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Author Topic: Bang Your Head on Your Desk - the thread of teaching despair!  (Read 2038288 times)
rowan1
be serious I am a
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na na na na, na na na na , hey hey hey, goodbye


« on: October 06, 2009, 11:17:29 AM »

Yes we have the favorite conversations and favorite emails and even the worse student sentences thread - but I thought I would pause for a moment, after wiping the blood off my desk and head to reach out to others who surely feel as I do at times that the light bulbs will never never never go on.

To my dear sweet YOUNG students - you have to read beyond the text!  You have to be able to imagine the world of the characters.  You have to be able to see the subtext.  these questions are designed to help you with that, and no, choosing to not answer them because "I didn't see anything in the script that told me what she wanted" does not work!  The whole entire play is about what she wants!  For gosh sakes - it is a freaking Neil Simon play - it ain't that deep!  What are you going to do with your final when we are working on "deep" plays?

Thank you, I will now return to grading these incredibly perceptive character analysis and try not to give myself a concussion.
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The time is out of joint—O cursèd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
dr_evil
Completely Imaginary
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2009, 11:22:03 AM »

To my dear sweet YOUNG students - you have to read beyond the text! 

I'd be happy if they'd simply READ THE TEXT, let alone beyond it.  I can't count the number of people who didn't properly (if at all) read the lab procedure last week.  As for the lecture text, I think they use it as a doorstop.  I've already been given comments about how I "didn't tell them <something clearly explained in text>."  *SIGH*
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Wheeeeee! You go, oh evilicious one.
cranefly
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Posts: 2,261


« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2009, 12:53:44 PM »

Ah, I had a student write a flaming email to the class (via discussion board, with swearing and all) about how they shouldn't get marked on participation because I don't pose specific questions for them to discuss. My response? I do pose specific questions--in the lectures each week. Hus response? "Oh, well, I've been too busy".
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Oh yeah--Professor Sparkle Pony. "Follow your dreams, young genius, and you will meet with success!" Students eat that up.
phlegmatic
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2009, 1:05:55 PM »

I don't know if this counts as "teaching despair," but it is about teaching and is making me despair!

I have major student problems in every class. I mean, each class has major problem students. Each class isn't a problem, but particular students in each class have major problems. One class has cheaters and 13th graders, another has students dealing with severe personal and familial issues, and one student in particular I have spent all morning and will spend all afternoon dealing with--because of HIS behavior! (A male student is harassing female students who are in the class.)

This is NOT what I signed up for. And it's not fair to other students or myself that these problem students are taking up so much of my time. And...why do I have so many problem students?!?
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csgirl
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« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2009, 1:11:40 PM »

I would be happy if my students would just BUY the textbook (or otherwise acquire it). Seriously. I am teaching this horror class - Microsoft applications - and the textbook is a "click along with the book" type text. About the only thing I can do with this course is have the students click along - IF the students had the books. But only half the class has bought the book. When I try to have the students do the book's exercises, the half without a book simply sit and stare. I really don't know what to do with this class. I can stand in the front and click through the book, and let the students watch me  - indeed, that is what I did do for the first 4 weeks. But it was clear that the students were bored beyond tears and learning nothing.  So I try to demo some things and then have the students do the exercises, but it doesn't work when no one has the book. I can't photocopy the pages because the exercises are very detailed and go on for many pages displaying every single last dialog box.  How do I make students buy the book?
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midwestgrad
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« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2009, 1:26:35 PM »

That's easy enough, csgirl.  Just list the book as "required" and fail them when they can't do the assignments from the book.
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marfa
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« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2009, 1:45:01 PM »

That's easy enough, csgirl.  Just list the book as "required" and fail them when they can't do the assignments from the book.

Our students rent their books (part of tuition) and STILL they don't always get it.  Two days before the test, 5 weeks into the semester..... "uh, I don't have a textbook."

UGH
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"It is hard to be bipartisan when the other party is dominated by crazy people. " DvF
sockpuppet47
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« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2009, 1:47:00 PM »

I'm not saying this is the case, but there has been some pretty interesting ed psych work indicating that 17 and 18 year-old brains may not yet be wired to do some of the things we ask. Read the text, yes, but going two levels deeper? A more difficult prospect.

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hipgeek
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« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2009, 1:53:12 PM »

I have a student who never does his work, explained after the fact this is because his father died.  Also says he's only go to school to help him test best on some military enrollment test.  (Perhaps actually paying attention to test instructions would help with that!)

Anyway today he seemed surprisingly engaged when environmentalism came up.  He talked with me for twenty minutes after class, even following me out of the building.  The kicker is he's a terrible mumbler, so I can never understand half of what he's saying.

His speech on some doom and gloom, human-hating, nature-loving rant was continuing as we got into the elevator.  Before we got on I could discern that he mentioned bedridden fat people and the movie Wal-E (which I have yet to see).  Once we got onto to the elevator, amidst a group of young students, he loudly and clearly (for a change) said something about blood in his stool!
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I have no tolerance for swinish behavior, except from actual swine.
menotti
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« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2009, 1:56:40 PM »

I am reading the worst-written dissertation prospectus.  Wouldn't it be obvious that if you are writing paper #1, paper #2, and paper #3, you should address the topics in that order?  Or that if you have several sections discussing a topic, you should put them together (unless this is a unifying theme of the diss, which it is not).  Apparently not.

The worst thing is that this is much improved since the last version.
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massive_attack
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Posts: 58


« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2009, 2:46:51 PM »

I spend a significant portion of my intro classes discussing research and why we have to rely on research rather than anecdotal evidence, the nature of correlational research, the complexity of human behavior, etc..  Then I start presenting fairly robust research findings and listen to student after student after student argue that because their personal experiences or personal *beliefs* don't match up with the research findings, that these relationships don't exist.

*headdesk*
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fosca
Peripatetic Professor
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« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2009, 3:01:27 PM »

I don't want the students to use examples from the lecture or the book for the homework.  I tell them this in class.  I put it in the instructions.  And inevitably students use examples directly from my lecture, usually not even trying to disguise them.

I tell them not to copy directly from the text.  In class and in lecture, with intimations of doom if they do so.  And yet many still do so.

I mean, I know many of my students are functionally illiterate, but can they not understand spoken instructions either?  <sighs>
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They equate learning with "understanding magically everything that [the professor] teaches us because it's all so easy" not "expanding their knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge to new situations and problems."
mountainguy
The no longer carbonated
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Posts: 17,125


« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2009, 3:17:47 PM »

I am reading the worst-written dissertation prospectus.  Wouldn't it be obvious that if you are writing paper #1, paper #2, and paper #3, you should address the topics in that order?  Or that if you have several sections discussing a topic, you should put them together (unless this is a unifying theme of the diss, which it is not).  Apparently not.

The worst thing is that this is much improved since the last version.

I sure hope you're not my advisor. If you are, please stop reading it and return it to me at once :).

Everyone else, I'm sorry that you're dealing with so many problem students. I've been there myself, and I know it isn't fun. Hang in there.

Csgirl: Can you ban students from the class until they get the books? It sounds harsh, but that might be the only way to get them on track. You might give them a warning that this is coming down the pipeline.
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temporaryname
Junior faculty,
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Posts: 934


« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2009, 3:32:45 PM »

I spend a significant portion of my intro classes discussing research and why we have to rely on research rather than anecdotal evidence, the nature of correlational research, the complexity of human behavior, etc..  Then I start presenting fairly robust research findings and listen to student after student after student argue that because their personal experiences or personal *beliefs* don't match up with the research findings, that these relationships don't exist.

*headdesk*
I sob along with you, Massive Attack.

I do quantitative sociolinguistics, and we just went through a bit on how social perceptions of different dialect forms get interpreted differently depending on their social context. We went through a specific case of this, where African-American Vernacular English has invariant 'be' marking habituality (as in The coffee in my office be cold when that's generally the case), and so does Irish English. However, since African-American Vernacular English is stigmatized in the US, a large proportion of Americans view African-Americans' use of invariant 'be' highly negatively, and Irish use of the same form as at worst quaint.

This all gets backed up with quantitative studies.

Then: All they needed to do for the first part of the assignment was regurgitate what we went through in class--and what do I get back on it? Multiple students saying that African-Americans use invariant 'be' because they use "lazy language".

*headdesk*

But wait, that's not all!

When I went over the assignment in class afterward I drew attention to this--and afterward, not one but two students told me that I couldn't be right, 'cause "everyone knows" that invariant 'be' is lazy, no matter the studies that show it's actually used in a consistent and meaningful way. After all, their own personal views on language use ought to take precedence over the findings of standard research protocols and quantitative analysis.

*headdesk^2*
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iclaudius
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Posts: 262


« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2009, 3:38:22 PM »

In general, my students are doing fine, but sometimes you wonder what's going on in their heads. I gave an open book quiz last week on U.S. progressivism. (I don't take attendance, so such quizzes are one way for me to enforce attendance.) I gave them twenty minutes for ten short (as in one/two/three word answers) questions. Most scored decently on it, some even got all points. However, one student couldn't get one question right, despite having all this time and an open book where all the answers could be found.
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