An object lesson in excuses

Sometimes students are mystified when professors take a hard line on late work–but last night my computer *really* did crash / my grandmother *really* did die.

Let me explain with an example from my own current organizational nadir: For several days now, I have been without my office computer.   This has presented a challenge in returning student work, since I only have electronic copies of it and I’d been dutifully tucking it away in various triage folders in Entourage.*

On Friday and Monday, then, I’ve been explaining to students that, no, I don’t have their papers, and can’t provide an estimate of when I’ll have them back.  (Especially since I lost the weekend . . . *that* was a blow.)

Mainly the students have understood this, although it’s a little stressful since everyone, quite appropriately, wants to know where they stand going into finals.  But there’s also been a little–wholly deserved–eye-rolling, since the crashed computer simply masks a larger problem: that I’ve been *really* behind on some of this.  Had I been caught up, or close to it, things would not have been so dire.

That’s the problem with the “my computer ate my work” excuse: It might well be literally true, but it doesn’t recognize a larger problem with the way the work was being produced.  (I.e., in a last-minute binge, rather than in drafts.)

This summer, God willing, I’ll be organized. Time for a revival meetin’.

2 workflow mistakes:

  • Not forwarding the papers to Gmail, or moving them to a flash drive, so that I could access them anywhere.
  • Not implementing a badass, comprehensive backup system.   I didn’t lose any data–I was backed up to that extent–but it wouldn’t’ve been easy in the short term to extract the relevant files from Entourage.
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