Sunday, August 28, 2016

From the mouths of babes

"Everybody gets tested on the same standards. It's just not fair"

--A fourth-grade teacher, quoted in an article on the "unfairness" of Common Core reading standards.

"We take the test to see how teachers have teached their kids, like if they've teached them nothing and they don't know any answers, teachers get rated and they might get fired because they might not be doing their job...It's creepy because you try your best, but some kids just can't learn, and a teacher will get fired because of those kids."

--A ten-year-old student quoted in the same article.

The first quote struck me as an eyeroll-inducing example of ed-school doublespeak; the second quote, on the other hand, explained the "unfairness" angle clearly. 

I think I'd like to see more ten-year-olds writing about education. 

Dr. Amelia smells fresh meat

Orientation ruins students

Quite a bit happens to my merry band of freshpersons prior to their arrival in my classroom. They say buh bye to their high school friends, siblings and pets (for many the pet seems to be the most missed, but perhaps that is another post). They shove their gaming consoles, new sheet and towels and shower shoes in the car and ease on down the road to the university.

They move in. Mom cries. Then, they get wrecked.

Freshperson orientation seems to consist of

1. Playing stupid ice breaker games with a group of 19 other newly liberated souls.

2. Learning who the kid who has the best fake ID to go to the local libation dealer and bring back social lubrication so that the newly liberated can practice their liberty through secret intoxication.

3. Hearing important tips from the upper-classperson orientation leaders such as
*That required freshperson class is the easiest A you'll have in college
*Don't worry if you didn't do the common reading. Proffies never ask about it.
*Frat row has the best parties with free beer for girls
*Proffies don't care if you book your trips over university holidays with just a couple of extra days on each end.
*Don't let the RAs catch you drinking. But everybody drinks. All the tea-partying time.

4. They confusedly buy their textbooks. Our bookstore (a Silos and Peasants branch) has now stopped carrying textbooks in the store. You have to go in and order them and come back another day after they have paged them from the warehouse. So you can't look for used books with the kind of notes/highlights that might actually help you.

There's a big freshperson gathering where they mill around on the sportsball field holding those candles with the paper bibs on the bottom while not hearing some guy on a stage talking about integrity or morality or tradition or something. They show in my class the next day. with the idea that college is a party (I had a student describe it as being like summer camp), professors are pushovers and as long as you show up (most of the time) you should be just fine.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The University of Chicago warns incoming freshmen that they should expect no safe spaces

The University of Chicago sent a letter to incoming freshmen addressing the ideas of "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings." 

I think this is a great idea, but I have a couple of colleagues who think that there should be accommodations made for student trauma.  (One colleague is worried about students with PSTD.) 

What say all of you?

- Great Lakes Greta

Welcome to the Tea-Partying Party

So we're going to have an all-college "summit" on enrollment this fall, a full day of required meetings for all faculty and staff.  Full day as in 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  On a Friday. 

I know that the way we manage our classrooms can affect the reputation (and enrollment) of the college.  I also know that my fellow full-time faculty are really, really good; they have to be good in the classroom, given the nature of our particular college. 

I also know that I am not a retention specialist, an advisor, a counselor, or an enrollment expert.  I also know that our administration will do practically nothing that the faculty suggests that may positively impact enrollment.  At LD3C, we faculty have very, very little input on scheduling -- and scheduling is big problem affecting enrollment -- and history has taught us that whenever we're asked to contribute in these summits, our suggestions are often ignored. 

At one such summit a year ago -- something about general issues at the college -- the administration invited us to speak openly ... and then roundly and loudly put down anyone who did so.  It got quiet in a hurry ... and we were chastised for that, too. 

We've been promised lunch, though.  I hope there's coffee.  It goes well with whiskey.

I used to love my job.  I used to respect my profession. 

- Great Lakes Greta

Welcome to Fall 2016

College Misery is in its 6th year as a dying and inconsequential blog (we've always been inconsequential and dying...and small) and we are happy to welcome new correspondents. If you have stories and tales about the misery of college proffie life, we'd love to share them with our readers.

Over in the sidebar are two links, the top one - with the green envelope icon - will allow you to write a post the way you want it to appear on the site. (Make sure to include a user name / pseudonym at the bottom.) It goes into a queue where the moderator will check it for formatting and post it within a few hours.

The second link further down to the RGM (Real Goddamned Moderator) sends a direct message to me. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I'm Annie From Abelard and I Made Friends, Apparently

I moved your stuff.
Now help me with my quadratics.
I'm not the most... emotionally astute person. Some doctors have said I have Asperger's, some have said I don't. Neither here nor there. Bottom line is that I generally don't make a ton of friends where I go. I didn't really have any until I got to high school, at which point I had a resounding two. Then one in college. And a glance at my RMP reviews show that "Cold/chilly" and "lack of understanding" are frequent descriptors my students use for me, unfortunately. But I can now say, with no small degree of enthusiasm, that my fellow professors genuinely like me.

I'm moving across the building to a refurbished office, and I'd been griping a little bit about having to move my stuff (which I would have had to do tomorrow). Just more or less saying that I'm not looking forward to it. A lot of educational paraphernalia (i.e. crap) tends to coalesce around me and I can't really part with any of it so moving shop is always a huge hassle. But I came in today to find my workspace in my department office completely barren and wiped clean. I start freaking out, terrified that maintenance had thrown it out or that everything had been a big joke and I was fired or something. Then I see a note on my chair.

"I wonder where all your stuff could be? Hmmm... I do wonder, indeed. If you could wave your magic wand and have it appear someplace, where would that be?

~(My friend/mentor's first name)"

Relief flooded over me and I calmed down. I wasn't fired. My stuff was somewhere. It occurred to me to check my new office, assuming that my mentor had moved it as a nice gesture. When I arrived, I found that not only had my things been moved, but my computer and phone had been set up, my supplies were neatly organized on my desk, and my "crap" had been put into legal boxes on the side of the room in a slightly more organized fashion than it had been previously. Seemingly out of the ether (in this case, nearby cubicles), my entire department coalesced and shouted things (I think they couldn't decide on "surprise" or "congratulations"). They had some party platters of cheese and crackers and sparkling apple juice.

The fact that they threw me a little morning party was really, really nice. And I was particularly flattered that they helped me get set up in my new office because I had been sweating the idea that they resented me leaving or that they wanted the position themselves. So this gave me some closure as a sort of blessing from them. Upon further inspection I saw that they had put up a sort of billboard with pictures of each of them making funny faces and taken the liberty of taping a list of their names with their extensions next to my phone. For someone who assumes that any time I reach out to someone, it's unwelcome, this clear message saying "keep in touch" was something else.

Maybe this isn't so bad after all.


PS from the RGM: I'm waiting for someone to tell me that blackboard could not possibly be showing quadratics...10, 9, 8, .....