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!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fall 2009, That's a Wrap!

Thank GOD this semester is over. Final grades are in, so I can wash my hands of the whole thing. I've been teaching at Ivy Tech for almost two years, and seriously, this was the worst semester by far.

On the good side, many of my f2f students blew me away with their work. I had higher than normal As and Bs this semster. I'm pretty tough, and I really don't bend very often in my rules (including NEVER accepting late work unless it is an extreme situation or my mistake), so I usually have an almost perfect bell curve. My two new classes did really well. So impressed with their work all semester long.

On the bad side, my online classes were rougher than normal. The 16 week classes did good, and I managed not to get too far behind in them. My 8 week classes, though, were a nightmare from beginning to end. I spent so much time fixing problems, dealing with issue after issue, technical and otherwise, then desperately trying to catch up on grading, I felt like I never got my feet under me. Those two classes had me questioning my sanity in choosing this for a living.

As a post script, after my last email to my problem student concerning turning in all of her work with no penalty so long as it was by the last day, which was two days ago, I have not heard hide nor hair from her. My gamble paid off. I just wish it hadn't been necessary to do.

Anyway, two weeks of brain dead relaxation to re-group for next semester. Happy Kwanza, Merry Christmas, and Happy Chaunaka. In other words, happy holidays, everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's Finally Finals!

Ugh, this week could not get here soon enough! I've taken an informal poll of all my colleagues that I associate on a regular basis, and we all agree - this semester SUCKED.

Part of the problem for us was the explosion of enrollment with very few new hires. Many of us were maxed out of overload. Top that with raised class limits (a particular pet peeve of mine due to limited interpersonal interaction and no additional money for additional students), more rules and regulations coming down the administrative pipe that allows us less and less freedom in our classes, and a raise freeze due to lack of funding, and it makes for a cranky group of people. We were told that this semester would be the worst, by next semester, many of the issues we had with this semester will have been worked out. Needless to say, none of us are holding our breath.

On the positive teaching side of things, this is group project and individual presentation week for all of my students. They do their final online to give us time to do these presentations. I have to say, this has got to be my favorite of all assignments! I require creativity as the majority of their grade, and what they end up coming up with blows me away every semester. Oh, sure, there's always a few that barely put in enough time to throw a Power Point presentation together, but then there are those who are so rich and complicated and entertaining that I end up keeping them as examples for the next semester. This semester, I had a group who did a Dateline Undercover-type project, sending two gals into Best Buy, one looking hot, the other looking kinda scruffy, to see who was helped first. Needless to say, the hot gal was helped first. In fact, the sales clerk closest to the scruffy student walked by her and ignored her completely to go help the cute student. I smell an expose here!

My media class also had some great projects. They had to do a presentation on the marketing and advertising campaign on a product and how that related to culture and communication. One student did Gatorade and emotional communication. I was floored. It was so well researched, so outside of the box, with just enough imperfections that I didn't suspect plaigarism, she got the highest grade in the class for that project.

It is just these things that make all of the other crap that has to be dealt with so much easier. If only there were more moments like these.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

No Good Deed, Part 3

After receiving another email from my problem student during Thanksgiving break asking why I had not responded to her last email, a time she specifically said NOT to email her due to her stress, I finally broke down. When honest won't work, give them what they want and call it for the lost cause it is.

The email I sent her was so nice and sweet, you could have sugared your coffee with it. I told her, given her unfortunate circumstances, I would accept all of her work, late and otherwise, without any penalty at all. The only catch was that I had to receive by the last day of class, no exceptions. That gives her three weeks to turn in 15 weeks worth of DB postings, quizzes, and papers. If she can do it all, I will keep my word.

Now, before you think I'm cashing in my integrity but letting her do this when any other student would not be allowed, I understand your thinking. It choked me to do it. However, given the tone and language of her letters, I truly do believe she will do what I first claimed she would do in my first email - set herself up to fight her grade by making me the bad guy. Instead, I gave her EVERYTHING she asked for, taking me out of the equation on her grade entirely. Kind of like playing tug-of-war and letting go of the rope.

Let's see if she falls.