Friday, September 12, 2008

Student Behavior

This semester I've had an unusual number of student bad behavior issues, and it's only the third week. Most of them have revolved around e-mail. Without getting specific, I've gotten winners like the student who uses an e-mail address like "sexyboy69@yahoo" which is not only relatively inappropriate to send from when you're sending to a prof, but means I can't see his name. The subject line is "yo" and the body is something like, "What's that paper for class?"

I e-mailed this student back, saying, "Who are you? Which class? What paper?" and got back angry invective from the student for my failure to answer his question. (If he has so much faith in my psychic abilities, shouldn't he fear sending anonymous invective?)

I had a student contact my dean complaining that I hadn't resolved her non-emergency non-problem fast enough when I had assured her I had to working down a list (with actual emergencies and actual problems ranking above her) and I would get to her long before her issue became a problem. She e-mailed me five times and left two frantic voice mails in the space of 24 hours (on a weekend!) demanding I fix her non-emergency non-problem immediately.

I keep having students e-mail me at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night saying, "can u email me back plz right away what is the reading for tomorrow? so i can get it done b4 class. this is important so respond quick. thx." Then they become incensed when I don't respond until Thursday morning, an hour or two before they have to be in class. As if it's somehow my fault they didn't write down the reading and didn't think to e-mail me about it until late Wednesday night.

I've even had a student complain very sarcastically that I was somehow directly responsible for a campus-wide e-mail outage.

It's a minority of students behaving this way, and there's always a mannerless minority of students, but it's an unusually large minority this semester. I had a come-to-Jesus with my classes yesterday about appropriate e-mail etiquette and descriptive subject lines and response times and things that are and are not within my God-like powers, which made me feel surprisingly better. I was slightly anxious that they'd all turn on my like hyenas, but in fact most of them were appalled by the bad behavior and sympathetic -- and just as glad to know *exactly* what I wanted.

I'm experimenting with a few technology-based ways to cut down on the number of questions that students can answer for each other instead of turning to me. I'm hopeful!


Anonymous said...

I just wated you to know that as a past student of yours I always felt you were concise and easy to reach, but then again, I have never felt that I was the center of the universe! Good luck this semester.

firefly-124 said...

If it makes you feel any better, one of my tutees told me today that she had called her prof from work. At 3am. I get that she works third shift, but I sincerely hope it was the prof's office phone and not a home phone that she called. *headdesk* Seriously, I do wonder what people think sometimes.

Matt said...

I seem to remember your reasoning for instructing at ICC being for the "mixed bag" of students so to speak. Well, I guess this will teach you!

No really though, a blackboard site with information to lower the probability of your students doing things like this would probably be a plus.

Anonymous said...

I teach at ISU and actually had my worst email from a student yet just the other day. A student was asking for a favor, then closed her email with "see to it." Yikes.

Pseudonymous said...

I think it would be fun to answer "anonymous" questions in class... so that you can say things like: "and to sexyboy69@yahoo, whomever you are... that answer is ____"

Then watch for the red face.

Okay, that MIGHT be equally inappropriate.

Cara said...

I highly recommend an unlisted home phone number. That's what my prof hubby and I have done. So unless you're on a Bradley sporting team - this happened and we got 10pm phone calls - students'll have a heck of a time finding your home phone.