Friday, April 30, 2010

Unrealistic Expectations


"April is the cruellest month." 
- T.S. Eliot "The Waste Land"

When I first got hired at the college, I was warned about April.

In academia, April is:

The month of dead grandmothers. Students come in packs to speak tales of woe about dead grandmothers and how these untimely and tragic deaths prevented them from turning in their work on time. Many of these students forgot that these grandmothers already died earlier in the semester.

The month in which students, who are never more than thirty seconds away from a possible text message, suddenly forget how to use the internet at home to turn in their papers. Suddenly, the technology that they avail themselves of in the middle of class is unavailable at home. It never occurs to them to go to the library. To turn in work before the very last second the assignment link is up. To plan ahead. They seem horrified to learn that this doesn't matter to me, and the work is still not accepted. I know. Bitch. (Say it with a snarl.)

The month of unparalleled audacity. "But I need to get at least a C! I'm on a (fill in the blank) - Pell Grant, athletic scholarship, etc, etc." This sentence of course comes from the student you have not heard from since February. Say it with me now. I'm the bitch.

The month of EverythingEveryonePutOffUntilTheEndOfTheSemesterWhichMustGetDoneNOW. This means assessment plans, performance goal plans, things for next semester that must get implemented before next semester in order to be available next semester, wouldn't-you-like-to-serve-on-the-NCA-self-study committee (NO) ... you get the picture.

The month of the Extra Credit Demand. You'd think I'd be used to the demands by this time. If I wanted something from someone, I like to think I'd ask first. But generally I get the demand instead. My syllabi (which I know no one reads) has a clear no extra credit policy. Still, they ask and then are put out. (Yes, bitch.) To all you teachers out there, here's the response that works: Why should I do more work to accommodate the fact that you did not do enough work? Even the ones with the fake-grandma-mourning clothes on can't speak to that one.

The month of I Used to Love You But I Had to Kill You (don't worry administration, not a veiled threat -- that's a reference to the Guns 'N Roses song ... you remember them, right?) Everyone who looked rosy in August now has a gray pallor. My office, which was once festive and funky, is now just cluttered and dusty and sad. I'm sick of my own itunes mixes, my own lesson plans, and my own voice. It's true. I am a bitch even to myself.

And I do have to tip my hat and my heart to the single student out of the 5000 on campus whose grandmother actually did die (or uncle, or brother, or mother, or friend) and no one believes her because, well, it's April, and let's face it, timing matters. I know. Bitch.

This year, April has brought winds of 70 + mph for days. Snow (twice!) It's been 80, then 40, then 20, then 70. Open toed shoes? Parkas? Mittens? Scarves? Tank tops? Stop!

Today is the last day of April. Go please, April, go gentle into that good night. Rage not against the dying of the light. (Sorry Dylan Thomas).

And if you're a grandmother, hold on for twenty-four more hours. You'll be safe tomorrow.