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Author Topic: "Favorite" conversations with students  (Read 1538928 times)
palla
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« Reply #6270 on: May 04, 2012, 10:12:51 AM »

You have to enjoy the small victories...

Octo, that is wonderful!  And for the record, I don't consider that a small victory.  Checking the weather and leaving early enough to get in the building before the storm hits is a small victory.  Helping a student realize his true potential and helping change his attitude is freaking amazing!
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peppergal
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« Reply #6271 on: May 04, 2012, 10:15:04 AM »

Octo, you should totally post that in the Classroom Victories thread!
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llanfair
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« Reply #6272 on: May 04, 2012, 12:12:41 PM »

Octo, you should totally post that in the Classroom Victories thread!

+1! If that's not a victory, what is?
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octoprof
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« Reply #6273 on: May 04, 2012, 1:13:55 PM »

Octo, you should totally post that in the Classroom Victories thread!

I would if I could find it... the thread, that is.
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mystictechgal
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« Reply #6274 on: May 04, 2012, 1:16:49 PM »

9 down from here.
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biomancer
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« Reply #6275 on: May 05, 2012, 8:54:52 AM »

That's awesome, Octo!
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reener06
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« Reply #6276 on: May 05, 2012, 11:25:59 AM »

Thanks Octo. I'm adjuncting at CC next year (again--but had a break from there this semester) and have had some similar successes. You remind me to be patient but firm and hopeful. I tend to like the students more over there in some ways because they have had harder lives (in general) and some are at an age where it occurs to them that the same old thing isn't working anymore, and they seem more willing to change.

So I started finals week with a student in my office wanting to talk about the last lecture I gave (which was a week beforehand). At first this conversation was good, and I was impressed how much he knew about topic. Then it veered, somewhere after 10-15 minutes. I realized he couldn't look me in the eye, was talking very rapidly, as if he couldn't get all the words out fast enough. He was also like he could see the big picture and every single detail in it. After another few minutes, I realized he was acting manic. Another few, and he was talking about recapturing helium from balloons and selling it. He left, and left me feeling bewildered. On the ride home I realized his writing had gotten much worse over the course of the semester, and his demeanor had changed. I like this student--obviously smart, and obviously a critical thinker. I realized he was sick and needed help, and this made me sad. Many phone calls later, I alerted various people, and made sure I was not alone for the final (I teach at night, and lock up the building myself); however, as he was graduating this weekend, there was not much anyone could do. The final went without incident, although he left a strange note on my exam that made it clear he was not well. I really hope his family comes this weekend, sees something is wrong, and gets him some help. Or that he is already in the system. He was not dangerous, as far as I could tell, just not well.

I end finals week with another student who has failed to turn in the 4 required essays all semester, cumulatively 40% of the grade. Student never said a word about them to me. After turning in his exam, he explains he has tinnitus, and that is why he has missed many classes (attendance and participation are 10% of the grade). He has a medical excuse and I suggest he scan it and email to me (note: at this point I didn't put the connection that he is the one who didn't turn in any essays). He emails today to make sure I got them--I didn't--but I look him up in my grade book. The student has a 42%, which is on the CMS, and if he turns in his medical excuse, his grade would go up to a 44%. Not really sure what he is thinking.

I am ready for the bourbon now.
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cgfunmathguy
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« Reply #6277 on: May 07, 2012, 11:25:45 AM »

Background: Our summer term started last week and is seven weeks long. One student on my roster, who is repeating the class (which describes five of the eight students in the class), missed all of last week. Because of our attendance policy, I was prepared to drop this student from the class today if s/he didn't show. Of course, I notice him/her sitting in the back as I walk into the room today. After class, we had the following conversation.

Repeat Student: Hi.
Me: Hi. What's going on?
RS: I won't miss class again. I'm so sorry about that.
Me: You realize that you're on the borderline now, right?
RS: Oh, yeah. I won't miss again. I got my dates confused, and I thought that summer classes started this week. So, I was at home all last week.
<I'm pretty sure I had an incredulous look on my face at this point.>
RS: Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I'm sorry about missing your class.
Me: No problem. The second assignment is on the CMS. It's due tomorrow.
RS: Okay.
Me: If you turn in the first assignment tomorrow, I'll grade it as though it's on-time.
RS: Okay, thanks. I'll see you tomorrow.

Now, I cut the student a lot of slack, but that was due to my having dates confused the week before summer classes started. I was thinking that classes started Wednesday of last week instead of the Monday that they were scheduled to start. Fast forward to finding out that information a week later, and I could easily see how it occurred. I do hope s/he has the homework done.
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dr_alcott
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« Reply #6278 on: May 07, 2012, 12:42:03 PM »

Last week of classes here. Today, I gave my 200-level students a survey about what they most/least appreciated reading in the course. I explain that the survey is anonymous.

Let's say that my student's name is Jane Doe. She is apparently unfamiliar with the word "anonymous."

JD: What do you mean?
Me: You don't have to put your name on it if you don't want to. I don't need to know who you are.
JD: OK. I'll just put "JD" on it. Those are my initials.
Me: Well, that's not anonymous.
[JD looks confused.]
Me: See, I can trace those initials back to you. I know their your initials.
[JD still looks confused.]
Me: Plus, you just told me that that's what you were going to do. So that's not really anonymous.
[JD still looks confused.]
Me: No name. No initials.
JD: OK.

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anakin
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« Reply #6279 on: May 07, 2012, 3:07:55 PM »

I was interviewing some undergrad teaching assistants last week and after the PI left the room, I went through my standard spiel: this will be anonymous but not necessarily confidential. That can be a tough distinction to get, so I use an example. (Pay attention to the actor designates.)

Me: ... What I'll do as I'm typing up transcript notes is use identifiers that can't be traced back to you, like S1 and S2 for student 1 and student 2. If there are any comments you make that you don't want shared with anyone else, regardless of whether they know it's you or not, then just say so and I won't even record them in the transcript.
S1: But S is the first initial of my last name.
Me: That's okay, because the designators I'll use will apply to everyone.
S1: Can I be P1, for person 1?
Me: But that would set you apart from all the other S's...tell you what, if you like, I'll just use P1, P2, etc.
SP1: But what if I say something that is totally, like, a me mannerism?
Me: If you say anything and then a moment later would not like that comment recorded, you can just say so, and I'll make sure it doesn't end up in the transcript.
P1: Well, what about the 1, 2, 3 and so forth? Who are you going to start numbering with?
Me: I will just pick an arbitrary person to start with, say Silas over there, and I'll count off so Maggie is 2, you're 3, and so on.
P13: But that's not random. And you said Silas and Maggie's names.
Me: Right, but anonymous isn't random. I have to be able to keep track of which student...sorry, person...speaks in any given moment.
P3: But what about you saying Maggie and Silas's names:
P2: She'll edit that part out, this is just the tee-up.
P3: I just don't want to participate if I know it's not completely, like, anonymous.
Me: You don't have to. This is voluntary.
P4: This is just so she [me] can gather information about how Dr. Awesome used us in class.
P3: But I already ate one of your Rice Krispy Treats.
Me: It's okay, this is voluntary.
P5: Geez, Loren [P3], do you have anything bad to say?
Loren [P3]: No, this was a great class!
Me: We really have to get started, so if you could decide one way or the other...
P3: But if I leave, then Dr. Awesome will know I'm person 3 because I won't have anything in the transcript.
<smack forehead to palm>
Me: I would restart numbering.
P3: Well, if you start with Owen instead of Silas and go the other way so Loren's next and I'm next, then okay.
Me: Fine.
P33: Only you can't say that. So I want that part of the transcript to be confidential.
Me: Fine.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 3:09:21 PM by anakin » Logged

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octoprof
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« Reply #6280 on: May 07, 2012, 3:36:07 PM »

I was interviewing some undergrad teaching assistants last week and after the PI left the room, I went through my standard spiel: this will be anonymous but not necessarily confidential. That can be a tough distinction to get, so I use an example. (Pay attention to the actor designates.)

Me: ... What I'll do as I'm typing up transcript notes is use identifiers that can't be traced back to you, like S1 and S2 for student 1 and student 2. If there are any comments you make that you don't want shared with anyone else, regardless of whether they know it's you or not, then just say so and I won't even record them in the transcript.
S1: But S is the first initial of my last name.
Me: That's okay, because the designators I'll use will apply to everyone.
S1: Can I be P1, for person 1?
Me: But that would set you apart from all the other S's...tell you what, if you like, I'll just use P1, P2, etc.
SP1: But what if I say something that is totally, like, a me mannerism?
Me: If you say anything and then a moment later would not like that comment recorded, you can just say so, and I'll make sure it doesn't end up in the transcript.
P1: Well, what about the 1, 2, 3 and so forth? Who are you going to start numbering with?
Me: I will just pick an arbitrary person to start with, say Silas over there, and I'll count off so Maggie is 2, you're 3, and so on.
P13: But that's not random. And you said Silas and Maggie's names.
Me: Right, but anonymous isn't random. I have to be able to keep track of which student...sorry, person...speaks in any given moment.
P3: But what about you saying Maggie and Silas's names:
P2: She'll edit that part out, this is just the tee-up.
P3: I just don't want to participate if I know it's not completely, like, anonymous.
Me: You don't have to. This is voluntary.
P4: This is just so she [me] can gather information about how Dr. Awesome used us in class.
P3: But I already ate one of your Rice Krispy Treats.
Me: It's okay, this is voluntary.
P5: Geez, Loren [P3], do you have anything bad to say?
Loren [P3]: No, this was a great class!
Me: We really have to get started, so if you could decide one way or the other...
P3: But if I leave, then Dr. Awesome will know I'm person 3 because I won't have anything in the transcript.
<smack forehead to palm>
Me: I would restart numbering.
P3: Well, if you start with Owen instead of Silas and go the other way so Loren's next and I'm next, then okay.
Me: Fine.
P33: Only you can't say that. So I want that part of the transcript to be confidential.
Me: Fine.

That made my head hurt. I can't believe you didn't smack her...
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llanfair
Still reading past her bedtime and Very
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Whither Canada?


« Reply #6281 on: May 07, 2012, 3:42:49 PM »

Me too.  Or, like Isotope's youngest electron, flick her in the forehead.
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anakin
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Goes to 11


« Reply #6282 on: May 07, 2012, 3:50:37 PM »

I just loved how, after all that, she was still stude...sorry, person 3, and at least 2 other students totally got that (I could see the looks flash across their faces). AFAIK, she's still oblivious.
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conjugate
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Tends to have warped sense of humor


« Reply #6283 on: May 07, 2012, 3:56:11 PM »

What made me laugh was the plaintive cry of "...but I already ate one of your Rice Krispy treats...."  I can just see the mournful look on the student's face, having, like Proserpina or whoever it was, eaten one tiny pomegranate seed, and now is doomed.
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burnie
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« Reply #6284 on: May 07, 2012, 3:58:15 PM »

Background: Our summer term started last week and is seven weeks long. One student on my roster, who is repeating the class (which describes five of the eight students in the class), missed all of last week. Because of our attendance policy, I was prepared to drop this student from the class today if s/he didn't show. Of course, I notice him/her sitting in the back as I walk into the room today. After class, we had the following conversation.

Repeat Student: Hi.
Me: Hi. What's going on?
RS: I won't miss class again. I'm so sorry about that.
Me: You realize that you're on the borderline now, right?
RS: Oh, yeah. I won't miss again. I got my dates confused, and I thought that summer classes started this week. So, I was at home all last week.
<I'm pretty sure I had an incredulous look on my face at this point.>
RS: Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I'm sorry about missing your class.
Me: No problem. The second assignment is on the CMS. It's due tomorrow.
RS: Okay.
Me: If you turn in the first assignment tomorrow, I'll grade it as though it's on-time.
RS: Okay, thanks. I'll see you tomorrow.

Now, I cut the student a lot of slack, but that was due to my having dates confused the week before summer classes started. I was thinking that classes started Wednesday of last week instead of the Monday that they were scheduled to start. Fast forward to finding out that information a week later, and I could easily see how it occurred. I do hope s/he has the homework done.

One of my colleagues did the exact same thing - only hu was in Korea when the department realized there was some date confusion.  The class sat in their room professor-less for two days before one of the students complained on facebook and faculty saw the post and tried to track down the absentee prof. 
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Corporate America wants people who seem like bold risk takers, but never actually do anything.  - Barney Stinson
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