I received an email from one of my students last night, asking me to take a look at a paper she was working on. This is nothing new, in fact, it is encouraged. We appreciate it when students seek us outside of their allotted thirty minute appointments. This particular email, however, contained the following rare gem:

Can you take a look please? Also, it’s due at midnight.

The email arrived in my inbox at 10:09 p.m. Really?

Far be it from me to condemn a student for procrastination, heck, when I was an undergrad I was an elite procrastinator. But come on. Isn’t 10 p.m. a little late to be looking for a second set of eyes? By this point you should be logging on to submit your paper via Turnitin.

Moreover, dear student, you are making a major presumption about my free time. You clearly think I’m not doing anything of such immediate importance that I can’t drop it and attend to your request. Titling your email “A favor” is just an understatement. Let’s be real, I’m doing you more than a favor!

Some of my students say I’m mean. That’s not true. I’m cruel. There is a difference. That being, were I mean I would have ignored the email, or worse yet, responded to it, saying I was on vacation and would not help. That’s not my M.O.

Instead, I went over the first paragraph of my student’s paper making notes and corrections. I then emailed the paper back to her and told what I did. I also added that she would have to go through the rest of the paper on her own to find and correct her mistakes.

It was cruel of me to only start the corrections, but I feel that these students need to understand that, at some point, there won’t be someone there to guide them through their revisions. They need to develop and absorb the skills and techniques we teach them so they can do it on their own.

Part of teaching is knowing when to let your student do something on their own. If I can’t get my students to that point then I feel that I have let them down as an educator. Trying to stand on your own is the only way you know you can stand on your own.