Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Calgon, Take Me Away

by Julie Coulter Bellon

We have a piano in our house that has a shiny finish on it, which is not remarkable until you put our kitten in front of it. Then she tries to paw at it, (she's de-clawed) clearly seeing another kitten in the reflection that she'd like to play with, in another room that looks suspiciously like our living room, but well, different. It's quite funny to watch actually, because she really gets into it. It makes me think of Alice in Wonderland and finding the secret "room" and the rabbit who is looking at his watch while running and chanting, "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date. No time to lose, hello, goodbye, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late," right before he jumps into the rabbit hole that leads into Wonderland. That's how I've been feeling lately—a day late and a dollar short for everything, and really wanting to take off to Wonderland. You see, the last two weeks before school lets out are insane. There are programs and field days to attend, concert and award ceremonies, and there's always that one teacher who wants a big project due whether there's two days of school left or not. You know, the one you want to call up and say, "Are you KIDDING me? You want my kid to do what by when? Seriously?"

However, since I'm also a teacher myself over at BYU, I've been getting my fair share of incredulous looks lately. Here's the thing---some students who have procrastinated away their time have suddenly realized that if they don't turn their papers in and have them graded, they won't get a grade for the class and therefore will not be able to graduate. Then comes the fun part. PLEASE, Mrs. Bellon, could you grade my paper by noon today? I absolutely HAVE to have it by then. I couldn't do the work earlier because of my schedule, but I slapped it all together for you, and I just need you to grade my portfolios right away. Is that a problem?

Their pleading eyes, their sob stories, I can't help it, some of them get to me and I cave and grade it as quickly as possible. Others don't move me, however. Like the one who said her favorite show was on TV at the same time she was supposed to do her homework, and she absolutely HAD to find out what happened and thus, didn't get her work done. Sometimes I wish I was the Cheshire Cat (without the smoke) sitting there passing out philosophical advice about not procrastinating and putting pressure on others, or the wisdom of priorities, stuff like that. Or maybe I could just be the Queen of Hearts and shout, "Off with your head!" Wouldn't that be awesome? BYU would probably frown on that though, and there's probably some policy against threatening students with beheading. Or maybe those who don't get to graduate could all come to an "un-graduation party" like the Mad Hatter and the un-birthday party. Now that's something I could get into. The student with the best excuse for not getting their work in on time could blow out the candles on the cake. Maybe I'll turn into the Mad Hatter, complete with googly eyes, just quietly losing my sanity with this sort of thing.

Sigh. I didn't even finish my blog before I got an e-mail from a student asking me to grade her portfolio at my earliest convenience as she is working against a graduation deadline. What do you think? Should I cave in and grade it since she was so nice and polite in her e-mail? Decisions, decisions. Where's that rabbit when you need him? Where's my Calgon?


At 5/18/2006 4:42 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

You know what I find funny? I work at BYU in a Dean's Office, and when I give the faculty deadlines for things, about 25% are always late. They always give some excuse and ask me to please accept it. As a student there is a revengefulness for all of those times they wouldn't accept my late work, but in the end I always give in and take it even though it makes more work for myself. You should grade it. Graduation is more important than one assignment. Well, that's my opinion anyway.

At 5/18/2006 7:14 PM, Anonymous One of your fans said...

Yeah, cut the kids some slack. And as for that girl who had to watch her favorite TV show... did you ask her which one it was? I mean, if it was something important like "24" ... that outranks homework anyday - right? LOL

At 5/20/2006 7:58 PM, Blogger Mean Aunt said...

If you grade it I hope you dock points. For every student that is crying special treatment how many did their work (and sacrificed whatever it took to make sure they qualified for graduation) and didn't come and whine about it?

They don't call me The Mean Aunt for nothing. . .:)

At 5/22/2006 6:30 PM, Blogger KB said...

Send your students back to YW for a refresher course on Choice and Accountability. Choosing to do one thing always means choosing not to do something else. You make your choices and you take the consequences. And it's not like they didn't know graduation was coming. It's been on their calendar now for how many years??

Having said all that, I must confess that when I taught college, I always caved and graded the papers.

BTW, just read something about an English teacher who gave a creative writing assignment for her students to write late homework excuses. Apparently the entire class got that one in on time. Interesting...


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