Respecting students

I kept writing, over and over, but in different words, “If a student comes to class and has trouble, I am happy to help.” Does that mean when they don’t come to class, I’m not happy to help? Yes, it does.

If the student comes to class, does the work- or attempts to do the work, and comes to me to ask for help, I am much more likely to give it. Because I think they are asking for help. They’re not understanding what I want or how to do what I am asking and so I will try another way to help them. They AREN’T asking me to do the work for them or to let them get out of doing it.

But if they come in, after not having come to class for weeks, and say, “I don’t know how to do this,” I don’t help them much. I say, “Yes, because I spent last week, when you weren’t here, discussing this and going over it with the class.” Then I give them a two minute synopsis, which is rarely enough (or I wouldn’t have spent an hour on it in class) and tell them to go to the tutoring center. And, I will admit, it is often because they are (explicitly as well as implicitly) telling me that they don’t want to do it and I should excuse them from the work.

I don’t have any patience with that.

I have lots of patience with people who had emergency surgery, whose grama died, who get the work done anyway. I don’t have much at all with students who were hung over and don’t get the work done and expect me to give them an extension.

It is my perception that a student who has been working in the class and says “I don’t get it” actually doesn’t get it. It is also my perception that a student who hasn’t come to class and says that might could have gotten it if they had shown up.

A student who has been clearly attempting to do the work, even if they haven’t succeeded well, is exciting to help. I’ll work with them for an hour happily. I’ll take their paper and write all over it day after day, if they’re willing to do the work early so they can get feedback and redo it. If a student says they need help and is willing to put in extra work to get it, I’m happy to give it.

A student who has not attempted to do the work and then asks for help is usually meaning “Can I turn this in late?” and sometimes even “Can I just not turn this in at all?” Most often they’ll come right out and say that. And to them I say no.

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