Monthly Archives: January 2014

Grade Grubbers

I hate grade grubbers more than I hate pedophiles.  Grade grubbers are the pedophiles of the academic world. Is that too extreme? Offensive? (Guess what? I don’t care)

For the blessedly unfamiliar, grade grubbers are self-congratulating, special snowflakes who can’t seem to accept reality at the end of a semester.  As such, they attempt to force their delusions upon me.

They do this at the end of a semester.

After final grades have been submitted.

When I just want to curl up in my heated blanket and pretend they never existed.

They are the lemon juice in a paper cut I forgot I had.  They are the dank, rotten cilantro odor tainting the air after a stink bug has been slain.  They are the e-mails clogging my spam folder (the ones I never get around to deleting), trying to sell me Viagra for the penis I don’t have.

They come to me, obsequious and contrite at first, begging for unwarranted clemency.

I’m a special snowflake. I deserve an A. Please give me an A.

Their e-mails are always subtle and passive aggressive in their attempts to place the blame for their failure squarely upon my shoulders.  Let me give you a sampling:

Dear Professor, (respectful – so far, so good)

I was surprised to see that I ended up with a B in your class.

(Oh really?  Were you surprised?  Because, guess what, reading your final essay was like stubbing my toe a million times and then immediately falling into a pool of lava.  Did Paris Hilton write it for you, or did you just dangle a fish in front of your your cat while it walked across your keyboard for a few minutes?)

After all, I got A’s in all my other classes, and I’ve always been an A student. (Oh fantastic!  I didn’t realize I was consorting with an ***A Student*** here. Wow.   I’ll just go change that grade immediately since, after all, your grade in my class is entirely determined by the grades you receive in your other classes and your ability to demonstrate such robust megalomania.  In fact – why just an A?  Let’s make it an A + + +!)

I even had my mom, who is also a professor here, read over all my papers before I turned them in, and she always said they were good.  (Well since your professor mother [who most certainly must exist because you say she does] thinks you deserve an A, I will certainly change that grade for you.  After all, she’s the professor of this class, right?  Oh she’s not?  Well then I guess she can go fly a kite with all the other moms I don’t care about.)

I’m sure such students are the radioactive fallout leftover from this nuclear shift in parental ideology.

 

I feel like I earned an A in your class, and since I was only 1 percentage point away, I would be so grateful if you could change my grade to an A.  (Do I even need to comment on this?  Yes, you were only one percentage point away.  Do you know what that means?  IT MEANS YOU WERE A FULL 1 PERCENTAGE POINT AWAY FROM EARNING AN A.   But you know what?  Forget that.  Let’s come up with a new system of evaluation based upon what you feel you deserve.)

If I don’t get an A in your class, I won’t be able to [insert sob story here – make the dean’s list, keep my scholarship, play basketball, be an RA, achieve self-actualization, wipe my own ass,  and on and on and on, ad infinitum].  If there’s any extra credit I can do to raise my grade, please let me know. (Oh, your performance in my class might jeopardize your ability to have something you want?  Well then I will definitely change your grade lest you suffer some kind of disappointment in life.  We can’t have that.  It’s probably my fault that you didn’t take advantage of the TWO extra credit opportunities I offered earlier in the semester, but now that the semester is OVER, I would love to go out of my way to assign and grade more work for you.)

I really enjoyed this class this semester, and I thought you were a really good professor! (Oh flattery!  Now we’re resorting to flattery!  Ingenious.  I’ll never see through that. . .)

Sincerely (Really?)

The Worst Person Ever – no really, I’m THE WORST person ever

I even had a student once try to force her final essay into my hand even though she had disappeared from class for about a month without a word, far exceeding the attendance policy and automatically failing her for the course (which I informed her about in an e-mail I sent, also encouraging her to withdraw from the class so her failing grade wouldn’t damage her GPA).

I should have known this girl was a soul-sucking black hole of a bitch the first day of class when I innocently pronounced her name, Sajah, like this –> Say-juh (like Asia, but with an S).  She snotted back, “Um, hello? It’s pronounced Suh-jay-uh.”  I wanted to snot back, “No. It’s not.  You’re missing some letters.  Were they stolen?  Perhaps you could borrow some from Emmaleeighh over there, since she’s not even using half the letters in her name.”

Anyway, after I stood my ground and refused to take this girl’s final essay she left it, along with a note, in my mailbox.  The note read “Teachers like you are the reason students like me don’t succeed.”

Am I?  Um, thanks, I guess.

 

C is for Christmas and Cookies and Cocaine and Crazy

Greetings scant blog readers!  I hope you didn’t think I was dead, because that would be disturbing – just imagining some dead person out there, lying in her apartment, having her face gnawed off by her cat. . .

Here’s the thing – Christmas makes me a little crazy.  By that, I mean I love it.  I’m a cynical bitch about most things in life, but when the holidays come around I turn into this thing:

I know. It’s disturbing.

A manic, sugar-guzzling, ho-ho-ho-ing Martha Stewart reject.  Christmas music plays constantly in my mind – the anthem of my mania.  I scrawl out massive ‘to-do’ lists with the fervency of a cartoon super villain creating a blueprint for world domination.

I think to some extent I believe that if I bake enough, craft enough, stare at twinkly lights enough, wrap enough and listen to “Jingle Bell Rock” enough, I will usher in an era of world peace that will bring even Kim Jong Un to his knees and all will behold my saintly glory.

You see – I make a lot of homemade gifts because I’m an adjunct; thus, I am poor.  (P.S. This is cute when you’re a kid making fruit loop sombreros, but it’s just kind of pathetic when you’re a full-grown, real-life adult with a master’s degree – it’s like when your senile Aunt Bethany regifts her cat or when your husband catches you eating a spoonful of peanut butter and chocolate icing for dinner).

I can’t just make things easy for myself either and say, “Hey, I know – I’ll just make some chocolate chip cookies for everyone.  All I have to do is triple this recipe, bake em up, box em and be done!  Easy!”  Au contraire.  For some reason, I go absolutely batshit and feel the need to

Truffles and peanut butter cups and cookies shaped like snowmen! Biscotti! Banana Bread! Palmiers!  I must bake them all!

And while I bake them, I must taste them!  Taste them all!

This all sounds perfectly feasible when I make out that to-do list at the beginning of the season, but as Christmas draws nearer, I crumble into a ball of sugary panic and desperation as I sacrifice sleep to dip pretzels in melted chocolate and seriously consider developing a mild cocaine addiction:

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t leave myself any time for blogging or writing or anything except rocking back and forth in a hyperglycemic frenzy, really.  I barely managed to make it through my last few weeks of classes without serving arsenic-laced petit-fours to my students whose last batch of essays were utterly abysmal.  I’m talking ‘clearly didn’t even read the essay when finished because paragraph three ends in the middle of an unfinished sentence’ abysmal. I’m talking ‘inventing new words like lessable – yes, lessable’ abysmal.  Perhaps this was my fault, consumed as I was by my sugar-peddling bacchanal.

(Pssst. Sometimes I really don’t think I’m cut out to be a teacher.)

Anyway – I’m back, and as I noted last week my New Year’s Resolution is ‘leave the dishes.’  I will try to cultivate an attitude of relaxation and tranquility.  I will try not to sweat the small stuff.

Unfortunately, I also registered to take the GRE in March, so this should be a fun few months!  Yes, I finally decided to apply to doctoral programs, because clearly I need more education debt in my life.  I’d love to say that I’m taking this step because I value knowledge and personal growth, but really, I just want a job that pays me enough to move out of the hood (where ‘fireworks or gunshots?’ is a regular topic of discussion over dinners of Ramen noodles and depression), and it seems a PhD might be required for this.

I didn’t have to take the GRE for my master’s degree (my writing samples were enough because I’m so clearly awesome), but now it must be done.

As I cracked open the math section of my study book for the first time, I was greeted with a veritable melee of terms that I have, for years,  carefully sequestered in the corner of my mind reserved for cockroaches and speculums and all things unpleasant:  FOIL, permutations, functions, quadratic equations, exponents.  Integer?  That means number, right? Right?  Oh dear God, what does it mean?!?

Here’s how I imagine all English majors encountering algebra and geometry for the first time years after graduating:

In other words,

Any advice?

New Year’s Resolution

This week’s Trifecta challenge calls for a 3 word New Year’s Resolution.  Normally I would set some intense goal for myself – the accomplishment of some milestone – something life-altering.  However, upon realizing recently that I don’t quite know how to relax even when I have the chance, my motto for this year, which represents a mindset I want to cultivate, will be the following:

Leave the dishes.