Blog Archive

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pathetic Catch Up

Whew. If you thought being a student was a lot of stress and work, just wait until you're a teacher/professor/TA. HOLY COW. Lesson plans, reviewing lectures before heading to class, answering emails from crazed undergrads who are sure they were in class that one day for that one quiz but they got a zero and they want points anyway, grading, grading, GRADING.

My PI is teaching a freshmen level, science and society class about forests. It satisfies the science requirement for non-majors, is a sociology class for science majors, and meets the upcoming UC writing requirement (minimum number of pages of essay writing, chance to resubmit their essays for a better score to make the "learning to write properly" an iterative process...or something like that...). So it is a 100-student class with one professor, a US Forest Service lecturer, a grader, and a TA (me). And that TA gets to teach all three discussion sections every week. Goody, goody. Our grader does most of the grading, but I still do a fair amount since I teach them particular things in discussion. Last year I was the grader and it wasn't very fun. Grading the same essays 100 times in a row will just about kill you. Trust me.

In previous years the final exam was done online. I argued (really) against doing online examinations this year because it is too easy for the students to cheat. And it is such a pain in the butt to hold them accountable when cheat that no one ever seems to call them on it. Judicial affairs requires a lot of hoop-jumping and paperwork filing. Since this is a freshmen level class, I argued that it is the perfect time to show the students that they must be held accountable for their knowledge and education. That SOMEONE is paying for them to be here, learning, and building their character to prepare them for the rest of their life. So they'd have to take a paper final exam and NOT CHEAT.

I also pointed out that I am also a student at UC Davis. And that I will be getting a degree from this fine institution, just like they are. And if they cheat, then it mares ALL diplomas from UCD. Mine and theirs. And that's not okay with me. We are all in this together.

The professor decided to let them have an "open note" exam, however. He explained that in "real life" you'd rarely be expected to spit out detailed information at the drop of a hat, but you'd better know exactly where to find that information if you needed it. So the students get to bring any and all hard copy notes with them to the final--reading materials, hand written notes, PowerPoint presentations, glossaries, etc. But I warned them that if they make too much noise fluttering through their notes during the exam (therefore disturbing their classmates), then I will be forced to take their notes away.

We had our last real lecture and discussion sections last week. I drafted the final exam three weeks ago and emailed it to the prof and lecturer. Of course they only got back to me with edits yesterday. Sigh. So I spent all dang day working on that final exam. Sheesh, I really thought it would only take a few hours.

Because the classroom is quite crowded and we've had instances of cheating on in-class quizzes, I decided to make two versions of the exam and photocopy each version onto a unique color paper. Every other student in a given row will get the tan-colored version and the rest will get the standard white paper version. (I made sure to choose a color paper that wasn't too bright and hurt their eyes. I'm nice like that.) That way we'll all know that there ARE two versions so it isn't worth trying to copy the person next to you. Hopefully it works.

I bought the tan paper tonight and sat in the copy room of my building on campus for about an hour while the machine copied/collated the 9 page exams. Since I didn't know how to make the machine staple the exams, I had to do that part by hand.

Eddie was at home with Dave, spiking a fever of 101.something and being pretty fussy. The sweet boy is teething like crazy (molars) and has a cough that he got from daycare. Dave called me to say that Eddie has a temperature of 101.4 in his right armpit and 102.1 in his left. Hahaha. Taking the temperature on both sides is pretty funny.

We're supposed to go to Berkelely tomorrow morning for John and Christina's wedding--I booked us a room at a fancy hotel so we could enjoy our romantic night away in style. We made a long list of all the places we wanted to eat in that part of the bay, just like we used to as undergrads.

My parents were supposed to come watch Eddie for us, but I canceled that when I realized a) that my mom never asked my dad if he was willing to watch Eddie this weekend, but rather "informed" him instead and it was clear he didn't really want to, b) that my mom was planning all along to ditch my dad with Eddie for the day on Saturday so she could go visit with some friends, and c) that Eddie developed a cough and my dad apparently gets sick every time he sees Eddie, even if Eddie is not actually ill at the time. SIGH. So I had to call all my regular sitters to see if someone could watch him. Of course, it is finals time so none of them were available. We decided to take Eddie with us to the hotel, meaning that Dave would have to leave the reception earlish to put Eddie to bed. But then Cassie stepped in to say that she'd be happy to keep him for us if we'd agree to keep Leila sometime. Done! But now he's sick so we're not sure if both of us can even go Berkeley. Cassie said she'd keep him anyway if he's feeling better tomorrow (he caught the cold from Leila in the first place!). Fingers crossed that that's the case. Otherwise we'll have to take him with us and not let him cough on anyone or I'll have to go to the wedding and sleep in the hotel alone. (Just what I want to spend my money on: a hotel room for myself. I spend all dang week away from Dave and then I can't even stay in the romantic hotel room with him.)

But the good news is that Edward and Jennifer are en route to California! Woooooooooooooooo! Most of you know how happy that makes me (and Dave) so I'll spare you all the extra exclamation points that I really want to include to emphasize my point. =)


Kaitlin said...

you work too hard.

steph.kelley said...

It was sooo great to see you and Dave at the wedding — I'm glad that Eddie could end up staying with Cassie! We all owe her thanks, since we got to hang out with you! :) Good luck with the end of the term. You are a very diligent TA, my heavens. xoxoxo

Kelly said...

Man, not many TA's have to write the final exam!! That is a ton of work!! I just have to grade a final this week, and that alone is a ton of work. Good luck Julie! At least it's all almost over :D

I hope you had tons of fun at the wedding and I can't wait to see what dress you ended up wearing (I read the comment from steph.kelley, that's great that it all worked out with Eddie).