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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Already Tuesday

Thanks for the input concerning the student issue below. I haven't yet replied to her email, but I probably will send a concise statement similiar to what I typed earlier, but I still think it wise to let it sit so that I can be certain of how I want to respond. My husband said I shouldn't respond at all; he says she's just trying to provoke me and hurt my feelings so she doesn't deserve a response. Which may be true, but I feel compelled to acknowledge her comment.

But seriously? I thought about it all day yesterday. Certainly in each semester, when I have somewhenre between 125-150 students, there's bound to be one or two that give me issues and who dislike me; however, I've never had a student accuse me of favoritism. So, this accusation hits a nerve. In part it unnerves me because I do strive so hard to be so objective when grading student work, which is pretty hard when grading writing. But I use a series of rubrics which I created to help make the process of grading their work much more specific, and I think it helps make the grading more objective. Plus, when tallying a student's final grade I stick to my syllabus' guidelines concerning the breakdown of percentages (this particular young woman mostly earned a C because of her excessive absences and some missed work -- she might have done better had she turned everything in and been there everyday).

But it also hits a nerve because, let's face it, I do prefer some students over others. I'm not a robot. And over the course of a semester, sometimes several semesters (I frequently have students take me for more than one class), I develop a certain like or dislike for some students. I try not to let my personal preferences interfere with how I grade a student (in fact, it has pained me to issue poor grades to a few students who I really liked and really wanted to succeed). Yet, her comment made me think that perhaps she was right: did I favor some students and not her? If she'd ben a different student, would I have assessed her work differently?

Concerning her grade, no, I'm no wavering on that. The more I look at her work over the semester (re-consulted my records for her), the more I think she deserved the C. I probably will give her a short reply to her rather venomous email, and, yes, I will remain courteous. But maybe it's a good thing she sent it; maybe I do need to hear her opinion in order to remind myself to strive for fairness when looking at student work.

Anyhoo, after brewing over it for most of the day yesterday (even my very excellent book could only distract me from thinking about it for bits at a time), I really needed my run last night. As I noted yesterday, my legs were still pretty stiff from Saturday's 20, so I decided to turn my planned 5 into 3, and I think that was a good idea. Once out there, the run was a smooth as butta, and halfway through, my legs felt great. It rained yesterday evening, so the air when I went running was cooler, although still very humid, and the run was nothing but pleasant. I didn't take the Garmin, so I just listened to my music and let it determine my pace, which was comfortable. Certainly I could've done 5, but I think the easy 3 was a better way to recover. Today? My legs feel great. So, I cross train today and then add some distance to tomorrow's mid-week run.

13 comments:

Marcy said...

I'm sorry that whole student issue bothered you so much :-( It sounds like you're a very fair professor. Perhaps this was just her cheap ploy to try and get your to waver. Meaning, she just through the "favoritism" word out there in hopes that it will make you uncomfy and switch her grade, even though she knows she deserves a C. Does that make any sort of sense? I still need a second cup of coffee :P Either way, you're doing the right thing ;D

Wes said...

Hey girl! Nice job on the 20 miler!! You rock!!!! I'm a little late to the party on this student issue...

It reminds me so much of being a referee and running games for my home club. Favoritism is always an issue (we call it home cooking). It's important to approach each game (student) with a fair and open mind, a clean slate if you will.

As far as THAT student goes, she certainly DESERVES an explanation for her grade. It might not be the explanation she wants to hear, but can certainly empathize with her desire to want a better grade. We should encourage all students to want to achieve better grades and not have them handed to them.

So, in short, empathize with her, be respectful to her and yourself (and true to your principles), and if she wants an explanation, have her come in and see you if its that important. You only have to do this once...

Wes said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention how happy I was to finally get more pictures of beer :-)

Jess said...

I should qualify before any comments concerning my student get any further: this student DID receive feedback concerning her final grade. She has only been in contact with me via email since the end of summer term, but I have provided very detailed reasons for her grade. I have also invited her to come speak with me in person about the grade, but she has not responded to that invitation. The email she sent Monday morning that had me stewing all day read as so:

"I know this will not change anything dealing with my grade, but i thought you should know that i thought your grading was not equal and you should favortism to some students. I do not wish to get into details because i dont think it will result in anything productive, but i thought you should know my honest opnion."

Anyway, I emailed her back today with this:

"Your comment certainly upsets me and I'm deeply sorry if you think that my grading demonstrated any level of favoritism. I always strive to remain fair and objective when grading student work and assessing a student's final grade. I do appreciate your comment and will definitely keep it in mind for current and future courses, thank you."

I hope it is an issue that is behind us both now.

ws said...

I do like waking up and knowing it is already Tuesday, but I would prefer it be Friday already...

glad to hear your recovery run went better than mine. I tried running with headphones (earbuds) yesterday morning and they just pop-out and annoy me once I get sweaty. your comment on my post made me laugh. (mostly because I already know what I'm posting about tomorrow...)

Mendy said...

I think your run turned into 3 was fine... after all - you did 20 miles saturday. You rock!

As far as your student goes, I just now got caught up on your blog and this really shows how you care for your students, first and foremost. You were bothered by her accusations. Some teachers would have brushed it off, and her - for that matter. Your response (even though you've addressed her questions before) was very professional while showing your concern. Right on! I agree with Marcy, that she may be playing the "favoritism" card so that you fold. Glad you didn't. If she deserves a C, she should have gotten a C.

Sounds like you're a teacher most of your students respect and like!!

Amy said...

Ugh. You should just write:

"Um, duh! You only showed up sometimes and missed assignments...OF COURSE you're not my favorite."

Great job on the 20!

J~mom said...

I think your response sounds great. It's hard not to let things like that eat away at you as a teacher and because you do strive to be fair in your grading. I find that when someone says something like that about an area I already work at it hits a nerve sooner then it would normally.

Taryn said...

It's easy to hide behind emails when we know we're in the wrong... probably why she's emailing you instead of dropping by your office hours to speak face-to-face...

Your splits on the 20 were so awesome and consistent, nice!

Firefly's Running said...

Don't take the issue too seriously. Life is too short for that stuff.

teacherwoman said...

Hey, it's only normal to have favorites. Being a teacher as well, I see this. It's hard. I think you are going about this in the right way. :)

David said...

Just catching up, sadly. Weird swolen foot issue: hey, you put your body through hell for 20 miles. Stuff is bound to happen. There is healing in some initial swelling (maybe first 12 hours) since it's the body's healing mechanism, but ice after that and take acetomenaphin initially with ibuprofin 24 or so later.

Poision concert: holy crap, that must have rocked! Totally jealous. (psst - shoulda snuck in some booze to the concert ;-) )

Student issue: if she decides to push issue, you may offer a peer review of your grading, but just pick a notoriously tough grader. Tell her the grade could potentially be adjusted down due to this, since you may have been especially lienient during the summer semester to reward their dedication, blah, blah, blah.

Hey, do you have any pics of the V-dub microbus? Was it the rockin Westfalia version, with the pop-up camping roof? You know, Spiccoli cruised in a VW bus. He was cool!

Hang in there, Jess!

miss petite america said...

oooh you used the word rubric....that just gave me chills! you are SO a teacher ;)