I am an instructor at SLCC. I know that you usually respond to students, but I have a question regarding students and their conduct not only in my class but also through e-mail. Most of the students I’ve had through the years have been very respectful; they follow the rules set forth during the first class period. Occasionally, however, I have had students’ who choose to follow their own agenda. They think they can make up the rules along the way and behave whatever way they’d like in class. They have no regard for me and for what I do. I often get e-mails that are not only rude but break the 24 hour waiting period that the student is supposed to honor before they reply. I have put this rule in place so that the student will be objective when they contact me. I am often asked about doing extra credit when the student hasn’t even finished their assigned work. The list goes on. I want to be a fair teacher; one who takes into consideration the feelings of the student, but I also feel the need to structure my class so that everyone will gain from the experience. Students who work hard get the kudos—they get to turn in an assignment late because of some extenuating circumstance, for example. I don’t give the same opportunities to students who just want an easy way out. Am I wrong?
In my experience, teachers are pretty flexible and open minded about a student’s idea as long as they know the student is respectful and on the up-and-up. Like you, they know if the particular student has been doing their best in class and will usually follow suit with a positive response.
Since it sounds like you are trying to do this, I provide a short list to help students:
Students need to remember that their teachers have an outside life in addition to their life in academia. They have feelings, too. When you send an e-mail, re-read what you send before you send it. Make sure that you are beyond the angry stage, at least beyond the stage where all you can see is your side of the story. Keep the e-mail to a minimum and show respect to your instructor by the words you use and the suggestions you give. Often, the best thing to say is, “Can we meet soon for a conference? I have some questions about my work,” or “I have some concerns about my grade that I’d like to better understand.”
Time and consideration is what is important.
Follow the rules. Rules are made to be broken, but only (in my humble opinion) when you are doing your part, too. If you think you can change a rule mid-stream because you got a “D” on your mid-term, think again. There is a reason you received a “D” and this may just be the opportunity you need to discover why.
If you are a good student and happen to ask for a favor, respect your teacher if he or she says no. I once asked if a test could be open book—I was taking a short course during the summer and was having a difficult time remembering the terms. The teacher said no. He was sorry he said, but because of a previous “bad” experience with a student, he’d decided to no longer distribute open book tests. I thanked the teacher and did my best.
That’s all that anyone of us can do.