Worth It

I wrote earlier this month about how rough the semester has been. Not sure why that is. Probably a lot of factors contributed.

But yesterday I had one of those rare moments that made me think that some of the stuff that was driving me crazy – especially in the beginning of the semester — actually made for a successful end.

A student in one of my classes was late with his first paper. Then he didn’t turn in the next one. I told him I wouldn’t take it. He gave me a song and dance about this and that and this and that and I just said, “No.” I made a deal with him that if he was not late to any more classes, if he turned in every single assignment left on time (and they had about 12 papers over the course of the semester), I would erase the zero and replace it with one of the best grades he earned.

He was not late with another paper. Actually, that is not quite true. He came in one day with an excuse about why it was not his best effort. I told him to put it in the stack or the deal was off. It went in the stack. He was right – it was not very good. But he learned that a deal is a deal. Every subsequent paper was turned in on time.

And then, he came to my office on the last day of class and said, “Thank you.” He said I helped him learn about how his procrastination was hindering him as a student. We talked a bit about how he should apply those lessons to ALL of his classes and that he should do this out of respect for HIMSELF, not just his professors. He can do the work. He can get it in on time. IF he had someone hold him to it and not let him skate by with excuse after excuse. And he had some doozies! And they may have been true. But that was not the point.

I think – hope – this student learned more than just about art history this semester. I think perhaps he has.

And I think perhaps this rough semester was worth it in the end.

Happy grading to all.

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