Once we start heading into the mother lode of grading season (weeks # 5-11), I find it therapeutic to write notes to my students. Don’t get me wrong. Overall, my students are bright and curious undergraduates (and graduate students). But the combination of administrator responsibilities, crises, and large(r) class sizes, can produce “grading fatigue”. More importantly, sometimes they write things that just make me scratch my head.
For example, the theme for my academic research writing course this semester is “the city” and I had one student (who didn’t show up for four classes in the first three weeks) submit a proposal on Switzerland and annotations for references on schizophrenia… My internal response?
Dear Student: Switzerland is a country, not a city. And I’m not sure what schizophrenia and genius have to do with Switzerland… actually I’m not sure what is going on in this reference list at all. Not a good start to your project… :[
Other such internal conversations with my students.
“My country is going through a period of growth and development. Stay away.” Erm… I think in this case, punctuation carries some semantic baggage. Why the period after “stay away”?
Dear Student: Yes, mistakes and failures do happen and that’s why pencils have erasers. I agree. Thanks.
Dear Student: Yes, it is possible for you to lose points for not having common sense. Thanks and have a great weekend.
Dear Students: I put MY name in the sample report because it is my name. YOU should put YOUR name.
Dear Student: It must have been truly scary when “the whole city seemed to be sinking into the sediment”…
“The European Union is, probably, the most stable and powerful economic and political cooperation today.” erm. Dear student: Really? Are you sure about that?
Dear Student: To prophylaxis health is not a verb phrase… I don’t even know what that means… and don’t think that whatever it is, that it is inherent to women… When writing, aim for clear even if it means choosing the simpler word way.
Dear Student: For the umpteenth time, a “questioner” is one who questions. A “questionnaire” is a survey. You passed out 40 questionNAIREs, not 40 questionERs.
I love what I do and my students, something I have to remind myself of after weeks like this one. But I’m really thankful for my co-workers, one of whom posted the above e-card on my FB site after I started posting “Dear Student” notes, which signifies the beginning of serious grading season. Awesome colleagues, quality Earl Grey tea, and Tajik oranges definitely take the edge of piles of grading.