Tuesday, November 08, 2005


And Just When You Thought Conferences Were a Time-Suck

You realize that conferences are perhaps the most important part of what you do.

I just had a conference with a student - I think I blogged about him at the beginning of the semester because I suspected him of plagiarism but I'm too lazy to find the link. He didn't plagiarize, incidentally. He's just really fucking bright.

And for the past 3 weeks, he'd pretty much disappeared. He's not the sort of student that you don't notice when they're missing. He's bright and funny and he participates. And I had been a little worried, or as worried as one can be when one has around a hundred students in a semester.

But this student just came in for his conference, and I think I actually did some good. I don't want to talk in detail about it here, but let's just say that this student is dealing with issues that are really normal for my students to be dealing with but that often are at odds with them remaining in college, and I felt, when he left here, like he looked happier than when he came in. Almost as if a weight had been lifted off of him. And that's because as scary as some might find me because of certain of my grading or teaching practices, I really give a shit about my students. I might use policing tactics or grade harshly or whatever, but that's only one part of what it is to work at an institution like RCU.

Who knows whether this student will remain in school. I tried to convince him to stay at least through May. He might not, though. But at least he looked a little happier when he left my office. I hope he's ok.

Well, I hope that you had an effect. My students often get into situations that make them think of dropping out. However, they normally never come see me to give me a chance to talk them into at least sticking out the semester. It is FAR too easy here to drop. They just go to the registar and fill out a form -- no questions asked. Often they are very good students, and I am sorry to see them go.
It sounds like you did a great job, Dr. Crazy.

I'm always blown away by how each semester a number of my students deal with horrid problems, pregnancy, sick children, illnesses, suicidal friends, you name it. I have a sense that I see just the tip of the iceberg, since most students don't track down their professors to talk about these sorts of problems.
That's awesome. I had one of those today too--a student who showed up who has been in class for maybe half an hour in the last several weeks (she left early when she was there, even). After class she comes up, "I bet you've been wondering where I've been, huh?" Me: "Well, yes, actually."

She went on to explain that she had a choice this semester between working insane hours and dropping out. And her job has been scheduling her opposite my class, but that she promises she'll be there starting next week for the rest of the semester, and she knows her participation grade is shot, but hopefully she can pull it out with the final project, and she knows she should've said something earlier but she's been fighting over this schedule every week and had no idea they'd keep doing this to her, etc. etc. Straightforward explanation. So I sympathized, and thanked her for telling me, and both of us left the talk feeling a lot better.
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