Home / 2006 / December

New Years Resolutions

Looking back over the past year with the future year in mind kinda like balancing in the middle of a see-saw. What have I learned that I should apply to the coming year? What have I forgotten as the year transpired that I need to remember?

Here are my resolutions. Hold me to ’em!

  1. Daily (They say “28 days makes a habit.” We’ll see!):
    1. Establish and maintain a regular workout routine
    2. More God time
    3. Daily Mary-Kay-style affirmations
  2. Long-term:
    1. Get better at phone communication!
    2. Graduate. Then, apply and be accepted to a PhD program
    3. Be more patient and friendly towards Rob (“We’re meanest to the ones we love the most” <- I don't want this to be true in my life)
    4. Be content with what I have (i.e. be financially responsible)
    5. Want for everyone what I want for myself

Worse than the Day after Thanksgiving?

Well, I did it. I braved the madness and bought some wrapping paper. I always hit the stores the day after Christmas to buy holiday items, like wrapping paper, ribbon, and boxes. I haven’t paid full price for Christmas wrapping paper in about 3 years! I caught myself shaking my head, mocking those people with carts full of wrapping paper, bows, lights, and snowman soap dispensers. “How silly!” I thought.

And then, as I knocked over a display of “Convenience Wrapping Package: 4 rolls of paper, 8 bows, and 8 gift tags” with the 3 rolls of “Extra Large” wrapping paper I was carrying, which made me unable to catch the first “Convenience Wrapping Package,” causing the others on the shelf to topple, domino style, I realized that I was just as bad. *sigh* At least I’m getting a great deal!

The Resolution

Hm, just realized I didn’t finish the story!

Last time on English 110 Plagiarism Saga: Student requested meeting on Tuesday.

I offered any time between 12 and 3. He said he’d be there. *sigh* So I asked when exactly he would be there. No response. In the mean time, the wonderful department head’s secretary was scrambling to find a time when he could mediate. Didn’t matter, because the student didn’t tell me when he could be there.

Finally, the secretary calls me and sets up an appointment for Wednesday morning at 10. She says she’ll call the student and tell him. Later, I get an email asking me to meet him during my office hours, which he knows I have “today at 5.” Well, that would be true. If the semester were still in session! *another sigh*

Skip to Wednesday morning. I arrive about 15 minutes early to the meeting with Dr. Blackmon which gives me enough time to show Dr. Blackmon the student’s paper and the one it was copied from. Student arrives on time, surprisingly.

When we get in Dr. Blackmon’s office, the student starts off by apologizing, then Dr. Blackmon puts the ball in my court, so I tell the student that he lied to me by telling me that he wrote that paper, and that it is every teacher’s job to give her students opportunities to learn, and that he cheated himself out of an opportunity (I know, I know! It’s that idealistic argument again, but it’s true!). The student keeps apologizing. Dr. Blackmon says that I said it pretty accurately, and asks if there are any more questions. Nope. I was stunned! The meeting lasted barely 3 minutes!

But, out in the ante-room (I’m not an old geezer! I just know that word… I’m an English major folks, forgive me. And No, I will not stop using that excuse! :) ), the student needed to say one more time that he was sorry, and that he was have some personal troubles. I explained to him the appeal process that can remove the XF (failure in the course due to academic dishonesty) after 12 calendar months.

He told me Merry Christmas as he was leaving, and I said it back and immediately felt silly. He’s Muslim–they don’t celebrate Christmas!

So that’s it. The saga ends. And none too soon, either, with just 4 days left until Christmas Eve! I totally spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with another TA, looking at a textbook for next semester (I’m teaching Writing II: Academic Writing for the first time–eek!), and chatting with friends and family. Didn’t address any Christmas cards, didn’t wrap any more presents… Meh, I still have a few days, right? Besides, the end of this plagiarism case marked the end of the semester officially!

Oh, did I mention that I got all As this semester?!?! Totally SWEET!!!


Update Last time on “Plagiarism”: Waited for student for 45 minutes. No show. Sent email. Left for Christmas shopping.

So he emails me wanting to set up an appointment for 4. It is currently 2:37. And I am wading through the mall. Sorry.

I email him at 5 when I get back. Good, we’ll meet tomorrow and he’ll “explain everything.” *long, deep groan, very Napoleon Dynamite-esque* I don’t want to hear it. I want to hear “I’m sorry, Mrs. Mueller, what I did was terribly wrong, and I realize that.” Nope, I’m gonna get some lame-ass sob story.

Perhaps he should have cared a little more and attended more than *grabs calculator* 54% of the class. Perhaps he should have cared more and wrote the paper himself! PERHAPS HE SHOULD HAVE CARED A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THREE HOURS BEFORE AND COME TO THE MEETING!

*deep breath*


I waited for my plagiarizing student for about 45 minutes, and he never showed up. At least Dr. Biava and I had a nice chat. I actually prefer that it went down like this, because I hate face-to-face confrontation. I did get some insight from the only true Marxist I know: confrontation should not be daunting if you are in power (check!) and if you are right (double check!!). This wisdom made me feel better about what was supposed to happen, but I’m still glad the initial confrontation gets to happen through email.

Plagiarism just gives me the itchy twitchy heebie-jeebies. I am at the same time disappointed in my student, pitying that he [ was so lazy | lacked enough self-confidence ] to resort to cheating, disgusted at the dishonesty, and insulted to think that I come across as enough of fool that he thinks he can pull one over on me. I oscillate between feeling inept (what did I fail to teach him that he felt he had to resort to plagiarism) and feeling indignant.

Ahh, now it’s hitting me: the relief of another completed semester! Hopefully at midnight tonight I can see how well I did… I think it might be possible that I have a 4.0 this semester (hasn’t happened since my first semester of undergrad :( )!!! If so, partying shall ensue promptly thereafter! :D It basically depends on the following things:

  • Sociolinguistics: it’s pretty much guaranteed
  • Historical Linguistics: How terribly did I bomb the final? Did I do well enough on the term paper?
  • Web Design: Did I score high enough on the final project?

So it’s off to the races. I think I’m going to walk to the mall (it’s about 1/2 mile away) and see if I can knock out the last two gifts!

*heaves huge sigh of relief*

Finally over. And what a friggin semester. I had more plagiarism this semester than I’d ever care for in a lifetime, and I’m not quite done dealing with it. I have an appointment in six hours to deal with my last, and most serious, case. I sure hope it goes smoothly.

I feel like I really screwed things up this semester. The whole time, I felt like I was just ruining them, not teaching them what I need to be teaching them, being too soft on them (I was bribed with Cheez-its and Dr. Pepper–FINALLY!!!–to cancel class once), and not giving them their homework assignments back in a timely manner.

All this insecurity is why I like assigning a “What have you learned” essay as the final. While I read them, I realize, and re-learn every semester, that no matter how much the teacher thinks she messes up, the students always manage to learn something. They might not get the lesson that the teacher aimed for, but at least they pick up something. And I guess that as long as they put in the average amount of effort in my class, they have to learn something, just by virtue of writing so much.

So what did I learn from my students this semester? Compassion. The disarming power of acknowledgment. Confidence. We are, indeed, all different. That I do know something valuable that I can impart to even those students who have an excellent command of rhetoric (one student called me a “scholar of the English language”! I don’t think he was trying to kiss up either, because he had earned obnoxiously high scores like 96 and 100). These are all lessons that I need and look forward to continue learning from the very people who come to me for knowledge.

As a student-who-is-also-an-instructor, I have learned that cultural differences can be difficult to overcome in a student-teacher relationship. I have learned to spot instructor insecurities. I have also learned that it is very unnerving to have those insecurities exploited. Teaching helps you become a better student.

As a student, well, I could write for hours on what I learned, but I’m starting to get tired now. I haven’t blogged much this semester because I’ve been struggling to keep up with the grad school/teaching load, but I hope to blog more during Christmas break. Unfortunately, my life gets pretty boring when I’m not in school, so hopefully I’ll have something meaningful to write about.