HEADLINE: One Student Makes Teaching Well Worth Low Pay
December 20, 2012
At the end of every semester, I have the chore of responding to student emails. Once students have received their grades, they email me in flocks to reconsider my grading standards because they really need an A to boost their GPA. Or because they can’t tell their parents the grades they earned. Or because they came upon some rough times this semester. Or because they only missed a few classes. And I respond with something (exactly) like this:
Dear Student X,
Your grade will remain an F (or C or B). You had over 5 absences, you were late multiple times, you came to class many times unprepared, and the work you did do was of poor quality. If you want to appeal this grade, you can write to the Director of the Writing Program.
But then. Lo! And behold! I get an email from a student, who earned an A, who wants to see my comments on his final paper entitled “Black Is Beautiful Until the Movie Starts: A Look at How African American Males Are Portrayed in Film and Television.” I know! It was amazing. He followed directions. He was smart and original in expressing his ideas. I wanted to hug him after I read it, but then he topped it all off with ASKING TO SEE MY COMMENTS. He cared and used what I say regarding his writing. He wrote, “As I continue my education, I would like to use this paper as a base and build on it. Seeing what you had to say about my writing would be helpful.” And I’m like “FUCK YEAH, DUDE.” I mean, “Absolutely! If you’re comfortable sending me your mailing address, I’ll mail it to you.” And so I did. And that’s how 1 student can make the entire semester worth low pay, no office, no benefits, and no job security worth it. I can die happy, in love with teaching and students and the higher education system and all of life.