What I Hated the Least Today 138/365: Emails from My Students

College corridors
College corridors

Throughout the term, my students appeared thoroughly disinterested in their studies. It was all fun and games—and then there was the final test. This excited in my unexcitable students bouts of paranormal activity. This manifested itself in a previously unseen increase in questions, typically of the dumb kind: Will this be on the test?What will be on the test?Will you give us questions for the test? (Answers: Could be. — The content of this course. — That would negate the idea of the test, don’t you think?)

Besides nagging me in classes, the students discovered the joys of email spamming. One email from a visiting student from Spain was particularly interesting language-wise. It started with a reasonably regular question about how to sign up for the exam in the electronic system. I did my best to answer, on which the student got back to me, clearly thrilled that we had figured it out:

Hello Teacher,

Ohhh! Now I get it, this exam registration is so so different from Spain hahaha : O

So, If I clicked on the 16.5.16 – 10:00 registration,

It means that my exam is tomorrow monday at 10 am, in the building C8 (The library) in the classroom 687, instead of C4 like any other class, right?

: P I just want to be sure and not get lost tomorrow hahaha.

I replied in the affirmative. In Standard English. I wonder if I got my message across. I should have probably written:

Hey there,

ikr, the System sucks!!

but you got it right lol

see ya

xoxo

A series of less amusing emails followed after I published the first batch of test results. Ever since, I’ve been plagued by complaining students. I’m thinking of setting up an automated response along the lines:

Dear student, I’m sorry to see that you failed your exam. Unfortunately, I cannot arbitrarily change your result so that you pass. Best luck for your retake!

This should be followed by a translation into current speak:

Heya, whatsup, suck it up for fck’s sake and gimme a break. K?

The final K would be read by the student as OK because they wouldn’t get the allusion to the protagonist of Kafka’s The Trial. The whole thing is so Kafkaesque.

34 thoughts on “What I Hated the Least Today 138/365: Emails from My Students

  1. Two years ago, when I was home, I stayed with my friend, who also teaches university. She got oodles of email too, but they were different (she’s not teaching English, but pedagogics). They were snooty and whining. I would have gotten mad. LOL.

    Will these guys be finished in June, or is this their first year in university?

    As I’ve said before; it’s a great thing you can keep up your sense of humour, K …

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    1. The whining kind are the worst. It has precisely the opposite effect on me – my heart hardens against the person complaining 😮 If that’s any relief, my students are freshmen, and I think not all of them will manage to finish their first year. Not as long as I have a say in it 😮 More fun is bound to come, it’s time for test retakes next week.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, when I heard the emails she got … they questioned her response time, and stuff like that. I would have gone ballistic.

        More fun reading to come 🙂

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        1. Questioned her response time? Oh dear… I got a funny email today from a student who took an oral exam with me two days ago – she questions her grade. How can she presume that I even remember her? Funny! I make a point of writing very polite responses and doing so preferably within 12 hours – in case the student wanted to question my conduct, which wouldn’t be that surprising. Overall, I’ll be probably glad to be done with teaching for the moment…

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          1. Makes sense! I might have the opposite problem – I imagine no one remembers me, because why would they, and I’m always surprised when people do remember me and wonder why I should think that they don’t. I seem to be unforgettable. Probably in a bad way.

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          2. I get surprised too, when people remember me. Met an old class mate in 2011, whom I hadn’t seen since 1971. He remembered me right away, and said “why wouldn’t I?!” Guess I feel very insignificant 😊

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          3. Well, yes, you could just as well ask why people wouldn’t remember you as why they would remember you – I prefer the second option. I know that I don’t remember anyone myself, so allow the same omission to others…

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  2. I think the automated response is a great idea….you could have the whole system operating couldn’t you……press 1 if you are unhappy with your result….press 2 if you think you were hard done by….press 3 If you think I should care…….press 4 if you accept your ineptitude has brought about this result…….press 5 if you feel suicidal……..press 6 if you honestly believe you actually studied for the test….press7 if you will be retaking the test……press 8 if I’ll see pigs fly the day you actually pass this course……press 9 if none of the previous prompts answer your inquiry as by now I don’t give a shit….

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  3. This brings back unhappy memories. Unfortunately, in Brazil there is no such concept as the judge’s/examiner’s decision being final, so you have to go through the test question by question and argue the toss with the failing students. One girl thought she could receive a 10 for a one sentence essay on the grounds that there was ‘nothing wrong in it”. The most common complaint was that the test should be marked ‘with more affection’ for the student. Still, it could have been worse. Law teachers get death threats.

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    1. It is frustrating, isn’t it? I don’t think my students accept my decision as final either – several have actually come to review their tests and made me go, just as you write, point by point through the whole thing again and explain my decision. One student argued with me that his incorrect answer was correct. It took a lot of Googling to convince him that he was mistaken. To mark tests with affection? Only those that were written with affection in the first place. Death threats though? I wouldn’t believe it possible. But of course you wouldn’t invent it.

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    1. Thanks 🙂 I’m sort of a pretender, as I only read some Kafka recently – finally. I’m amazed at Kafka’s capacity to describe authentically how this country works. Of course, Kafka is hugely misunderstood because people tend to think that he invented his stories.

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    1. Thank you so much for understanding! While I realise it’s difficult, I was a student myself for a long time, I think students should realise that they’re on a public school and the teacher is not their private tutor. They can’t get such a degree of individual approach, it’s simply impossible, given their numbers. And I can’t see how anyone could blame other than themselves for failing a test…

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      1. I’d imagine the problem comes more from their education – I mean, being a student back in “those days” appeared to be much different than what you describe. We simply dealt with it. I sometimes failed massively but I knew it was my own fault because yes, I simply hadn’t studied. It never ever crossed my mind to blame my teacher for it – what an illusion! But I’d say that’s how we were raised. Nowadays, I dare say, most kids are raised with the “bubble wrap effect” I call it – wrap them in bubble paper so nothing ever happens to them… and Mummy is right there to blame everybody else but her child… The child then grows up thinking it’s always someone else’s fault… Sad things…

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        1. I feel the same – I would hate to blame the young generation, it’s such a commonplace, but at the same time, I remember very clearly that it never even occurred to me to blame anyone but myself for failing an exam. I also never occurred me to argue about my grade. I considered the grade final and just dealt with it, though it often didn’t please me.

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          1. Ohhh yes, the arguing about the grade… It gets worse when the parents are the ones that come up and argue about it… It is getting beyond ridiculous I’m afraid… :-/

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