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[personal profile] mackknopf
A Machiavelli quote comes to mind about it being better to be feared than loved.  Fortunately, I don't really require fear from my students (respect will do), and I am not into teaching for the adulation.  I am in it because I like to make a difference by helping people to write, argue, and express themselves better.  .

Currently, it looks like I will have about five or six students left after the rest withdraw by tonight's deadline.  Thursday is the last day to get out of English Composition with a "W," which will allow them to take another such class again.  Students will lose the money invested in paying for the course, but it is generally better than likely receiving an "F" and ruining their GPA.  At this point in the semester, I have sufficent grades and accumulated absences (which reduce grades) to advise whether passing the class with a "C" is likely. 

I've emailed people, talked to them in person, and even called to make sure they know about the deadine and their current academic status in my class.

I've written the English Composition Department head, and she fully supports me, especially since she herself failed all but nine students from a class last semester: "You're in good company for being the heir-apparent departmental meanie."  She told me to take late papers and absences seriously, and that she would back me fully. 

Also, I thought readers might like to see what one of the former students wrote me today.  He wanted the special favor of having absences caused by working another job excused,  and I declined to do so.  After telling me the absences were mostly caused by that job, he later blamed them on being sick.  However, he couldn't provide a doctor's excuse for the periods needs.  After I stood my ground and refused to make an exception, he emailed the following:

"I also wanted to tell you that I have never in my life met a teacher so blatantly unwilling to work with students on even the simplest of issues. I will be withdrawing from the university following this semester-- a decision I can attribute almost entirely to you. I sincerely hope that you aren't as much of an ass of a lawyer as you are a teacher, as I suspect that you'll run out of clients pretty quick if so.  Enjoy the rest of the semester with the 5 or 6 students who didn't drop your class or avoid it entirely. 

Little does he know, being a lawyer requires a very thick skin.  I only get worried if I think I need to watch out for ambushes in the UAB campus parking lot.  I've practiced in the area of law statistically most likely to result in attacks on the attorney (domestic and family law), so am used to angry people.  Interestingly enough, criminal defense law is relatively safe, because to most defendants, you are their only hope!

More later on other subjects, as that's enough of that.  I need to do a few more tasks for paying clients, not my moonlighting part-time job.
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March 2012

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