oxymoron67: (Default)
I was going to post the worst of the sentences my students wrote for the Final -- a few of them are planning on visiting Utopia over Winter Break and the less we say about the sentences with "Aggregate" the better -- but then I ran into a colleague in the departmental office.

Colleague: Do you know how to calculate percentages?
Me: (stunned) ... Yes.
Colleague: IF a student got 43 out of 50?
Me: It's an 86. You just multiply it by two.
Colleague: So that's how percentages work?
Me: Well, technically, you take the number of correct answers, divide by the total number of answers then multiply by 100.
Colleague: But that's not what you did. You just multiplied by two.
Me: (flabbergasted) Well, fifty is a special case.... is your final a fifty point test?
Colleague: Yes.
Me: Okay, if you take the total number of correct answers and multiply it by two, you'll get your percentages.
Colleague: THANKS! (He returns to his office.)

Okay... how does one become a tenured full professor without knowledge of basic math skills? His specialty is the performing arts, but still.

I mean... percentages! It's not like he was doing Calculus.
oxymoron67: (no bear)
Prof: I'm bringing in my afternoon class around 1:00 on Thursday for their midterm.
Me: That's fine.
Prof: Do I have to be here?
Me: It's your class.
Prof: Yes, but the test in online, and YOU'll be here, so why do I have to be here?
Me: Bluntly? YOU are paid to teach this class. *I* am not.
Prof: Still...
Me: If you are not here with your class, the class will be cancelled. It's YOUR class and YOUR responsibility. Not mine.

Also... if this test is online, why not just give them a week to take it and not spend any class time with it at all? Especially since you let it be open book.
oxymoron67: (Default)
But this got to me today.

One of our new professors made a reservation to use the speech lab. Normally. this would be fine, even good. However....

This professor is going to be in Kuwait for a week for a conference. She has been looking for substitutes for her classes... however, she doesn't think she needs to pay anyone for this and the department won't.

As a result, no one is willing to substitute. I was asked, I said no. Well, almost no one... a first term adjunct was pretty much coerced into doing it, as well as one another adjunct who seems to be incapable of saying "no."

This new professor? She was also the one who spent the first day of classes IN HER OFFICE... not you know, teaching her classes.

She's clearly a keeper.

Anyway, I will not babysit her students. She needs to get a substitute. Why?

1) She is paid to teach her students... I and my staff are not.

2) It sets a dangerous precedent. I've had arguments with professors who would just walk in and start playing on-line, thinking that my staff and I would do everything, and they could just there with there thumbs up their asses. I've informed them that it's still their class, their responsibility.

Tomorrow should be fun.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Because my college has a record number of students AND because there are construction projects, the college is short on classrooms.

So, the powers that be asked if we could open up one of the labs for overflow. I said that I was fine with this, but, for scheduling purposes, I needed to be notified.

No notifications ever came. On the first day of class, we discovered that an Intro to Communication Studies class was scheduled for one of the labs. The professor moved that.

I thought the story was over.

Imagine my surprise this morning, at the start of the third week of the semester, when I am informed by my supervisor that a philosophy class has been scheduled for one of the labs on Thursdays. The professor was complaining that the door was locked and he couldn't get in.*

This class has never met in the lab. I do not know if the professor moved it or if it was cancelled those first two Thursdays or what. I e-mailed the professor, letting him know that we'll unlock the door, and if it is locked, to call me.

That this got to this level is upsetting. It doesn't say anything complimentary about the professor.

*Why he didn't go to security to get in is beyond me. Seriously.. isn't that problem solving 101? Apparently he tried to move the class, but according to building management, EVERY SINGLE CLASSROOM on campus is in use on Thursdays at 10:30.
oxymoron67: (no bear)
... and I'm already annoyed with our new professor.

She's teaching a section of our communication skills for non-native speakers class. This class has a lab component to it, specifically for focused practice. These labs don't meet the first week of classes. Her class's lab hour was today, and since the college, in its infinite wisdom, doesn't tell the students not to show up for the first lab, she showed up here to hold class.


She told me that for the first week of the lab, she figured they could cover five chapters in the book, because she "read the whole book over the weekend, and there are only two exercises in each chapter."

I do not know what book she read, but it certainly wasn't the one we use. Our book has, depending on the chapter, lots and lots of exercises.

Also, our new prof seems to think that her class will sit through one straight hour of rote listen and repeat drill work. Folks, I can only stand drill work for maybe ten minutes, and my attention span is infinitely larger than that of most of my students.

Drill work is boring. I'm not saying it isn't useful: it is, but in much shorter bursts.

Then she went all apeshit because the room she was assigned for her Intro to Communication Studies course was our other lab, C214. Which led to this conversation:

New Prof: This is unacceptable. What are you going to do about it?
Me: I can't do anything: the college assigned you this room.
New Prof: But I can't have class in here. We do lots of physical stuff.
Me: I understand, but this is the room you were assigned.
New Prof: Do you have any empty rooms?
Me: Yes (I point to the other computer lab)
New Prof: That's not going to work either. (Calls to my office mate) Well, what can you do about this?
Officemate: Nothing. You need to get in touch with the person in charge of this.
New Prof: Who is this person?
Officemate: I don;t know. The person who was in charge of it left.
Me: You should just have class in here and then go to the department and straighten it out.
New Prof: No. I will find an empty classroom. This is unacceptable.
Me: Yes, you said that.

She did find an empty classroom, but that room is usually used by our GED program, and they run on a different calendar than we do. I doubt she'll be able to stay there for more than a few weeks.

Oh, and she left all her textbooks at home, so I let her use mine.


While this was happening, I was trying to finalize the lab's schedule. We lost four classes with lab hours attached to them. I'm not surprised by any of them: one was late night, one was a Saturday class and the other two met at 6:45 and 8:00 am respectively.

I noticed that, from last week to today, a number of professors had changed classes, I have to run to the department tomorrow to see who is teaching what.

I'll talk more about my plans for torturing aggressively educating my students.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Today, I spent most of the morning in a seminar all about our new ePortfolio system.

Our ePortfolio program is one of the more advanced (perhaps THE most advanced) in the country, which is amazing considering the ePortfolio platform we are currently phasing out was Godawful.

No, seriously.

I'm a tech-friendly guy: I use tech in my classrooms all the time. My students create and edit their own audio and video clips, and I create audio and video stuff for them. I use Blackboard extensively.

Yet, I refused to use our ePortfolio system.

1) The limit on file size was a bit daunting.
2) The interface sucked out loud.
3) It was a complicated multi-step process, and if you did the least little thing wrong, you had to start all over.
4) The server it was on crashed like a 1973 Ford Pinto: often and catastrophically.


So, in my classes, I'd say "You all know what ePortfolio is. If you do something in this class that you're proud of, go ahead and post it there."

The new system is much, much simpler. The interface makes A LOT more sense.

I may not include it with my Fall class. I'm planning on doing a number of new things in the Fall (or else I get bored), but I probably will in the Spring.

The seminar itself was kind of boring at first. Mostly because the first presenter read from her Powerpoint to us. (I LOATHE this. I can read. If you're giving a presentation and all you;re doing is reading from the Powerpoint, sit your ass down, I can read it myself.)

She also punctuated every third sentence with a cough.

So, I was totally bored by the time Prof. Asthma sat down.

Oh, and there were no snacks at first. They didn't come in until Prof. Asthma had started her talk, and we couldn't access them until she sat down. They were in front of the screen, so if we got up... we'd block the screen. Hmmph.

Then they gave us an overview of the new ePortfolio system. I'd already played with it earlier, so I knew some of this stuff.

But it was still a good overview.

Then we were supposed to get hands-on time, but we never did because my fellow seminar participants asked question after question. In their defense, most of the questions were on-point. But two people in particular were ... um... let's just say that their phasers were set on stupid.

One was in out College Now program, which works with the high schools which are affiliated with us. She was obsessed with seeing what the software company had to say about program assessment. Which we can;t see, because the contract we signed didn't include it. We're doing our own assessment stuff.

But she wouldn't accept that for an answer. Ten of us, myself included tried to tell her this.

The other person was the adjunct coordinator in one of our academic departments. She wanted to know what she had to tell her adjuncts, and could they just give her a handout because her adjuncts REFUSED TO USE E-MAIL.

A few years ago, I came across someone like that. They wanted to make a reservation to use one of the computer labs. I told them to e-mail me the information, because a hard copy means fewer mistakes. He said that he didn't use e-mail and got all assy about it.

So, I told him, "Look, I've been using e-mail since the early 80's. By using e-mail I'm only asking yu to be two decades behind the times. You can manage that, right?"

He complained to my boss, I refused to apologize. He never used the lab. No great loss.

Anyway, the seminar.

Then adjunct coordinator woman said something that struck me as even dumber. Her department requires all its students to have an ePortfolio, it doesn't require students to put ANYTHING IN IT.

This is like saying, "You have to turn in a ten page paper. I can be blank, mind you, but you have to turn it in."


Despite dealing with these people, the seminar iteself was a success. I enjoyed it and got a lot out of it.
oxymoron67: (Default)
One of our adjuncts came by the lab to vent. He's taking part in this year's version of Web 2.0 You remember, the one I dropped out of because of the epic stupidity.

Well, my colleague was tapped to lead the conversation tomorrow. His subject? Wikipedia.

He has to present for 45 minutes on Wikipedia and then have an exercise for the other instructors to do, ending with a question and answer/reflective learning session.

Let's call my colleague Andy. (Not his real name) Well, Andy couldn't come up with anything besides "Look up random piece of information."

I came up with this:

1) Have everyone pick a random name out of an envelope.
2) Each person has to go to Wikipedia and find the entry for said person.
3) Each instructor must then upload an update, including a total falsehood about their person.

Not only does it subvert the assignment (which is stupid. What academic needs a hour long tutorial on Wikipedia?), it actually meets all the parameters: the instructors will have to think about the lie they'll tell, decide how trollish they want to be, and then discuss what they learned about this exercise in creative disinformation.

I may use this in my classroom.

Andy laughed but was hesitant. He claims that the people that run this seminar already don't like him, and that, since they're humorless, they wouldn't appreciate this.

I told him to say that we were brainstorming and that I came up with it. Most of the people in that room will laugh and say "Oh, that Sean!" and the rest will just shake their heads and say, "That is something Sean would come up with."

So we'll see.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Dear fellow faculty member/work friend,

I understand that you are part of one of our Center for Teaching and Learning's seminars and that it conflicts with your Friday class.

However, asking me to substitute for you... when your field is business and mine is linguistics AND with no offer to, you know, compensate me for it is out of line. I am not giving up three hours of my life on three Fridays for nothing.

Also, this class meets for three hours once a week on Fridays. Knowing the CLT seminar schedule, you should not have accepted the class. Yes, I know you're an adjunct, but you'll be missing 25% of the class. How can you call that effective teaching?

I politely said no. Please don't bring it up a FOURTH time when next we see one another, or said politeness may end.


Dear professor who is teaching Voice and Diction,

While I would not get into the topic of acoustic phonetics when I teach the class, I suppose that it is a topic that is appropriate for the course.

However, I don't think that it should be the opening topic. In a class about improving one's articulatory skills, shouldn't the class begin with a discussion of either the sounds of English or its absurdly complicated stress system?

Also, this is the first week of labs. We mostly just do an "intro to the equipment" sort of thing. And our equipment, while it can do some very basic spectography, isn't the right equipment to study it on.

So, expect to be disappointed on Friday, when the only speech phenomena I can show on our equipment are stress and aspiration.

I remain confused.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Dear Prof,

Yes, I know you wanted to videotape those last four or five students who weren't videotaped yet.

But you didn't reserve the equipment for today. Other people did, which is why it was unavailable.

YOU do not get to be angry at ME because of your screw-up.

Also, when sending a student to plead your case/get the equipment, please do not send the single dumbest student in your class. I had to explain everything six times to your littlest braintrust. This child was so dense that I felt dumber just talking her. I had to send one of my student workers over to your class with The Intellectual Black Hole of Your Class to explain.

oxymoron67: (Default)
... in the interests of equal time... here are some stupid things that college professors say.

1. "One of my students texted me while he was in another class and I thought it was wonderful."

A few points here....

A. Why do your students have your personal phone number? That's a recipe for disaster.
B. So, it's fine that a student stops paying attention in another class to text you?
C. Because if the above is the case, then you clearly have no issue with students texting during your class. Oh wait, you DO!

2. "Students are texting all through my class and I don't know what to do."

Seriously, you don't have the spine to say "If you text during my class, I will take points off your grade"? And then follow through with it. POINT OUT the people who are texting, and deduct from their grades. A little public display of anger goes a long way.

If you don't have the spine necessary to control a classroom, why are you in this profession?

Or are you one of those people who wants to be friends with their students? Because it doesn't work that way. You can either be friends with your students, or you can be an effective instructor. I've yet to see anyone who can do both.

3. "I've just given up where Wikipedia is concerned."

Is it really so hard to say "Wikipedia is a great place to get an overview of a subject, but you can't use it as a source in your research."

Also, by giving up, you make everyone else's job harder, jackass.

4. "I just don't think we should assign essays anymore. We should concentrate on teaching them how to text."

I... what? Essays are more than writing assignments. They are exercises in critical thinking and organization. And they already know how to text.

5. "The explosion of Wikipedia, as a non-profit, and the community it created shows how wrong the for-profit business model is."

This is what I said in response to that:

"But Wikipedia has had lots of problems. For example, at one point, Wiccans and Pagans were fighting with Classics experts over Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the Hunt. To say that Wikipedia is this happy community where everyone holds hands in a field while singing 'Kumbaya' is a gross misrepresentation of what Wikipedia is."

6. "When my students ask for extra credit, I tell them, that when they remember to bring their books to class, that's extra credit. When they've done the assignments on time, that's extra credit."

(The same person who said the first quote said this one. She's special.)

So... you give out extra credit for DOING WHAT IS EXPECTED? Way to lower the bar. Yes, we have many high risk (in terms of dropping out) students, but you're now infantilizing them.

7. I don't know how to adapt the internet for my classes. I've never adapted anything for class before.

Really? Never? I adapt stuff all the time, from books to essays to poetry, adapting technology is the same basic thing.

8. "We don't need to do teach speaking skills or do any accent reduction in because all accents are correct."

In theory, sure. But in the real world, if the HR people have to choose between someone who has a very thick Bengali (or Spanish or even a different regional accent) and someone who doesn't, the one they can understand wins.
oxymoron67: (Default)
...I don't think I have enough patience for this job.

Today, for example. We had a class come in at 1:00 to be videotaped. First, the professor (someone I genuinely enjoy working with usually) didn't tell her little cherubs that they were going to be videotaped. Then, she didn't give them anything to do after the videotaping. So, as more people finished, it became harder to control the class, and the professor was in with the students being videotaped, conducting the interviews.

So, at one point, the class is quite loud, and I tell them to be quiet. When this doesn't work, I take over the speakers of all the computers in the room and yell into them to be quiet.

I then point out two people who had actively been avoiding being videotaped and who were sitting around chatting. I asked what they were doing, more than a little acidly. They claimed they were rehearsing, and that I was being rude and owed them an apology.

I'm sorry, no. Even on the off chance that you were rehearsing, which, given how you were sitting together (it takes five of you to do this? Also, I've seen litters of puppies that make less contact with one another.) is unlikely, you were being WAY TOO SHOUTY. No apology will be forthcoming.

Then, other students start giving me attitude. I shut that down with a "you want to be treated like adults, act like adults." They stopped, realizing that they couldn't win.

They were also reasonably quiet the rest of the time, except for the three who decided to sing. SING. I didn't realize that this class was full of bloody six year olds.
oxymoron67: (no bear)
A confession that will shock no one: I have a low tolerance for stupidity.

So, in letter form, what has irritated me: )


oxymoron67: (Default)

October 2013

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