Like anyone who’s been around the academic block more than once or twice, I’ve had my share of classroom bullies and wack jobs, the sort who disrupt class and become threatening in one way or another, whether it’s to the peace and order of the classroom or to classmates and the instructor personally. In the face-to-face classroom, one expects to encounter some degree of hassle and abuse.
One of the few benefits of teaching online is not having to deal with a certain type of student given to certain types of attitude.
Now comes a woman from the online magazine writing course who, ticked off at a B+ grade on a paper (a query letter for the next assigned article) that really deserved, at best, a C+, sends a rebuttal of all my comments full of all-caps SCREAMING. She suggests that my assessment of her paper was “emotional” (because I had to remind her that my syllabus specifically states “no late papers”—her first paper was late, and when reminded of this policy she said she was taking a vacation and did not plan to turn in the present assignment on time), and demands a complete re-read and reassessment of the thing.
What do you do with someone like this?
Me, I no longer have time for it. At first I thought I’d just forward the whole rant to the departmental chair. But then I thought why bother him with something I ought to be able to handle myself.
But…I don’t want to handle it. I’m royally sick of dealing with garbage like this. And I’m certainly not paid to spend extra hours taking out the garbage.
My response, shot off altogether too quickly, was probably not the best:
I’m not going to quibble with you over the grade on this paper. All I can do for you is offer you advice based on 20 years of experience as a magazine journalist. You want an A on the paper, it’s yours. 100 points.
When it comes to skills courses, grades are irrelevant. What matters is whether you can make it in the field.
And trust me: this one will not.
If I were being paid a full-time salary, or even a fair rate for the hours I put in on a part-time basis, I probably would have gone through her paper line by line by line and responded to every one of her rants. Probably, too, I would not have restrained myself from firmly putting down her explicit insult.
But you know…I simply do not earn enough to justify getting myself exercised over this kind of bullsh!t.
It’s not like she’s going to end up in a hospital doing respiratory therapy or drawing blood or any of the many other trades the junior colleges train students to do. No real business or professional functions will depend on whether this person can write a credible query letter or a credible anything else. No one’s life or death will be determined by whether she can convince an editor to publish a half-baked article.
So, if she thinks she deserves an A on her C+ paper, let her have it. She’ll learn quick enough when she hits the real world.
LOL! If she ever does.
What would you do with a load of abuse from an online student?