Wednesday, January 6, 2010

T for Time Flies (and sometimes it doesn't)

I seem to finally have broken the hold this nasty, angry cold had on me. Thankfully it seems to have just pissed off my sinuses a bit instead of fully settling there; thus, no infection, which is a very very very very good thing. Thanks so much for all of your well wishes, dear readers, and I promise that I won’t write pity party posts (yay for alliteration!) like the last one too often.

Today was my first day back to work in 2010, and I know I’ve been trapped at home too long when I’m actually happy to return to work. In my defense (just so you know I’m not crazy even though that previous sentence is crazy talk), I have basically been stuck in the house since New Year’s Eve. I’ve been sick for over a week and a half. To say I was getting cabin fever would be an understatement. I’m glad to return to the land of the living and to a “normal” schedule. The dogs needed it too—they were starting to drive me absolutely insane and were becoming a little too clingy. Hopefully our newer dog, the bug (formerly the monster…I like bug better, because it describes him better), handles the transition back to daily kenneling okay. I worry about him, because he has separation anxiety and is still learning how life in a house with a family works.

My return to work was, not surprisingly, uneventful. By lunchtime I was all caught up with everything I’d missed out on over the past two days. This is sad and illustrates how incredibly boring my job is due to lack of work; well, and how stellar I am at getting my work done quickly and correctly. I am damn efficient! And it really pisses me off when my boss acts all put out when I’ve missed a day or two of work, because he knows how little I have to do, I have the paid time off to take, and I have filed the appropriate FMLA paperwork for my medical conditions (migraines and sinusitis). I complain to him about it all the time, and yet, he does nothing to fix it.

It serves to remind me, once again, why I’ve chosen to return to school and change careers. Granted it is only part of the reason, the other part being that I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. And, though it sometimes seems to be slow-going, there is an end in sight. For now, I just maintain the status quo and remember to appreciate that: (1) I have a job; (2) that job pays decent money; (3) the downtime on the job isn’t always so bad, sometimes affording me the opportunity to write blogs and catch up on homework; and (4) my boss is flexible about my school schedule, which I most definitely appreciate (even if all that involves is him being okay with me coming in early and leaving early on whatever day of the week a class happens to fall on).

It’s hard to believe that school starts up again a week from today. Four weeks sounded like such a long time at the beginning of this break, but it has somehow flown right by. Of course, the holidays mucked it up quite a bit, what with family obligations and all that jazz, and then there was that whole being sick for a week and a half thing. Still, I can’t believe that class starts exactly one week from today. Time flies!!

I received an email from my Psychology professor over the weekend. She sent the course syllabus out in advance, which is nice. I haven’t had a class yet where I’ve gotten to preview the syllabus in advance, so this is great; however, the email, and some of the language in the syllabus, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

For instance, this course will be held in an off-campus “satellite location,” which happens to be the office building of a local business. Apparently this business requires students to show a photo id at the security desk to check in; however, this does not give one free reign of the building, which the instructor is explicit about in her email:

“You may only move about the building with an authorized escort. For our class, that escort is me. I will arrive to the location at 5. Any students in the lobby at 5 may go up to the classroom with me. I use that hour before class to get my notes, videos, etc, in order. At 6pm, I go back down to the lobby to escort students up to the classroom.”

While I respect the need for businesses to have security, and I understand that concept (I work at a place where we have id badges that we must use to enter the building.), this arrangement kinda sucks. I have visions of the teacher lining us up to go to the bathroom, and just like in elementary school, we will all have to go even if we don't need to use the "facilities," and we will be expected to wait patiently for our classmates to finish. Also, I like to get to class early, but for me that usually means around 5:15 or 5:30. This means that I will have to either (1) avoid dinner (either stopping someplace or eating a packed meal) and go straight from work to class in order to be there by 5, or (2) hang out in the lobby for half an hour to forty five minutes depending on my arrival time. Both situations are less than ideal; however, it is what it is, so I have between now and next week to figure out what I want to do.

Because this is an accelerated class, attendance is a key issue in one’s success, which makes sense when you consider that we are cramming a semester’s worth of material into 10 weeks (which in actuality is 10 days, because class meets once a week). Most instructors grade on attendance in accelerated courses and are explicit in the amount of days one can miss before being too far behind in class to be successful. Accelerated classes are usually 8 weeks, and instructors usually allow students to miss no more than two days. This instructor, however, isn’t as lenient. From the syllabus (the bolding is hers and the brackets are my editorial comments):

“By registering for this course, instead of a full-semester course, you are obligating yourself to meet the criteria necessary to earn 4 credits in 10 weeks. Attending all classes is one of those criteria… If you cannot attend this class every week, or you cannot be in class on time, or remain for the duration of the class, you will NOT be successful in this class. If you miss a small number of consecutive classes YOU WILL BE DROPPED from this course. In this ASAP [accelerated] class, that is one class!”

She is also very explicit on her strict attendance policy. From her email:

“If you are late for class, the security guard will call the classroom when you arrive. I will have to disrupt the class to come down to retrieve you. Thus, you have to ride up in the elevator with your instructor who is never late, and doesn’t appreciate late arrivals. I urge you to arrive well before the 6pm start time. Attendance is taken at 6, and lateness or absences noted. Neither lateness or absence is tolerated in any of my ASAP classes. You will enjoy this class if you can keep up with the timing and expectations.”

Trust me when I say that I am not opposed to this instructor’s attendance policy or viewpoints on lateness. In fact, I applaud it. I have been in other classes in which students seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to waltz into class up to an hour late as though it’s no big deal. As a student, I find it distracting and frustrating, so I can only imagine how instructors must feel. I just think it’s sad that she has to be so explicit about writing all of it out in such detail and so severe in her wording.

Accelerated classes are mostly for adult students, so it’s unbelievable to me that adults have to be treated like children, because otherwise they do not behave appropriately. It makes you wonder how these people expect to succeed not only in school but in life as well. Thankfully I do not anticipate having any problems with this policy, so it’s a non issue for me. However, I hate being talked down to and/or treated condescendingly, so I do hope this is not an example of how the instructor will speak or act in class.

Because of the inability of some adults to act like adults, I loathe any kind of group work. If you read about halfway down this post and this post, you’ll see an actual example of how group/partner projects don’t work and how frustrating it can be. So, when I saw this (again the bolding is the instructor’s): “You will prepare for group work and help your classmates learn.” in the syllabus, I immediately began to hate this class even though it hasn’t started yet.

I’m sorry, but it is not my job to help my classmates learn; this is what the instructors get paid the big bucks (or the little bucks…it doesn’t much matter to me, because the point is the same: they get paid) to do. I pay to learn, and I expect that education to come from a knowledgeable instructor. I see little value in group work as a form of learning, because the only things it’s taught me is that you can only depend on yourself and others are all too eager to take credit for your work. This is a lesson I’m all too familiar with thanks to my current job in the “real world.” Of course, I’m a perfectionist and a control freak, so I automatically take on group assignments as though they are my own. I know that’s my own fault, but I refuse to let my grade hang on the possible insolence and laziness of others. As a result, I just do the work; it seems the easiest way to assure the outcome that I want.

I found some of these “Important Details” from the syllabus to be questionable as well (again bolding is hers, brackets are my editorial comments):

ALL Homework must be typed, double-spaced, pages stapled, and in 12 point font. [Every single course syllabus mentions this, so it should be a given. Apparently it is not.]

I do NOT want homework that is handwritten, unstapled, or stinks of cigarette smoke. [Really?!?! She’s had that much of a problem with stinky homework that she has to include it in the syllabus?!? I just lost a little faith in humanity.]

Plan ahead. Don’t try to finish homework, or do the reading on the due date. Don’t wait to print the homework- PRINTERS KNOW WHEN YOU ARE IN A HURRY!! They will always choose the worst moment to run out of ink, or stop working. [There are no words for this. I understand that she’s trying to be funny, but did this seriously need to be included in the syllabus?! So in addition to being an expert in Psychology, this instructor is apparently “in the know” about how printers secretly plot against humans. This is good to know. Now I really must try to get to class early someday in order to pick her brain on what other devious plans printers are cooking up. Oh, and grown ass adults should be able to plan homework accordingly; if not, I just lost a little more faith in humanity.]

I am a stickler for being on time!! I do not start late!! If we have extra time we leave early. [It’s already been covered repeatedly, but apparently there can never be overkill where attendance is concerned!]

Attendance points are given only to students who arrive on time, and stay for the duration of the class period. [Again with the whole “don’t be late and don’t miss class” thing. Really?!?! REALLY?!?! Let me make sure I have this straight…I shouldn’t be late to class, and I really shouldn’t miss any classes. Do I have that right? Perhaps I’ll raise my hand in class that first day just to double-check. You think I’m kidding, but trust me; someone will do it, which illustrates why the instructor felt the need to write this all out, furthering my loss of faith in humanity.]

Oh, and the clincher (names changed to protect the crazy): Call me “Jan” or Professor John. Do not address me as Miss, Ms., or Mrs. anything. Do not call me by just my last name (John), and do not assume my last name is the more common name “Johnson.” I will learn your names (40 names per class). I expect you to learn mine. Okay, I can understand her frustration here.  Really, I can. My maiden name was all kinds of crazy--a long, Norweigen name spelled anything but the way it sounded--so I get how frustrating it is to constantly have to correct people on what your name really is. But is it really necessary to be so snarky about it?!? I agree that it's disrespectful for someone to not learn your name; especially if they've said it incorrectly, have been corrected, and continue to say it incorrectly. But is this really such a common issue that all students need to be chastised well in advance?!

I can already tell that this is going to be a long ten weeks. I am soooooo not looking forward to it. The nice thing about the class only being 10 weeks is that it makes even the worst class more bearable, because I can count down. “Only ‘x’ classes left,” becomes my mantra, which helps to keep me focused, but more importantly: SANE. It will be interesting to see how many students drop the class after reading the email and syllabus, and after hearing the same stuff repeated in our first class next week; it is a given that the syllabus will basically be read to us.

This is what I get for going to community college! I have to keep my eye on the prize: each class is one step closer to completing my associate degree and moving on to the social work curriculum for my bachelor’s degree. Also, this class should at least be interesting. At least in comparison to Geology, which I have to take the second half of the semester and am just dreading, because I don’t like the idea of dying a slow death from boredom (and then again, it’s something my “real world” job has gotten me used to).

If you managed to read all the way through this post without jabbing a sharp object in your eye, throwing your computer and/or monitor off of a large cliff, or cursing me or the internet, you deserve a prize too. Treat yourself to something nice! ;-)


  1. I for I like your blog!!! It is nice to take a peek at someone else's life... Thanks for sharing it with the world! ;) ... I will start following you... I am still here and I didn't throw my computer or monitor anywhere!


  2. Thanks, Paloma! I'm glad you stopped by and that this giant post didn't scare you away! I follow your blog as well.


Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for taking the time to comment! Readers like you make me want to continue writing. I will do my best to reply to your comment by either commenting on your blog or by sending you an email. In order for me to send you an email, which I really really like to do, because it's a more personal response, you need to put your email address somewhere on your blog or in your blogger profile. Also, can you please make sure to leave me a link so that I can come and visit your lovely blog? Thanks a bunch!

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