Thursday, March 04, 2010

Lost Opportunities

I didn't get my act together to make BINGO cards to distribute this week (the week before spring break) about all the pitfalls of giving an exam the week before spring break.

Some things I can anticipate. The dead grandparents deserve a spot on the card. The illnesses (both real and invented) deserve a spot, too. I knew that illness was going to be an issue at yesterday's exam, so I brought a box of kleenex with me to the exam. It's always a bit of a worry about the message that you send when you bring a box of kleenex to the exam. I don't want to give off the impression "this exam is so hard that I'm going to make you all cry." Instead I'm going for "when you spend the entire exam sniffling, it annoys everyone." Most of them chose to sniffle, despite my offers of kleenex.

There were the usual mystery no-shows who didn't even try to make an excuse. We'll see if they re-emerge after spring break. Or maybe they've given up on the class.

Five minutes before the exam started a student ran into the room in tears and started to tell me some sort of disjointed story about having to leave the country, an apartment break-in, and assorted other things ending with already having a failing average in the class not having a calculator. I told the student to go and take care of all the chaos and come back whenever it was sorted out. I figure that a failing student is just as likely to fail the exam after spring break as before. My beneficent ruling resulted in this student declaring me to be the best professor on campus. I offered the student a kleenex, too.

So it is now too late for the "exam before spring break" BINGO card. Perhaps I should start working now on the excuses that will keep students from being able to take their final exams at their scheduled times. Maybe I can distribute cards to people and offer the winners teaching items that I will no longer need when I clean out my office. Think of it as an opportunity to redeem a few dead grandparents, a mission trip, a case of mono, and "family emergency" to win a wooden dodecahedron or a bag of two-color counters or a box of calculators.