Monday, April 17, 2006

This is the new rant, same as the old rant

Oh man, oh man. It's that time in the semester where I realize how much work I have still to do over the next two weeks. Plus this month I'm being chased by the constant reminder that I still have no job and no future past around May 15. It's a crappy, busy time. So of coures that means students are EXTRA difficult to deal with these days.

This week, in part so that I'd have time to focus on my own writing, I scheduled group project presentations. For the last three and a half weeks students have been writing and prepping a group paper and presentation. This week is set aside for presentations (two per class per day) and the papers were due today as well.

I went over the calendar IN DETAIL at the beginning of this assignment, I met with groups individually last Monday, and I made them turn in an annotated bibliography (and supposedly have a completed draft of the paper) on Friday, all of which I made clear from day one. So you know what that means.

From the beginning, a student I'll call Nancy was hounding me about Easter weekend. "I'll be gone from Thursdy to Monday, so we might not be able to get done in time," she'd say. "The paper is still due that day," I'd respond, because Easter--though a holiday I celebrate--is not a school recognized holiday. "Work it out with your group so that your part is taken care of before you go." Nancy is very confrontational and tends to be pretty abrasive and self-satisfied. These constant run-ins (and they were constant) were obnoxious, but hey, so are most students. I could handle it.

Then Friday her group comes to me and tells me that in editing the paper they found out she was plagiarizing a good chunk of what she talked about and they only used a paragraph that she actually wrote (of a ten page paper) and that she wasn't even available to talk to over the weekend. Now, since this is a group grade, I have to figure out how to confront Nancy, tell her she'll get a lower grade than the rest of her group, and still keep everyone else happy.

Another student told me that this group assignment was the "worst academic experience of [my] life" because nobody got their parts done on time and kept trying to get her to finish their sections. In the group evaluations that I received today, the group all gave her a lower grade than everyone else.

Another group came up and said they had a shorter paper because one group member turned nothing in.

I don't get it. I've done group papers and projects before, and no one has had such a difficult time with them. Now in the middle of my busiest week I have to deal with all this crap. But a big part of me wants to say "Tough. That's group work. Somebody works harder than everyone else and somebody gets by doing very little. It'll be that way the rest of college and it'll be that way in business." And then I want to say "By the way, I TOLD you this unit moved fast and you'd have to stay on top of things. I'm sorry you or your group didn't, but I'm grading the final product not the effort, so suck it up and move on."

Man I'm tired of students today. Why do I want to be a teacher again?

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