Not On Fine Form

| Learning | January 27, 2017

(I send an email to a student.)

Me: “Okay, just submit the attached form and we’ll take care of that for you.”

(Five minutes later:)

Me: “Sorry, I wasn’t clearer. Please fill out the form and submit it.”

(The student had downloaded the blank form, attached it to an email, and sent it right back to me!)

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Wipe Before You Gripe

| Learning | January 12, 2017

Classmate: “Do you need a ride home? I can take you.”

Me: “Sure!”

(He proceeds to open the door to what has to be the most trash filled car I have even seen. Oh, my!)

Classmate: “Wipe your feet!”

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Failed The Exam Before It Started

| Learning | July 26, 2016

(Most of my students take my classes fairly seriously, but one student has been getting under my skin – has only turned in 70% of the assignments, showed up 30 minutes late to the first exam, only tried to do a third of the take-home exam and scored a 5% on it, and has actually fallen asleep in class. This is the day of an exam I’ve been talking about daily for at least the last week.)

Student: *via email* “The roads are really messed up from the windstorm last night, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it to class today. I’ll be there if the conditions improve.”

Me: *via email* “Hi, [Student]: Please do your best, but I understand if you can’t make it in. Since it’s due to factors outside of your control, I can let you do an oral make-up exam.”

Student: *via email two days later* “Wait, I’m confused. What do you mean oral exam? Was there an exam I missed?”

(I head-desked so hard. This course is costing them at least $700, including the book, and they seem to be happy to throw away more than a week’s salary for me.)

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Don’t Be Para-Fazed By It

, | Learning | July 22, 2016

(I work in a campus learning center as a tutor. One thing tutors commonly experience is students who want you to give them the answers or fix their work for them so they can turn it in for a better grade without doing any work themselves. This is one of the reasons we only help students for 15 minutes at a time with the sessions spaced out by rotation, so they don’t become dependent. I am helping a student with a simple reading comprehension exercise and explaining the instructions.)

Me: “Okay, so this exercise is about paraphrasing. The instructions tell you to compare these three phrases to the original and identify which one is the best, which one is too similar to actually count as a paraphrase, and which one contains totally different or incorrect information. Okay?”

Student #1: “Okay.” *pointing* “What should I put for this one?”

Me: “Let’s compare it to the original sentence and decide which one you think it is.”

(The student grumbles at this, but reads through and marks them all “B” for best.)

Me: “Okay, I think you misunderstood. You are going to use each answer once for each problem without repeating. And ‘best’ means ‘better than all the others’, so by definition there can’t be more than one ‘best.’ So let’s try again.”

Student #1: “So I have to erase it and start over?!”

Me: “Well, yes, the problem is done incorrectly. The instructions are to use each answer once. Let’s start by looking for the one that is too different. Which phrase is saying something the first one doesn’t?”

Student #1: *after reading through the phrases again* “This one?”

Me: “Good, we’ve eliminated one.”

Student #1: *marks down ‘B’ for best* “Okay, now what do I put for the next one?”

Me: “Um, you marked that one as the best.”

Student #1: “Yeah, I think it’s the best.”

Me: “…I thought we just agreed that it was saying something totally different than the original.”

Student #1: “Yeah, so?”

(I explain paraphrasing and the instructions again, pointing out the “B”,”TS” and “D” he is supposed to use to mark it. Finally, he seems to understand and marks down a “D”.)

Me: “Okay, so let’s look at the other two. Which one is too similar?”

Student #1: “I think it’s this one. It tells us all the same things as this one up here.”

Me: “Well, remember, it is supposed to contain the same information. If it tells us something completely different then it wouldn’t be a paraphrase. Try comparing the wording between one and two to the original phrase and see which is more similar.”

Student #1: *staring at the page for a moment* “But this is telling us the same things.”

Me: “Yes, a paraphrase is supposed to give you the same information, just worded differently. Does the other example also have the same information?”

Student #1: “I don’t know!”

Me: “Well, try reading it and see—”

Student #1: “Why won’t you just help me? After all that time making me go through the problem would it have been so hard just to tell me I was supposed to mark it as D?”

Me: “I am trying to help, by explaining the instructions and how to follow them so you’ll know what to do when you move on to the other problems.”

Student #1: “Well, if I understood the instructions then I could just do it myself!”

Me: “Exactly. That is the goal. That’s why I’m explaining them to you.”

Student #1: “I came here for help, but you just act like you know everything! I’m never coming back for tutoring and it will be your fault if I fail!”

Me: “I’m afraid your success is not our responsibility, especially if we are not involved. We’re just here to help you do the work, but your grade depends on your effort.”

Student #1: “Whatever. Thanks for nothing!”

Me: “You’re welcome. Have a nice day.”

Student #2: “Geez, do you get people expecting you to hold their hand all the time?”

Me: “I’m afraid my code of ethics prevents me from answering that question.”

Student #2: “Gotcha.”

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Common Sense Is Not On The Cards

| Learning | July 5, 2016

(I work at a college that uses an automated print kiosk service for the students to do prints. Your choice for payment is to either upload money to a cloud account using your credit card, or use a prepaid print card (similar to a gift card) you buy at a store and print directly from a flash drive.)

Student: “I don’t have my print card with me; how do I print out?”

Me: “Your choices are to upload money to a cloud account, or buy another prepaid print card.”

Student: “Yes, I do have a print card but I left it at home. How do I use it to print out?”

Me: *goes into a five minute conversation on how to print*

Student: “Yes, but I DO have a print card but I left it at home… How do I use it to print?”

Me: “Look, it is like having a Starbuck’s gift card. If you get one as a card as a gift it does not sync up with any other account you have. You just use the gift card like money and once it is gone, it’s gone.”

Student: “But I have a print card…”

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