Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Must be something about this point in the Spring semester. The weather turns warmer, the birds are singing, bulbs are sprouting...and students start to wing out. The end of semester looms, the presentations have arrived, the workload is ratcheted up, and they freak. Without going into too many details, yesterday there was an incident in each of my classes. Groups in a panic because there are several free riders; in-my-face demands that I explain a (fair) grade; obnoxious posting on the online discussion board; and a student who hasn't regularly attended class really throwing in peers in group and complicating the upcoming presentations. So you might say this all has crossed my "line in the sand." Although I am probably too sympathetic to students in general, I do have a line that once crossed, turns me from nice and understanding to stone-faced and exacting. Sadly, I've found that it is necessary. Sometimes there are a couple of students who test the limits because I suspect they misperceive my good nature as weakness. That's a mistake they should not make. Afterwards, though, I am always left feeling uncomfortable because it really isn't in my character to draw that line in the sand. I just don't like being forced to do it and I wish mutual respect was a commonly understood concept. The final thing that makes me uneasy is that you never know what is in a student's mind. Teaching can be a tricky business.

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