Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Take Away Teaching Moments 101

A mosaic, of sorts, of instructive moments this far into the semester.

First, background. The Matron is teaching not one, but four, of her five classes online. Someday she'll post about the merits of online life (she loves it) but today, some of the little thorns on that computer screen. Students and instructors alike tremble before the Matronly syllabus: 17 pages long, replete with assignments, links, guidelines, schedules, etc. It is a semester in a snapshot. She's organized (ahem, nice word for obsessive) that way.

So she can forgive the occasional oversight, the missed bit of information. And does forgive.

But still . . . three weeks in? Time to at least understand some fundamentals, condensed here:

1. Don't email with a general question about the class. Ask these on the classroom discussion board.

2. Don't send an unsigned email message. It's impossible to know who you are from the email address (this one is important for obvious reasons)

3. Don't ask your instructor to manually regrade the automated quiz to give you points for misspelled words or other small mistakes you make: if the answer is wrong, it's wrong. Spelling and following instructions are part of the assessment.

With that . . . a few humorous gems, recounted with love (after all, the Matron has made her own errors, including once DELETING an entire online constellation of graded student papers).

So putting herself on equally flawed footing, let's start with her personal favorite, unsigned and simple: "Send me syllabus."

Sure! What class are you in (which syllabus?) and who are you? Helpful details can be so annoying. Let's not even aim for niceties like salutations or thank you. Plus, there's the fact that the syllabus is not 'sent' but lives in the online classroom already.

Here's another, unsigned: "I spilled Columbia like Culumbia on the quiz and need that point back." Sure! And you are? What quiz? Which class? She actually gets several of these a week.

From a student removed from the class for non-participation: "I have had the flu for two and a half weeks but am fine now. Sorry. You can put me back in the class now." Okay, thanks. She'll get right on it.

Three dead relatives the day before the first assignment was due.

"I need a paper topic. Thanks!"

Then, in her on-the-ground class -- that lovely group who didn't know anything about the 1960s --, the Matron mentioned that she was just a few days (okay, 462 days) short of her fiftieth birthday. Not that she's counting.

She let that little bomb drop carefully, aiming for an onslaught of "wow you look amazing and you CANNOT be nearly fifty or "but you wear skinny jeans and heels" shrieks. Yes, shrieks. That's what she imagined.

Instead, silence.

Sigh . . .


Deb said...

Just came from a yoga class at my university...faculty all mixed in with students. Had a similar thought until I caught a glimpse of myself as a reflection in the window.

Nobody is going to be thinking, "She looks good!"

Anonymous said...

I am DYING laughing at your students.

Navhelowife said...

I love the "Need a paper topic!"
Don't get me started on those who should know better and their posts on forums, message boards, etc.

Brandy said...

I'm afraid this is catching. I too work in higher ed, as an administrative assistant in an office that serves faculty across colleges. Yesterday, I received this email:

send me information for Community Engagement

from a fellow secretary. GAH!