Recently, I went on a “tweet storm” about students and some typical “end of semester” behaviors I’ve seen over the years. A colleague read them, and suggested it would make for a good blog post.
I’ve been sitting on this since then, for a few reasons. First, I’ve been pressed for time with other matters, and I didn’t want to simply dump the entire “tweet storm” here with no explanation. Second, I’ve been considering how to frame this thing in the proper context.
Now that the semester is over, I finally have some time! #yay
For those who know me, I’m always thinking about the “bigger picture”. Things never happen in a vacuum. There is always a cause and effect, there is always a deeper reason(s) why things happen the way they do.
I’m a teacher. I teach. It took me a hell of a long time to finally figure what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I think I may have finally figured at least that much out. At a basic level, I teach topics to help prepare students for a career in infosec. But at a deeper level, I also try to help kids find their way as they move into adulthood and their professional careers.
Sometimes, kids don’t need much help at all. Sometimes, they need a tremendous amount of help. Everyone is different.
Sometimes kids don’t realize they need that help, sometimes they do.
I try my best to figure out how to get you that help.
Sometimes I hit the mark, sometimes I miss the mark badly. I’m human, and God knows I make more than my fair share of mistakes when trying to hit the mark. But I always try to do what I think is best for you.
In that context, that’s what my “tweet storm” was about – trying to help kids move beyond the x’s and o’s of mere coursework, and think more deeply about what they’re doing as they work on their college degrees.
These tweets weren’t meant as a criticism or attack, rather they were intended to try and give kids a different perspective to consider as they move towards graduation and a life beyond college.
So, to “my kids”, I say this: People matter. Relationships matter. You matter.
You may think that these tweets are nonsense, pointless, or just the ramblings of some idiot academic whose courses you have to suffer through, in order to get that piece of paper you’ve been told is important.
I’ve probably been your toughest critic, but I’m also your biggest supporter. I want you to succeed. I want you to prosper. I want you to grow into something more than you already are. I see it in each of you, even if you don’t.
These tweets aren’t simply about courses and final grades. They’re about how you go about doing the important things in life. They’re about how you go about relating to the people around you. They’re about how you grow into something more.
So, with that in mind, my hope is that you’ll read these tweets captured below, and take them to heart.
- if you’re thinking about emailing your instructor to “discuss” a grade on a single assignment, ask yourself why you’re actually doing so.
- if your course grade is on the border of pass/fail, ask yourself why this is? arguing with your professor about a single grade, at the end of the semester, is pointless.
- that last, or close to last, assignment in the class isn’t magical in nature. it weighs the same as the other assignments you submitted. or maybe you didn’t submit? and that is the issue – how many points did you leave on the table earlier in the semester?
- now it’s the end of the semester, you suddenly realize that you’re on the edge. now you want to “push back” or “seek to understand” the grade, which is intellectually dishonest. you want to argue for points, in the hope that you’ll somehow manage to pass the course.
- if you’re being totally honest with yourself, you know that you didn’t turn in assignments earlier in the semester, or you submitted substandard work. you probably did so, thinking “it’s early in the semester, i’ve got time to make those up”.
- the problem is, you cannot make up for lost points. they are gone, never to return. but, you get to the end of the semester, see your course grade sitting in an uncomfortable position, and you start to grasp at straws. this is self-inflicted damage and pain.
- so, you email and plead your case. you tell your instructor this or that, hoping that you’ll some how be able to squeeze points out. however, you know that deep down, you didn’t earn them and don’t deserve them.
- so, what do i want for students to think about and truly understand? simple – do your work to an acceptable standard, and submit it when it’s due. as a student, you have all the power in the world to control your own destiny here.
- take control of your education. take control of your coursework. take control of your work. take control of your future. it’s all yours to take. what are you waiting for?