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?