November 2004

Monthly Archive

I’m getting a big head….

Posted by on 08 Nov 2004 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I am posting a couple of my students e-mail responses stemming from my forced resignation.  My students appreciated my honesty and candor about their stupid class.  I feel exonerated – still fired – but exonerated because my students have said it all.  These particular e-mails are from students who were basically flowers on the wall, meaning they never stayed after class to chat, or came in for extra help.  These students were never very vocal in class and did not stand out in the class.  I have many e-mails from my vocal students, but these e-mails from my flower students make me feel very good about what I was accomplishing in the classroom.  Here are their e-mails.

Not at all, your teaching was great
One thing I like about your teaching was that you went straight to the point.
I am not going to have fun at all with the new person I can guarantee you
that. You know me already if there is something wrong I would not hesitate
to voice my concern. I do not have faith in the biology department for some
reason. I have had some bad experinces from the day I was looking for your
office which nobody seemed to know up till now. I stick in there till the
end of the semester. Trust I will never take a class in that department.
I wish you all the best. And count on me if I need help I will surely
contact you for help.
Thanks again

I think that you are one of the best teachers I have had, you are
knowledgable, caring, and empathtic.  I can not believe that anyone in
their right mind could find you unfit.  But in the long run I am happy for
you because the pain is over and hopefully you can find somewhere that you
will be appreciated for the person that you are.  I have an idea of the
stuff you were going through and I am happy that it is over for you.  I am just
disappointed in the U.N.O program for letting you go.  Thank you for
being a teacher but most of all a friend.  See you on Monday…Good luck with
the interveiw…I understand if it goes long.

P.S. You will be missed!



Personally, I was very happy with your methods of teaching.
After the first day of lab, when you actually had us go around to the
stations, I was worried about what this lab experience was going to be
like. I noticed, as you’ve pointed out, that the answers are not always in
the stupid posters that are located at each station.
I was very pleased when, the following week, you made the outline more
closer to an actual classroom. Since this is an introductory class, I can only assume that us students
are really not supposed to know anything, and your format was much more
beneficial in that regard, in my opinion.
I think it really sucks that just because you make some changes to the
curriculum, only making it better for the students, and yet they are
forcing you to resign, is really ridiculous.
I find it ironic that individuals who are in the science community,
individuals that are supposed to realize that there is more than one
way to do something – and that the current way might not be best – are the
same individuals who are forcing you to resign.
You only missed one class. That is really nothing. I had an English
class my freshman year in which the teacher missed 11 or 12 classes. That
professor wasn’t fired.

Also, I have asthma, and I noticed you had an inhalor in class one
morning, so I am assuming you do as well. I know that if I was in the hospital
until 3 AM that saturday morning, even if I had set my alarm for the right
time, I might not have made it to class.
It seems like the people who are “above” you, apparently only by
position of authority, are real unforgiving bastards and their actions will turn
out to only hurt the students in your lab rather than help.

Thank you for being our lab instructor – I think you did a great job.

I hope all works out for you.
Jennie -

Thank you for letting me know what was up. I am sorry to see that you
must leave, since you taught better than any other TA that I have had in the
3 and a half years of college I have muddled through. I hope that you
find luck in wherever you may be going from here. One thing that I noticed
was that you have a very good way of relating with students, was curious as
to whether you ever considered teaching at a high-school/community college
level. Wouldn’t know if you would enjoy that, they can be  bureaucratic
bitches too. Again thank you, and good luck.


Jenny – I am so sorry about what happened, you don’t deserve the pain and everything involved. I feel INCREDIBLY satisfied with you as my TA and I’m going to be depressed going into lab on wednesday, and the following wednesdays as well. Is there anything that I can do anymore or is all said and done? I would like to try if it means you getting your position back. Thank you for being my favorite teacher this semester, take care of yourself. If I need extra help, which I will I’m sure, I will be knockin’ on your door. Thanks again!


This particular student tried to take this class a couple of semesters ago.  He actually told me that he requested my lab section this semester.  Here is his e-mail.


First off I would like to say that the biology department here is full
of shit-heads if they cannot see what a wonderful TA you have been to
all of us.  We appreciate you more than you will ever know it.  I know
that you had to do what you had to do and refuse to think that anyone
who knows you can blame you for your decision.  I personally would not
deal with the likes of these people either.  I hope all is well for you
and that you complete your goals despite all of the UNO turmoil.  I
would like to think that on some level even if it is a very small one we
also became friends during these last 2 semesters, so from one friend to
another good luck and we’ll be seeing ya.  I have your number and will
surely call for help or just to say hello.  May you be blessed with
serenity to accept the things you cannot change,  the courage to change
the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference..-


It is really nice to know that I was reaching my students.

The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil.



Leave of absence…

Posted by on 05 Nov 2004 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

So I went to the BIG meeting and was told that my dismissal process had started on Monday.  This meeting (on Thursday) was just a formality to let the me know about the department’s decision to dismiss me.  Great.  Verdict and sentencing before I was even aware there was a problem.  I am taking a temporary leave of absence from all things academic until further notice, effective yesterday at noon.  I was very unhappy at grad school anyway.  This semester my disenchantment with grad school was at its worst.  I wasn’t sleeping or eating or even teaching very well.  My schoolwork suffered a lot.  I need a break, the opportunity presented itself, and so I took one.     

I feel slightly giddy.  I actually got some sleep!  I haven’t been able to sleep in months.  This may be a veeerrry dangerous thing.

I applied for a job online Thursday afternoon and was called Friday afternoon for a phone interview.  I have a final interview on Monday!  I just applied.  They said it would take at least a week to hear anything from them.  This just affirms my belief in everything happens for a reason and there are no coincidences in life.  Yeah me.

Would you like fries with that?

Posted by on 04 Nov 2004 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Yesterday was a really shitty day.  Bush won (more about this later) and I was personally attacked for everything I had ever done wrong in the class I TA, 1020.

In this three page memo, I was told that I was shirking my TA duties, not showing up for the meetings and not proctoring enough of the said exams.  The students have four exams.  There are three sections of the exam.  During two of these times I teach 1020 lab.  Am I supposed to teach lab or proctor an exam?  Proctor I guess, since that is what is more important here.  This memo went on to blame me again, for things that I thought were already discussed, I was already disciplined for, and I thought were put to rest.  Well that’s what I get for assuming, it makes an ass out of you and me.  Mostly me at this point.  

Issue One:  Meetings – As for the meetings, see my blog post “It’s always been this way…“ about that.  These meetings are at noon on Mondays.  I have class in Lincoln until 10:50 am on Monday.  It takes about an hour to drive back to Omaha.  This means that if class gets let out late, or the construction is especially hideous I am late for the meeting.  They supposedly knew this at the begining of the semester, but it is now the end of the world because I missed last Monday’s meeting. 

Issue Two: Blatant disregaurd for my duties – I missed lab on Saturday, it was as my husband put it, an honest mistake.  I set the alarm for nine, well class starts at nine.  Now I am being irresponsible.  I thought that things were already cleared up about this, I got yelled at on Tuesday about this when I got yelled at for missing the meeting.  Assuming, again. 

Issue three: Student endangerment – My first semester teaching, I had a fist fight in my class room.  Unit nine is the evolution unit.  A very Bible oriented individual and a very atheistic individual got into a fight.  They obviously did not see eye to eye over this evolution unit.  This was four semesters ago.  At the beginning of the evolution unit I show a film called crerationism vs. evolution.  This film interviews a scientist that does not believe in evolution.  He is in the camp that thinks the Grand Canyon was formed in a matter of weeks.  The film goes on to show the museum in San Diego, the Scientific Creationist Museum, that displays the theory of everything being created in seven days.  BTW the exhibit for the seventh day is a park bench – the day of rest.  Then the film interviews Steven Gould who is very, very pro evolution to the exclusion of all things spiritual.  If you don’t know who Dr. Gould is, he wrote several books, his last one is called the Panda’s Thumb, in which he describes the evolution of the panda’s thumb from a wrist bone.  He says, “…if God had made the Panda from scratch, He wouldn’t have done such a crummy job…”

This has been a very effective way for me to introduce this unit.  I know it’s effective because my teacher evaluations, even from the first semester, list that film as something the students remember most about that class.  Well four semesters later, this three page memo said I had endangered the lives of my students and disrupted the learning process by showing an unapproved film.  When I went to get the film approved, the coordinator did not want to see it, she told me she trusted my judgment about its appropriateness.  Well now it’s unapproved.

Issue four: Not following curriculum – see my blog post “It’s always been this way…“ about this.

Issue five: Missing seminar – Seminar is this hour every Wednesday at noon in which the grad school community gets together and listens to someone give an hour presentation about his/her research.  Before grad students are given their degree they have to give one of these seminars.  Well last semester I was scheduled to teach 1020 lab from 11am to 2pm on Wed.  Does anyone see a problem with this picture?  I am now in trouble for missing a semester of said seminar.

Issue five: Insubordination – Two semesters ago, there was a fire in my classroom.  The hot plates we were using had to date back to the 1800s.  I was doing a demonstration in which I had to heat beakers of oil and water in order to show how the cell membrane worked.  The hot plate under the oil caught on fire.  The coordinator in her infinate wisdom, locked the fire extinguisher in her office, because “it looked too ugly hanging on the wall.”  When the fire started she came out of her office and proceeded to help by jumping up and down and yelling fire.  Oh that is real helpful!  Then she proceeded to try and throw water on the fire.  Water on an oil fire, oh there’s a great idea.  So I told her not to.  Had to block her from getting to the water faucet.  I put the fire out with the fire blanket that’s in the hallway.  And so now I’m in trouble for insubordination.

Issue six: Not following procedure – This semester I had a student who tried to eat some agar cubes.  They are bright pink and look like jello.  They get soaked in HCl to make the color go away.  This little exercise is supposed to teach the kids about diffusion and surface area.  Well this student ate an agar cube that had been in the HCl.  I called poison control.  I did not follow procedure by a) not informing my students of the hazards of eatting and drinking anything in the lab and b) not finding a professor or “grown-up” in charge before I called poison control.  Now that is a swell idea – spend ten minutes running around the building trying to find someone in charge to ask for permission to call the poison control center.  Sure not following procedure, sure whatever you say “grown-ups”…

The memo goes on.  I was just shocked.  I have a meeting today with all the higher ups about these issues.  I am so going to win that fight let me tell you.  When working as a manager at McDonald’s sounds a lot more appealing than being a TA something is WRONG!  Here’s to higher education and tying to make a difference – would you like fries with that?