I've been working with a distance education student over the semester break. Let me say first off that I had other plans for my time during the break, and I receive very little financial reward for this. It's mostly a service task. The distance education program was closing at the end of December, and I assumed I was done with the whole program. All my active students were finished. At the end of November, a new student contacted me, desperate to finish the course that s/he had been enrolled in for 6 months but hadn't started. I took time during exam week to meet with this student, to give advice about ways to actually do it in a month, even though no one ever had. The student did not follow my advice. Two weeks went by and there were no assignments. I assumed the student realized the difficulty and quit. I eventually sent a query, and then received a barrage of assignments at once, all within the last 9 days of the year. I graded them as quickly as I could, and I graded them pretty leniently. One assignment submitted was the wrong file, and I sent notification. In January, the student finally found my note and send the correct file. At this point, the class was over and the deadline was past, but I was feeling generous so I decided to grade it, but only after I returned from out of town. I also had to immediately grade the final exam upon my return because of the graduation deadline and because the student took the exam later than we initially agreed. Today I went into the office to grade the exam and the re-submitted file. When I opened the file, I saw it was yet again the wrong one, so I simply assigned a grade of 0, calculated the grade, and then immediately contacted distance education with the final grade so it could be quickly processed. I even drove downtown to drop off the exam personally at their offices.
And when I got home, I have no less than 4 emails from this student sending the correct file and begging me to grade it. (I'm not going to.)
This is the thanks I get for being nice. This encounter demonstrates Moriarty's maxim in "The Blind Banker," the second episode of Sherlock: "Gratitude is meaningless. It is only the expectation of further favours."
I've seen this pattern play out with other students, too, and I've seen a similar phenomenon in the hospitality industry. I worked in a semi-ratty hotel for a while. When there was a festival and we charged over $100 for a night, no one complained about the rooms. When we had $30 specials, we had lots of complaints about the tears in the carpet and stains on the bedspreads.
Going in to the new semester, I'm inclined not to give an inch.
|Sometimes I wish I could be as cold as Simon Cowell (pic source).|