Thursday, March 23, 2006

Boundaries and stalking students...

...and I mean them stalking me, not the other way around. I'm on Spring Break and I'm basically watching a lot of TV and thinking about reading Chaucer's "Legend of Good Women" (which I'm teaching next Monday). I've also been grading midterms in shifts - it's a linguistics course (HEL for those of you who know) and so far they're pretty good - a lot of students have issues with things that they have to memorize (like the Indo-European sound shifts) - they want to know WHY it all happened and I completely understand that. But, the thing is - the sound shift happened a few thousand years ago and we just don't know "why" exactly it happened - at least I, as a medievalist not specially trained in historical linguistics, don't know exactly why it happened. So, most of the students are cool with the whole notion that the class is not really about intuitive reading practices (like a regular lit class) but in some part about just soaking up the material and applying it to specific linguistic situations. Like: "decline this OE a-stem noun"! Some of them find the topic really difficult (we can't all be good at everything) and they kind of "lash-out" at me when I can't explain OE grammar completely in an hour and 20 minutes. This lashing-out takes the form of a general pissiness and a lot of whining and lots of "SIGH! Do we have to know this for the test?"

Having said that, I absolutely adore 85% of my students in both classes - many of them are repeat customers and they are great and brilliant. And they think their geeky medieval professor is at least entertaining if not semi-inspiring. But several of them have taken to stalking me for their midterm grades over spring break - and they're getting a little adamant about it, too! And I'm kind of like "I just got out of bed at 2 this afternoon - I'm currently watching the HGTV 'Design on a Dime' marathon and I totally forgot that I even had midterms to grade!" While the Dutchman feverishly finishes his dissertation, I lay around drinking Coke Zero and eating this really yummy Cajun Crab dip we made (recipe available upon request). I'm starting to feel a little like Jabba the Hutt, but it's an indulgence and I should enjoy it.

I think that one of the reasons they are pursuing me over spring break is because I make myself too available to them. I e-mail them back almost immediately (although I e-mail everyone back right away) - it's because I work at my nice L-shaped desk and my computer's on all the time constantly checking e-mail. I've always admired (and at times have been frustrated by) the boundaries my advisor set between herself and her students. She cordons off her time in a very strict way. I'm not sure I can do this (at least not right now). I love going the extra mile for my students (these are worth it) and so I think I'll just have to settle for a little grade-grubbing pursuit of the professor they know will *always* be there!



At 8:49 PM, Blogger Ancrene Wiseass said...

I have boundary issues, too. I know I should be more stringent, but I just can't seem to make myself do it. I do make some things very clear on the first day: I tell them that I won't look at full drafts of papers outside of office hours, encourage them to meet with me during office hours unless that's impossible, and tell them I won't talk about assignments within the 24 hours before they're due. That helps. But that's about as stern as I can manage to be, for the most part.

Hey, by the way--if you're going to Kalamazoo this year, be sure to stop by my blog and let us know whether you'd like to join in on a blogger meet-up there!


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