I don’t talk about my teaching much, but today, I must. Because I was bribed. And it must be documented.
For those of you who don’t know, I teach undergraduate writing classes at ASU. It sounds like a drag, but it isn't For the most part, I’ve been blessed with the most amazing students during my three years teaching here. I can count the number of “problem” students I've had on one hand. Most of my students are hard workers, decent writers and responsible human beings. I seriously can’t complain, especially since ASU is considered a “party school.” My students are a zillion times better than I thought they would be based on rumors I had heard about ASU.
But today we hit an all-time low… or high… depending on how you feel about the hilarity that is college students trying to bribe their teachers with candy.
Two nights ago I was reading through my students’ drafts for conferences I was holding with them the following morning. I got to one draft to sadly discover it was only one and a half pages long even though I had asked my students to write at least 3-4 pages. I very nicely, but firmly, wrote a comment on the paper about it being incomplete and about how I can’t give good feedback if my students don’t actually write a full draft. Then I gave this student half credit on the draft. Most professors would have given a zero, but I was feeling gracious.
When this student’s group came to meet with me at a table in the library lobby the following morning, the slacker student, before even sitting down at a chair, firmly placed an AIRHEAD in the middle of the table. The student did not say what it was for… but in the back of my mind I was like “Am I being bribed or appeased with candy right now?! This is amazing… but you should have brought me a Blizzard or anything better than candy from your middle school concession stand.”
A few minutes later the student mumbled some kind of apology about not finishing the draft. I said I was disappointed but we would do our best as a group to give feedback on the mere (pathetic?) page and half that had been written so far. Meanwhile, that awkward Airhead was still sitting on the table between us.
When the conferences were over, all three students got up to leave, but the Airhead remained.
It was a bribe to be sure.
I picked it up and looked at it. I considered throwing it away. Then I considered eating it as a pre-lunch snack. I also pondered that maybe this slacker student actually hates me and had poisoned the candy. Then, finally, I returned to the idea of eating it and opened the wrapper.
I don’t think I’ve had an Airhead in 15 years and I wanted to remember what they taste like… poison or not.
I was sorely disappointed and thankful that my middle school days are over. The slacker should have brought chocolate…
And I did NOT change the grade, of course.
But I did eat an extra sixty calories of sugar as my mid-morning snack.