And you thought being a student was hard...

Before my time as a Communication professor at Ivy Tech, I spent many years doing corporate and organizational training. When I decided to become an instructor, I thought it couldn't be much different from what I did for companies. Boy, I couldn't be more wrong! Although I'd never tell my students, I learn more from them than they will ever learn from me!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different

I've spent too much time on all that drama from one certain student, so I thought I'd blog about other school happenings.

It's finally Thanksgiving break. I thought it would never get here. As per usual, it felt like pulling teeth trying to get any response out of students who were too burned out to care any more. This apathy is exactly why I save some of the more interesting topics (in case of Interpersonal, nonverbal communication) to spice things up a bit. They have assignments that take them out of their comfort zone to do things, like, stand really close to a stranger and see how they react.

I also show two videos to break up the lecture monotony. One, a well-done documentary called The Secrets of Body Language. Even if comm isn't your thing, most people enjoy seeing how you can "read" someone, what they are thinking what they are feeling, simply by observing their nonverbal behavior. Two, I show them the pilot episode of a show called Lie to Me. It's a wonderful show on Fox and nonverbal behavior, lying, and deception. It really is a great show to use in any comm, pyscholoy, sociology, or even some business courses. Then they have an extra credit opportunity to write a report on Dr. Paul Ekman, the psychologist the show is loosely based on. He's even a creative consultant for the show! It's a great way to show how science and pop culture really do collide. It ends up being one of the favorite assignments of most of my students.

Monday, November 23, 2009

No Good Deed, Part 2

I heard back ffrom my disgruntled student. I will give her credit for TRYING to not be hateful and bitchy, but her email was so full of excuses, blame, and more disrespectful language, that, really, we weren't much better off than we were before.

Now it appears her father has died. She even sent me the obituary for proof. She said in her letter that she would be out of town for a few days and would not be checking her email until she got back, because I stressed her out too much. Okay, I'm willing to take one across the chin for someone who is grieving (although from what she said in the letter, she made it sound as if she and her dad weren't very close, but at this point, I don't know what to believe with this girl), but when she informs me that, when she gets back, she will show proof that she turned in her assignments and I WILL give her an A for all of them and I WILL appologize for causing her so much stress, my hand actually trembled over the "F" key. Do you think she would notice if I failed her four weeks in to class? Nah.

Respecting her wishes, I did not reply back (even though in the previous email, she informed me that responding to a student's email with 12 hours at the most was not an unreasonable demand). Two days after I received her email, she posted on the Cyber Cafe discussion board (a discussion board where the students could talk about non-class things in an effort to get to know each other, mostly about who should win the next American Idol, I've noticed), she asked if anyone else was having problems with "our crap instructor," and then proceeded to bad mouth me for a good two paragraphs.

You know, I didn't have high blood pressure before this class...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No Good Deed...

Earlier in my blog, I talked about how I like online classes because the students are more open and more communicative.

Boy, has that come back to bite me in the ass.

Now, again, I am a communication expert. It's what all of my degrees are in, it's what I do for a living. This makes me a tad blunt. I'm not a big fan of bullshit or attempts to use communication for your own nefarious purposes, especially if I'm going to be the one caught in it.

A student from my online 8-week course sends me this scathing email message about how she has been trying to contact me about the drama going on in her life, and she is unimpressed with the level of unprofessionalism I have shown by not responding. She then goes on to give me all the reasons why her work has been late, telling me to go back and replace her 0s with the proper grades.

Now, first of all, this is a stanardized course. The state committee decides late procedures, and no late work is accepted after one week of the due date, regardless of reason, unless the professor okayed it before that one week deadline. Second, after scouring all of my emails and Blackboard messages, just to make sure, I had NEVER received any communication from this student before this email.

When I wrote her back, I told her all of this, and ended it by saying, "I feel as if you know from lack of participation that you are not going to do well, and so you're setting yourself up to be able to repeal your grade by setting me up to take the fall. Your disrespectful tone in your email does not help your cause, but hinders it. I will accept all work you submitted for last week and this week, and if you can show me proof of prior submissions to your other work, I will gladly accept it, but I can only grade what I have been given, and I've received no work from you since the first week."

She emailed me back, even more beligerent, telling me I was unprofessional, disrespectful, and immoral (still trying to figure that one out). After more ranting and raving, she "threatened" to tell on me to my boss.

I emailed her back, cc-ing my boss and the student affairs contact, to let her know that her threats were useless, and, essentially, repeated what I said before about what work I would accept and what I wouldn't, and told her that if she didn't mean to be disrespectful, as she claimed (ha!), then I appologized for my direct and blunt tone. In other words, I set out to diffuse a situation clearly getting out of control, not by telling the truth and being honest, but telling her what she wanted to hear, even if I choked on every word I wrote.

We shall see what my little star pupil has to say next.