting for me.  I see parallels in nearly every situation.  And watching the natural consequences fall down around someone doesn't feel comfortable, even if you know it's the best in the long run...and short-circuiting the process would actually harm more than help.

But blegh.  Yucky stuff. 

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