Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dear Student, VIII

Dear Student,

It's been just about a month since I wrote the last letter to you. (Which reminds me...I wonder if you remember what goblet cells do. No, actually, I don't want to know if you know. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.) And here we are, on the day of the comprehensive exam, and I find myself writing again. Did you know that in just over seven hours, you will be done with me? That's provided you pass the class. Which I hope you do, because I think I've had enough of student behavior to get me through the summer and then some.

(Ah, summer. I can't wait because guess what? I don't teach in the summer!)

What has caused me to put thoughts on paper this time? No, it's not your lack of knowledge per se or your inability to pay attention. It's not even the fact that you might walk into class a bit late each day. (I got used to that action a long time ago.) No, it's a little fact that I stated at the beginning of the semester. A fact that you, apparently, have forgotten.

Here. Let me remind you of what happened in January...

On the first day of class we spoke about the syllabus and all the details of the course. I know, I know, I'm asking a lot here: for you to go back in your memory almost 17 weeks, when in reality, you probably don't remember what you had for breakfast yesterday morning. But yes, go back if you can. Or better yet, pull that syllabus out of your binder and look at it. Because I gave you a hard copy of the syllabus and on it is written: There will be an opportunity for extra credit (25 points maximum).

Yes, I am required by the department to offer extra credit, and so I do. At the time, I explained that I would most likely offer five opportunities at five points each for our maximum number of points (5 x 5 = 25, in case you needed a math refresher). I also explained that doing and handing in the extra credit was very important. (Notice the lack of big words there, because I want you to understand everything I say the first time. As if.)

I even went so far as to give you an example of a student (unnamed, of course) who missed his goal grade by a few points, simply because he didn't turn in the extra credit. Yes, I remember stating clearly how those extra credit points could make a difference to a grade. In fact, I said the same thing at least the first two times I announced that the extra credit opportunities were available and their due dates.

Are you still with me, Student? Do you know where this letter is going? I'm sure anyone else reading this letter does, but might be chatting with the wisenheimer next to you right about now (don't know what a wisenheimer is, go look it up!), or even more likely, you're texting your friend about the new nail color polish from OPI. (I like California Raspberry, by the way.)

So let me provide you with a little information that might not be obvious to you.

Once the class is effectively over--as is this one, considering this is exam week after all--you cannot ask to turn in extra credit that you never bothered to do in the first place. In fact, after the turn-in date for each extra credit assignment, you cannot ask to turn it in. If I grant you permission to turn the assignment(s) in after any due date, I'd have to offer the same option to everyone else who didn't turn the work in.

You see, there's a reason the assignment is termed extra credit. It requires extra work and the people who take it upon themselves to do the work within the allotted time frame will be granted extra points. So by allowing you to turn your assignments in whenever you want would be penalizing the students who did as I asked and took the opportunities when they were given.

I'm sorry you're sitting ten points away from a B, and I'm sorry that you have to try to make those ten points up with a good grade on the comprehensive. But if you can find the time to do the extra credit now, you could have found the time to do the extra credit when it was assigned. (Okay, let's be honest. I'm not sorry at all.)

I do wish you the best of luck with any of your future endeavors, but I hope you've learned at least two things from this class: 1. What a goblet cell does, and 2. That you, and only you, are responsible for yourself, your actions, your grade, and your life.


Your Teacher

P.S. I know how much people of your generation like memes. So here you go:


S. B. House said...

I always enjoy these letters. Though this time, as I was reading the line, "you probably don't remember what you had for breakfast yesterday morning," I thought, 'Yesterday. Ha! I don't remember what I had for breakfast today.' This, of course, got me trying to recall what I had eaten for breakfast... I paused what I was doing and felt a little bad that I had already forgotten. I mean really, it's only 9 in the morning, how can it be gone already. Trying to force the thought out of my mind and get on with the day I took a bite of the toaster waffle in my hand. Oh. Yeah. That's what I'm having for breakfast today. Guess it's one of those days when I'm going to need a second pot of coffee.

T said...


Christina said...

I eat toasted oats every morning, so I never have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast. But I wouldn't worry if I were you: I actually do know many people who said they wouldn't know what they ate, either. It's not a reflection of the type of person you are! Thanks for reading. Both of you.