Teaching Staff Rant

I have some great members of teaching staff at uni. For the most part I enjoy tutorials in particular because they really help me understand topics that sometimes don’t seem to make sense when I’m trying to grasp the contents alone out of a huge, wordy textbook. I also really admire some of my tutors on a personal level because of how knowledgeable and/or kind and/or helpful they have been.

Unfortunately as a result of my poor health I quite frequently miss classes. In my first semester this year I basically was unable to go to lectures for the last two months or so. As you can imagine this has made keeping up with work impossible and I have been struggling a little. On the plus side my attendance at tutorials has increased this semester compared to the first semester of my first year and they are far more important than lectures so it’s not all bad.

Anyway although as I say most of my teaching staff are excellent, there are some who aren’t. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be a member of university teaching staff, particularly if you frequently come across groups of students who don’t seem to be pulling their weight and expecting you to spoon feed them everything and then being blamed when they do shit on an exam they didn’t study for. Yes, it must be a pain in the actual ass. It must be disheartening when nobody seems to have done the required reading. It’s probably annoying when only half the group turn up to the class at all. And it must be really irritating if you feel that you put time into teaching something that nobody was listening to because they all missed it out of their assessment answer. It must drive them absolutely mad and I don’t think I would be very good at bearing that! However teaching staff have a lot of responsibility and I think there are some who are too judgemental of students when they do not perform as well as you would want them to.

I did poorly on the last two assessments I got back (both mocks thankfully). Most of that was down to the fact that I didn’t reference anything at all because I didn’t realise I needed too (we did a similar thing last year and we weren’t required to reference as we are examined on these subjects and obviously you don’t reference in an exam so I figured it would be similar as exam practice but turns out it wasn’t). That is my fault for not reading the question properly so obviously I lost loads of marks. I have an academic mentor at uni who helps me with work and I got her to look at the answers and she told me if it was an exam I could add like 20 marks to each of them because I lost loads just for not referencing and generally they’re not too bad (although one was significantly better than the other). This helped and I trust her judgement entirely. However I think it’s irresponsible of one of my tutors to leave nasty scrawls all over my work: “poor” (just “poor” on its own…poor what? how am I supposed to learn from that?), “clear lack of effort”, and some other few words that I can’t actually read because of his appalling handwriting. Oh and a question mark next to something I wrote. How on earth am I supposed to learn anything from that feedback at all, apart from the fact that my tutor is so judgemental as to assume because my work wasn’t so great this time around I didn’t bother with it at all?

I don’t know whether all tutorial leaders get any training about how to deal with disabled students or students going through personal difficulties. It is likely he does not know that I fit into those categories; but that doesn’t matter. A tutor should not be so quick to judge a student. It is really disheartening for me, who had been suffering badly with my mental health but still spent time and energy answering that question and submitted it, to get “clear lack of effort” scrawled on the paper when I can tell you sir it was anything but. Some of the teaching staff need to consider whether their comments are always constructive or whether they’re just taking a bad mood out on a student who may not deserve it.

Again, this is only a tiny minority of teaching staff through my own experience. Most of them are fabulous.

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