I don’t know what your memories of college are, but mine are of generally liking my professors. There were a few notable exceptions, usually the ones where it felt like they let their opinions guide the class. I go out of my way to encourage my students to disagree with me as a result. I want good thinking, not thinking a certain way.

I mention this because, now that I’m the professor, I’m feeling more than a little bit beat up. I just finished a semester a few weeks ago, I’m teaching the accelerated winter term now, and I’m prepping my spring classes to begin in a little over a week.

I also had a student call the administrative offices today to complain about his grade. I don’t know who it was, as he’s never even spoken with me about it. And this is the type of student that bothers me the most—the one who can see throughout the term the status of assignments, due dates, etc., but waits until grades come out to complain, then goes all assault rifle on everyone. I get these every term.

It’s tough because there’s very little positive reinforcement. Because I wind up feeling like I’m crap at my job, even though I do my best. Like I somehow need to be working harder than I do—and I’m always working.

Maybe it’s because it’s easy to view teachers as the enemy—they give grades after all. But damn: a thank you every now and then would be good. Knowing that they’ve definitively learned would be great.

This is the bain of teaching introductory general education classes. They don’t want to be there. And they expect to be given an A for that.