I think of the teaching award that I won last spring, and I think the universe must be laughing right now to see me struggle with my graduate class.
Homework is due at noon. Homework is due at noon because a few weeks ago, when homework was due at midnight, I had a student demand that I make time help him that afternoon. I didn’t have office hours scheduled, and I did have several other things that I had to do. I was angry enough to let my anger show. That’s not a productive situation.
One student has been having a hard time getting his homework in on time; even with a midnight deadline, things would come in at 3 am. I warned him in a comment on his last assignment that this should not continue. Guess who has his computer open in class today? “What are you doing with the computer?” I asked. “Working on my homework,” he replied. “No you aren’t. You need to pay attention in class. Put it away,” I said. He did (fortunately). I turned back to my lesson and got a few more sentences out. Then I sat down to talk about what just happened. And the related issue that none of my four students takes notes in class, and there have been several times when they missed something done in class that was relevant to homework or exam material. I don’t think I won that battle.
After class guess who asked for an extension on the homework. My short answer was “NO.” “Do you know why the answer is no?” The student looked puzzled. “Two reasons. One, there is a late policy for this class, which requires you to ask 12 hours ahead of the due date for an extension. You didn’t follow it. Two, you were just very disrespectful in class. And that adds up to a NO.”
And there I am. I know I need to do something to change things, one of which is to start expecting things like this to happen so that they don’t rankle me as much. I also have to figure out how to reeducate this group. I never expected to have to go through this with a graduate class; that’s certainly one of the challenges — I am fighting my own frame of reference as well as dealing with the behavior.
When I am geocaching and can’t find a cache, it is often because I am functionally fixed on how I think the cache should be hidden. This causes me to be blind to however it actually is hidden. When I am in that state, I know I need to think differently, but the problem is, I don’t know how. Sometimes it takes several trips back to a place before I have the insight. Sometimes I’ve had to get some help from someone else to show me the hiding spot to break me out of the fixed thinking patterns. I feel like that is exactly where I am at with this class right now.