Thursday, September 1, 2011

Battling Subjectivity

I know where I stand on the matter. Others may not agree with my assured conviction, but they’re wrong. The first day of school is often overlooked, sometimes even labeled as ‘trivial’. On paper, at least, it is just that. A brief sampling of the year to come, that’s the principle behind the 40-minute blocks. Introductions, opening remarks, materials checklist, etc. Boring shit, yeah? It is. Still ecstatic from reuniting with all of your friends again, you might not even pay attention to what’s being preached. This is normal—rather, it’s common. And teachers expect nothing less…or so they think.
         Unfortunately, the subconscious is a cruel, unpredictable beast. Humans have the capacity to record feelings, impressions, without any acknowledgement on their part. These are the kind of impressions that creep into the grading process at the end of the first quarter, and by some sleight of hand, flop that borderline A- to a B+. The kind of shit that drives students into psychosis. People, however clichéd and repulsively overused the expression is, you only get one chance to make a first impression (excluding certain scenarios involving Halloween parties, grandparents with Alzheimer’s, or technology that hasn’t been invented yet). This is especially stressed if you are taking primarily new professors. Granted, teachers will have intrinsic bias of which you may have absolutely no control over. Some common examples: athlete-haters, boy-haters, girl-haters, loud-haters, quiet-haters, republican-haters, gay-haters, Mexican-haters, or perhaps the most common (and most deserved), asshole-haters. THESE are out of our reach in terms of student regulation, unless you can somehow prove that the teacher who doesn’t give A’s to lacrosse players is atoning for the douchebags who forced him to eat urinal cakes in high school (does anyone know if that kind of stuff actually happens? #parkbubble).
Luckily, through sacred knowledge passed down from students who made it their job to do as little work as possible in school, we have some tips that will help swing the odds in your favor.
FIRST, meet with your fucking teachers. They love the attention, and it shows initiative on your part. Teaching is in the business of helping people, just like doctors. They want to teach you, aid you. And in addition to showing them your ambition to understand the material, you also build personal relationships that will weigh into your grades.
SECOND, bring all of your supplies, every class, and every day. It may sound stupid, but teachers like to see consistency in their students. They pick up on that kind of stuff. Think about it, does the kid who is always borrowing the textbook or the teacher’s calculator ever get a good grade? Ever? And if you can manage it, that goes for homework, too. It doesn’t have to be anything special, as long as you get it in on time.
THIRD, it’s all about how attentive you are in-class. Make eye contact with your teachers as much as possible. I’m not talking, like, eye-fucking, just clear contact. And laugh at their goddamn jokes, no matter how bland. Adults are just kids with bigger limbs and more responsibilities. They want to feel like they’re entertaining you; make that apparent.
Now you have all the tools you need to produce garbage work and still do relatively well in school this year. Pair these tricks with decent work, or even good work, and you will have successfully eliminated teacher bias from your evaluations. Happy slacking.