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Why Did I Get an F?

On the first day of Christmas break I got an e-mail from the dean’s office. Not a mass e-mail, one just to me. Terror, panic, irrational butterflies.

It was fine, of course. A student had contested her grade. This was my first such experience in more than a decade. The dean outlined the student’s reasoning and asked if I was willing to work on a resolution.

After I realized that I wasn’t in trouble, I read through the e-mail a few more times.

I had worked extensively with the student in question over the course of the semester, and hoped she’d be able to pull off a passing grade. A virtual zero on the final examination dashed those hopes. I felt for her and wasn’t even annoyed by the course of action she was taking.

I responded to my dean that I was willing to work with her and the student, and I explained the reason for the failing grade. I worried that I sounded defensive, though I think that is a natural impulse. As an adjunct, I often feel as if I have to work extra hard and be extra meticulous in handling things. I know I could lose my job at any moment.

I haven’t heard back about next steps and don’t know if the matter is resolved. I appreciate the processes in place for disputes. I see that I need to continue to work on my confidence outside the classroom, in the face of peers and administrators.

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