Friday, December 4, 2009

End of Semester Angst

The proverbial chickens are coming home to roost. Of course, I have never lived on a farm, never spent any time with chickens, didn't even know they strayed away from home during the daytime.
But I DO know about students, and some of mine are hurting. There was a lot of reported illness, some quite serious, in my sections. At least one student had a fairly severe case of swine flu, and was hospitalized for a weekend, throwing up blood. Many were quite ill with other kinds of flu, and could not come to class for over a week.
One of these just returned, not quite well, and unfortunately for him, he did not keep up with the work. Since there is no time left, I gave him two days extra to finish his paper, due Tuesday, but asked that he combine it with the earlier research paper, the definition of the topic, to form the combined definition and causal essay. He did not come to class yesterday, when that combined essay was due for peer review. And he did not email me. I think he has given up.
Since that student had already written the definition paper earlier in the semester, this was merely a matter of typing up the two together. But he didn't try to do it, apparently.
Another student told me, after getting back his failing causal essay (an essay I spent a month and a half preparing them to write), that he didn't understand how to write a causal essay or how to take information from his sources to do that. Meanwhile, he lives nearly next door to me, and could have knocked on my door any number of times to ask for help. He has delivered papers to my door before, and not been shy generally about requested assistance. It is hard at this point to help him.
When this happens, I feel as if I am the one who has slipped up. My heart beats fast, and I relive that anxiety dream where one goes to take an exam without ever having attended the class.

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