Blundering teacher

A student from one of my last semester’s class sent me an email recently. The email went something like this:

“Dear Ms, how are you? I’m your student from subject ZYX. I got a B in your subject, and this has a terrible impact on my GPA. Please reconsider my grade and recheck my final exams and all various course components. I’m pretty sure I have done everything exactly the way you want it. …”

My reply was a short ‘no’ and sounded uncompromising. I could feel that this email was a side effect from what happened early this semester.

Within three weeks after the results were out, I had several cases of students asking for remarking. I realised that the potentially unfair grades were my mistake.

For instance, in one of my subject, I made a grading checklist using Excel and for each stated criteria, I put a check to indicate whether I felt the students had done an “Excellent”, “Good”, “Average”, “Marginal”, or “Poor”. I made formulas to calculate the final grade. Unfortunately, my attempt was flawed. “Excellent” was an equivalent of 85- an ‘A’ in our university.

I made the marking scheme in a hurry and failed to notice that this means nobody in the class could get an A for the project (unless they get a straight “Excellent” in every single criteria, highly unlikely though). To add to the damage, the project happened to be the highest contributor to the overall grade.

A student stormed at me stating how insane and unfair the marking scheme was, and some others wrote email asking if I could inflate their grades. Last semester, I admit that I sacrificed scrutiny to be able to meet deadlines, and believe me, confessing that I have erred was not an easy thing to do.

I decided to take out every single assignments, midterm examinations, and final exams and rechecked them one by one, not just for the subjects of conflict but also for every subjects I taught that semester. This process took almost three sleepless nights. I made amendments to the grades of all students in classes that were affected.

When I told my colleagues about my intention, most of them went against my decision. Grades had been released, they were final, and nobody could change it. Changing them means placing faculty members’ integrity and images at stake.

I wrote memos to the dean and academic bureau stating the details of my mistakes and how I wished to fix them. The reactions were quite strong. The head of academic bureau is a lady who is impeccable at work, she strictly warned me how dangerous these sort of mistakes are. I told her that this would be the last time I ever commit such errors.

We’ve heard the sayings ‘to err is human’. In reality, we could not take that saying seriously. To err really is inhuman, unless you are darn sure that the err damages nobody’s lives but your own. Having said that, I apologise for what had happened and it will never happen again.

In the future, there will be no more changes of grades not because I refuse to acknowledge the possibility of false marking, but because I will meticulously ensure correctness of every released grades.


19 thoughts on “Blundering teacher

  1. Berry says:

    Dear miss,

    Don’t be like that to me you are a good lecture, the mistakes is in ourself too, not well prepared with everything. I couldn’t ask for more to you…anyway you’ve already give the best to us 😀

  2. ivan says:

    well, to err is actually human.. but it is noble of you to admit it, and to correct it. just let the students know what they are expecting. you can be a sample of other lecturers, they are human too.. 🙂

  3. Yolan says:

    Dear Ms,

    Don’t blame yourself too much. Human error sometimes is usual 🙂 However you’ve already worked hard to try fixing it.
    Anyway, you’re one of our greatest lecturers

  4. kindy^^ says:

    its not a big deal miss,, ‘nobody’s perfect’,, cause we’re human being,right??
    well,, the hardest part actually that tell us you make a mistake,, but u do tat,, i appreciate that,, and our forgiveness are always open^^

    –keep on ur good work–

  5. Nellycan says:

    Hi Miss…

    For not being hypocrate, i was gladful for the changing,…
    Thanx a lot,…

    And I am really felt guilty to hear that your way became poor like this, sorry miss… really,… sorry,…

    I think like others said…
    you were really brave for changing and confessing that err,…

    and you have to know that you are the best pretty lecturer after all. –n,n–

    hope you are not being hate with us,…

  6. nebulousarion says:

    -_- oh no, i didnt know this post will cause so much reactions, must be Berry’s doing. Thank you all for the support, i hope i can be a better teacher too, just like my ‘da jie’ (elder sister) , Ms Tan ^^

  7. tazlambert says:

    But this proves that your student love you right…?ngahahaha..
    so what I did isn’t pretty bad at all 😀 (try to justify myself…)

  8. nebulousarion says:

    I love all of my students too ^^ ( this statement must not be interpreted wrongly ). What people didn’t know is : actually me and berry purposedly crafted this tactic in order to bring more crowds to visit this blog .

    Hmmm, the outcome is pretty good ^_^ hieheiehie …sudden increase of traffic

  9. tazlambert says:

    ^o^ yeap it seems so successful :P, why don’t you visit ours too, you can see in the blog roll some of our blog (promosi promosi…:D)

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