Deadlines and Online Students

I think it is wrong to use a blog to complain about student behavior. Most anything else about the job of teaching is probably fair game for blog complaints, but not students. You know, if you don’t like your students, you are probably in the wrong profession in the first place, and even so you are the one in the position of power in the relationship. It’s not your place to do the complaining. Thus, that’s not what this post is about.

Students push the boundaries of any rules set. That’s not a complaint; it’s just an observation. Teachers push the boundaries of the rules set for them too. Everyone does. It’s human nature.

I have a friend, though, who has very stern boundaries. On the day that research papers or other major projects are due, she goes to class with a stack of drop slips. Anyone who doesn’t turn in a paper gets a slip. It’s just that simple. She doesn’t take late papers. Not at all.

I both admire and fear that degree of conviction in deadlines. I’m the person who has all of my bills on automatic payment so that I won’t forget to pay them, though. I’m usually willing to listen to a good excuse. I make my students write letters to me explaining why their papers are late. I encourage them to be creative. I love a well-crafted excuse. I also love the passing on the lesson that you never get something for nothing. Pay a bill late, and pay a $30 fine. Turn in a paper late, and write an extra 500 words or so. This is a system that works for me.

With online students, it seems you have to be even more flexible than with day students, though. They are taking classes online because they don’t have normal schedules. Often those abnormal schedules intrude into their ability to complete assignments on time. This is why teachers who love strict policies have a harder time adapting to online instruction than those who don’t mind indulging a good dead grandma story.

And so it is that I have given a little extra and a little extra and a little extra time. Now I have no more time left. My grandmothers all died long ago, and all anyone wants to hear from me is whether I’ve made it possible for them to finalize their paperwork on time. I don’t have any more extra days to give away.

And still I wait for straggling papers as I go just a little bit crazier than I already am.

That’s all.

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