The Baby

This is to announce the birth of our family's second child, our second daughter, Madison. She was 7 lbs, 12 oz (if baby stats are your thing). She and her mom are tired but healthy. Big sister thought that the baby looked funny (ha-ha funny, not weird funny) and liked her hair best of all. Dad is slowly floating back to Earth, pondering things like more My Little Pony toys, weddings, and the cost of tuition in the year 2026.

How is this a behind-the-scenes kinda post? Here's how: I don't get paternity leave. Sure, I could go to my Department and tell them I won't be teaching come January--but that would violate the terms of my contract. And even if they did let me go, they probably would have found a replacement for me, so it'd be unlikely that I'd be rehired. And even if I got rehired, I'd lose all of my seniority (meaning my salary would drop down to lowest rung of the pay scale).

That means I'm stuck between the demands of work and home, struggling to juggle both so that no disaster happens. Like running out of diapers, or forgetting about an exam. So if I seem tired, cranky, and always in a hurry, you know why.

Why aren't I sleeping?

The Begging

Usually, I like to get email from students. It's great to have the chance to help explain a concept or idea that someone's having trouble with (or to correct an error I might have made--oops!). Sometimes, I get links to interesting websites that relate to a course. I even get some from students after they've finished I course I taught. So they're still thinking of me. >snff<


I really loved your course, u r a great instructor. I just wanted to wish you a nice holiday.

BTW, I was just wondering about how you round up the marks. I have a total of 54.2%. Would it be possible to get that rounded up to an A+? I really want to get into medical school--it's been my dream since I was a fetus, and the only thing standing in my way is my mark in your course, which is an F- right now.


Now, it seems like the person just wants to know about how marks get rounded up. (I apply standard rounding, also known as the common method.) But, er, it's not just asking about that, is it? It's begging.

There are two main problems I have with this. First, no. No, nyet, nein. I'm not going to change your mark because you asked. That's not how it works. It's embarassing for you to ask. So I'm not going to respond. If you've got a legitimate concern about the calculation of your grade, that's one thing.

Second, by the time the final is over, it's too late. There are so many things I could do to help you during the term. Did you come to my office hour to get help with things you didn't understand? Did you look over your midterms? Did you spend time checking out my study resources? Did you at least send me questions by email? No? Why not? It sure looks to me like you're either doing so well that you don't need any help, or you're not particularly engaged in the course.

After the final is over, there's nothing more I can do. If you fail the course, you can apply to rewrite the final, which you know if you've read the Calendar. But no, I can't simply bump you up a grade.

OK, so I don't want to be mean. I realize that in this age of instant gratification, after seeing your final exam mark, many students just want to know their grade in the course. It does take quite a while to get from me, through all the bureaucracy, and into your transcripts online. But you should be able to calculate your grade yourself: Just get your overall weighted total, and look up in the syllabus what grade that corresponds to. No curve--what grade you get simply depends on your overall percentage. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to send marks/grade information over email. So you're going to have to be patient.

Why aren't you studying?

The Term Papers

I'm up to my eyeballs in term papers. Marking them is an intensive process, and takes a surprisingly lot of time. I try to spend no more than 2 hours with each paper, otherwise things spiral out of control, and I won't have all my marking done by the final exam. (That's my deadline; I must have term papers marked by the time the class has their final exam. It's been close a few times--I've still been marking while they've been writing their exams.)

Let's do the math: if I have 27 term papers to mark and spend 2 hours on each one, that', carry the one...that's 54 hours of marking. And that's crammed into 10 days. I don't have a lot of free time during those 10 days. That's why I'm not in my office, unless I have to be--no sense spending an hour commuting back and forth when I could be (have to be?) marking.

The papers so far this year have been pretty good, so I've been able to keep up a pretty good pace. Awful papers take a lot of time to mark, because I feel compelled to correct Every. Single. Error. This includes spelling, grammar, style, logic, and breadth/depth of coverage of the topic.

Now don't feel too sorry for me. Or, you know, at all. Term papers are great because I usually learn something new. I get to (have to?) read a few dozen papers on topics I might not ordinarily read about. The hardest part is keeping up my motivation do get through just one more paper. It's easy to procrastinate, and feel the sudden compelling urge to alphabetize my DVD collection by the director's middle initial, or finally get around to cleaning the shower,, post a message to my blog.

I know, I know: Why aren't you marking?

Why aren't you studying?

Find It