Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Testing my problem-solving skills

A student came in my office and told me he needed to drop my physics class, and just for a moment I flashed on that common professorial nightmare--Wait, I'm supposed to be teaching physics?!! 

No, I'm not supposed to be teaching physics. The student was just a little confused. It's that kind of week: a steady stream of students coming in and out of my office or coming up to me after class with problems. I can handle the I need to drop your physics class problem pretty easily by directing the student to another office in another building on a completely different side of campus (Have fun walking over there in the sweltering heat!), but others present a bigger challenge. 

One wanted to drop a class and add a different one before the deadline, but it took us 20 minutes to find a class that's not closed and doesn't conflict with his current schedule. One wanted to borrow my book so he can photocopy tomorrow's reading while he waits for his book to arrive (Okay, but bring it back in 20 minutes or I'll set loose the dragon). And one wanted me to explain everything there is to know about the new MLA citation format in under 20 minutes (Just do your best and we'll work out the details over time).

By the way, here's a great way to induce pandemonium in a class full of Honors students or English majors or other perfectionists: tell them that MLA citation format has changed but some of their professors aren't aware of the changes, so that no matter which format they use, someone will think they're dead wrong. 

Yes, I am a cruel person, but there's one major cruelty I will not commit: I will not try to teach my students physics. (Except in my nightmares.)

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