Don’t Hug Them: Dealing With Student Crises
April is the cruelest month, if only in academe, and like many faculty members, I’ve been exhausted for weeks. A yellow coat of pollen covers the benches and windows of both universities where I am an adjunct, and the papers I’m grading are at their longest and most complex, as are my meetings with students.
It’s at this point in the semester that I tend to become more of a stickler. I try my best to stay even-keeled with my students, but the more tired and overwhelmed I become, the less patience I have. That doesn’t mean I grade any harder or start mocking them in class (despite the occasional temptation). It does mean that slackers get less of my sympathy than they might in February.
My classes have been going well this semester. But as always, there are students who stopped posting on the course blog months ago, or failed to turn in an essay, and then ignored my e-mails requesting that they come chat with me during office hours about their endangered grade. They ignored me until now, of course.
This week, as I do once a semester, I spent a few long days in one-on-one student conferences, discussing the drafts of their research papers. For some students, our meeting marked the first time they had been to my office, and for those who were slipping, in terms of their grades, I took the opportunity to let them know where they stood.