Wednesday, September 09, 2009

eventually, you get the hard questions.

when i had worked as a TA, years ago, i deferred all the "hard" (that is, administrative) questions to the head instructor. there was even one prof who told me explicitly,

"i don't mind being the bad guy.
if students complain, send them to me.

as a graduate student, i might have run my own calculus class, but my students knew that i was nobody important. they didn't ask me the hard questions.

now i'm dr. so-&-so, the head instructor .. and there are always student emails in my in-box.


i suppose it happens to everyone, sooner or later.


Anonymous said...

This is one of the reasons our syllabi are long and attempt to cover every contingency. When a student asks for a makeup quiz, there is a policy in the syllabus and they are referred to it. Same for makeup exams. This has the effect of making the syllabus (which students treat as a legal contract) the "bad guy". When my class was canceled after add-drop ended (insufficient enrollment) I took over a calculus class. Since add-drop had ended, I was not allowed (technically, discouraged from) making changes to the syllabus since students had no way of dropping the class if they did not agree with how things were to be run under the new regime. Plus, a detailed syllabus protects you, since every policy is in writing and should complaints go up the ladder, all you have to do is produce the syllabus and the complaint dies (assuming you followed the procedures in it). Just my $.02.

janus said...

had i writ a better, more complete syllabus, then sure: none of this would have been an issue.

that said, maybe for next term i will spend more than an hour, drafting a syllabus.