The Professor verses The Student

Most students remember one or two professors/teachers that impact their lives. The impact on a student can come in one to many ways. Teachers can impact your life as a role model, an inspiration, or as a mentor.

The relationship between the professor and the student is a two-way street.  Do we make mistakes?  Of course.  Intentional?  Probably not.  As a professor, I am here to help the student…yes, you!  I’m not here to hinder your college experience.  Let me tell you what happened to me recently.  But first, I’m going to tell you a story.

Pulling a Joey

I must tell you an interesting story about my nephew Joey. Joey was computer savvy at a very young age. He could manipulate computers better than a computer technician. In fact, in high school he was recruited by the audio-visual teacher to run the AV equipment, plus he was asked to help with the on-campus computer systems.

Here was his issue. Joey did not complete an English paper assignment due on a Friday. He needed more time. For the teacher not to deduct points for a late assignment, Joey created and sent a “garbled” file to the teacher. By the time the teacher opened the file to grade the assignment, it gave Joey an extra couple of days to finish the assignment. When the teacher contacted Joey to state that the file was corrupted, he immediately apologized and stated he will resend the file. The teacher was never the wiser. Our family termed this type of tomfoolery “pulling a Joey.”

Ms. Crafty

So, I was quite surprised by a graduate student (let’s call her Ms. Crafty) who recently “pulled a Joey.” Let me tell you what Ms. Crafty did. She started the course off slowly. Apparently, a car accident delayed her start in the course. Her assignments were quite late. By the end of the semester, she had to makeup several missing assignments. Because the due date was less than a week away, Ms. Crafty decided to escalate the issue to the head of her department instead of discussing the lateness of her assignments with me, the professor. She had an issue with the professor. Me!

After she consulted with the head of the master’s program, Ms. Crafty received more than a week to complete and submit late assignments. At the same time meeting with the head of the master’s program, she escalated the issue to the chair of my department, and any other person with whom she could talk to about how unfair the professor was in accepting her late assignments!

The issue is resolved. Ms. Crafty handed in her assignments, the assignments were graded, and she received a final grade. After all was done, I sent an email to the student stating that this escalation was unnecessary. What Ms. Crafty should have done, was contact the professor and have an adult conversation about her work, dilemma, and options to end the course. I continued to state that as Ms. Crafty’s professor, I was here to help her, not hinder her through the master’s program. Her reply to my email was expected. She stated all was “malarkey.”

Interestingly, many of her submitted assignments were poorly completed. Several assignments conveyed a lack of understanding of the material. So, instead of calling me, or coming to see me to understand the material and learn the concepts, she opted to take a poor grade and “blame the professor” for her inability to comprehend the material.

Appreciate the Learning Process

Throughout the ten years of teaching, I’ve had three students “pull a Joey.” The students’ effort to “pull a Joey” rather than learn the material always takes me by surprise. I am not a perfect professor, but I try to be an approachable and considerate professor. My intent is for students to appreciate the learning process and make the college experience enjoyable. Teaching students the material when they get stuck on challenging assignments is my job! Too bad Ms. Crafty would rather “complain” than make the effort to learn the material.

When students, such as Ms. Crafty, find a loophole in the system, teachers modify the curriculum and syllabus to plug those unforeseen holes. Students, thank your predecessors for being so cunning. Regardless, remember one fact from this pathetic story: professors are here to help your education process, not hinder your education process. Grasp this concept because if you don’t take advantage of what they have to offer now, you WILL miss them later.

For more information about seeking employment and networking, refer to the book Check It Off! Pave Your Way Through College to Career by Vera Teller, Ph.D.

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