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This School Year Was a Lesson in Boundaries

I’m nearing the end of term, and this semester was particularly challenging in terms of students. I taught what we refer to as “the off semester” cohort, which means that they are usually students who failed the course last semester, and the classes are generally more weak. I also taught the remedial version of the course for students who struggled with their high school class and get an extra hour of instruction.

The exam is tomorrow, and I am so.ready.to.be.done.

About a year ago, I was posting about a particular student who was incredibly challenging. Well, this semester I had about 4 students similar to her (including having her in my class again...). It was so utterly exhausting that I made an appointment with the Access Center (the place where student accommodations are organized and administered) to figure out strategies for next semester. The meeting was good, and as it turns out, the director of the center had had multiple meetings about those same students in the previous week . I am not the only teacher who is at the end of their rope with these students. Since the exam is on Monday, I’ve been receiving more emails since the students are studying this weekend. My challenging student sent me 10 emails in the span of 3 hours yesterday. I took the advice from the access center about being firm with boundaries and sent her a message back (for today) saying “I will not be able to answer messages this afternoon, and when I answer this evening, I will be able to answer one or maybe two of your messages” because its just getting effing ridiculous.

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Add to that the fact that the classes are doing abysmally. Its deeply frustrating because they aren’t doing any of the weekly problem sets (there are quizzes every week based directly on these problems, in a typical class the average is about a 8/10, the average has been 5/10 this semester). They were then in my office complaining that they did poorly on the test, but the test question were almost *word for word* from either my problem set, or other extra problems that were posted online. And as the semester went on, they still didn’t regularly do the problem sets. I had to give them a wakeup call after the 2nd test that we don’t curve - if 1/2 the class fails, that’s how much of the class fails. Most of them seemed absolutely flabbergasted.

So two things I learned this semester 1) You can give students all the resources, but (obviously) if they don’t use them, they won’t do well. And moreso than any other semester, students are deluded in thinking that they will pass if they don’t do the work. And 2) BOUNDARIES BOUNDARIES BOUNDARIES. I suspect that after I post the final grades, I will be getting a deluge of “can’t I do extra work so that I can pass?”. When I asked the access center what I should respond to these requests (because the students send multiple messages even when I say no) is telling them “no” and then tacking on “and I will not be opening or responding to further messages regarding this topic as the decision is final as outlined in the syllabus at the beginning of the semester.”

But I’m so tired. And there’s still the exam to grade.

Bleurk.

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