Thursday, December 07, 2006

Student Applause

Flavia posts on the how to consistently get applause from your students at the end of the quarter. Of course we would all like to be appreciated by our students, but this week I feel I have been unfairly applauded, not once, but twice.

Tuesday night Inexperienced Lecturer was expecting a guest lecturer. The guest was coming from out of town and called a half an hour before the start of class to say that he was stuck in traffic. After spending 5 minutes trying to organize the class evaluations without supplementary pencils and 10-15 minutes discussing the final, Inexperienced Lecturer left the class to chat while messing with his cell phone reception. So Christian TA and I discussed the likelihood that this guest will make it to class before the end of the assigned period. By the time 30 minutes had passed I decided that we should make up something to discuss since Inexperienced Lecturer wasn't going to. So I got up in front of the class and opened up a discussion to questions about 'hairdressing.' Of course the students from my discussion immediately ask me whether I am a licensed hairdresser (which I'm not because I'm still in grad school.) As soon as I answered the question, including some information on the requirements for becoming a licensed hairdresser, the guest finally arrived. Now I could be wrong, but I could swear that the students gave me a round of applause, maybe they were happy to see the guest finally arriving. Either way, I thought it was rather sad that they were so willing to applaud since I felt the class was a complete mess.

Then tonight, during my last Thursday discussion, certain students made a point to applaud me as I was leaving. I didn't do anything to wrap up the course, I have given up.

The final "exam" is actually another essay (5-7 pages), in which Inexperience Lecturer has asked the students to cite three examples from lecture and three examples from the readings, writing a paragraph about each one, while simultaneously writing a coherent thesis. It's the "write a paragraph about each one" that gets me frustrated. Some of the most common writing problems in this class have been lack of coherent paragraphs and problems with transitions. Why give them directions that will just make these problems worse? If you really just want them to prove that they attended three lectures and read three articles why not just have them write six separate essay questions?

So I was just attempting to pass out graded papers, collect their most recent assignment, answer questions about the final, and pass out discussion evaluations, yet the students pointedly applauded. It just made me feel sad. I'm certain that some of them like me, but I would rather be certain that they learned something from the class.

1 comment:

Leslie M-B said...

You certainly deserve applause for all the crap you've put up with this quarter.

I think applauding at the end of the term is a tradition at U. of AgTown. Still, I appreciate it because sometimes it is, I believe, heartfelt.

I love the thought of you being a hairdresser. I'm imagining what you might do with my family and with Beorn. Not to mention the kitties! :)