28 Aug

assignment deadlineI entered the lecture room eagerly as I couldn’t wait  to see the presentations the students were going to make.  Boy, was I excited.  No one was present.  They were never usually late so that should have been the first red flag but pity me all wrapped up in my excited anticipation did not pick it up.

Twenty minutes later, they strolled in collectively.  It had never happened.  Another red flag but I missed it.   They were not their usual animated selves;  another red flag. I missed it too. I attributed the almost lethargy to them being tired from their involvement in the college’s events  of the past few days, and  earlier that morning.

I proceeded to give the ground rules and order of presentations then I sat  expecting  compliance. I was not prepared for what happened next.  NO. ONE. MOVED.  This was when I woke up from my excited anticipation to face reality.   As any responsible person would do i made an inquiry.  Quite bold and audibly, the spokesperson announced :

“Miss we are not ready. We are not finished so we can’t present today. Can we do it next week?”

My eyes opened,  my lips parted,  I instinctively clasped my hands, my chest heaved.  I slowly, softly and sternly uttered  “What. Did. You. Say”?  ( All this time in my mind I am praying “Lord help me find the right words. Let me not blow a fuse.  Curb my tongue”).

No one responded to my soft utterance.  I  stood, looking the all five feet, eight inches of me,  and strutted purposefully  to the front of the lecture room. I said calmly:

 “Today is the ONLY day we are doing this.  The person or persons who misses it, will receive a zero – even if it is the entire class”. 

The spokesperson opened ‘his’ mouth to speak . I stared at ‘him’.  He must have felt its poignancy because nothing came out. I returned to my sitting position.

It hit home.  They realized I was serious.  They started scrambling for their materials.  They attempted to do the presentation. They all failed miserably except two.

Two days later, in my office,  I was visited by two of the students.  I wasn’t in the mood to speak to them. I was still upset but they were persistent.  So I granted them audience but kept writing.  Again, I was not prepared for what I heard  next. One said:

 “Miss, I want to apologize for what happened in class but I respect the decision you made”

Now they had my attention. I placed my pen down looked at them. She continued:

“Yes miss I respect it. We have always relied on going to lecturers as a body; an entire class speaking with one voice. When we do that, we always get the extension. This is the first time it has never worked. We were not prepared for it”

I started laughing. I am still not sure why I was laughing but that was the only response that came out.

The other student joined in.

” yes miss it really surprised me. Didn’t know you would say no. I felt so bad.  But miss, I am starting your next assignment later”

I laughed again. “Lesson learnt”?  I asked  mockingly

“Oh yes miss”  they chimed alternately in varying tones of resolution

They then left.

The long and short of it is, ALL  subsequent assignments came in  on time and we well done.

While at Secondary  Level Education…

  • I was constantly accused by several individuals of being hard on my students when I:
  • Refused to accept late assignments
  • Deducted marks for incomplete assignments
  • Ignored parents pleas for mercy as they accepted responsibility for their children late or incomplete assignments.

I frequently  heard:

“you too difficult man”

“yuh hard eeh”

“you don’t belong in the classroom”

“so why yuh affi so hard”

“I don’t like her; she coulda well ah tek di work”

Thank God my mettle was made of sterner things or maybe I would have believed it all.

As I transitioned to tertiary education, I was even more convinced I was not hard on my secondary students.  I was simply preparing them for life after high school.

As educators, we need to set  and maintain standards. Be consistent.   If we do this, our students will rise to meet the standards.

I am a sucker for deadlines. What about you?

*picture taken from google images


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