Our semester begins today, and I'm worried.
I agreed to take on a fourth prep this semester by running a subsection of our senior seminar, taught by the Ancient Historian (we have a small field, so informally sharing classes like this is something we commonly do, though I'm starting to question the wisdom of the idea). These seminars are work-intensive for the students as well as the professors, so they are capped at 15 students. As of close-of-enrollment last week, we had 14. At this point, any student needs to petition to add. And of course we can take them, because after all, there are two instructors.
But there's this one student who wants to add, and add my section. Let's call him Sigibert.
I've had Sigibert in two of my upper-division classes before. The first, I barely noticed him, because he rarely showed up. Failed the class through sheer neglect. This past semester, he retook it, and got a B, though his work tended to be either excellent (a 96 on his midterm!) or utterly lazy. He's a bit of a medieval obsessive (SCA), and it comes through in his discussion contributions when he's there, but he's done more or less okay.
BUT please consider:
- The reason Sigibert is looking for a senior seminar this semester is that he failed the one he took last semester -- again, by simply showing up rarely, and doing the work even less often than that.
- The same semester that he effectively blew off my upper-division class, he was in the class of another colleague, doing lacksadasical work -- and somehere at mid-semester, he came into her office, got all up in her personal space (he's a big guy), and yelled at her for ten minutes about how her refusal to cut him slack was causing the deterioration of his relationship with his girlfriend or something like that. He got to the point where he was livid and shaking, and she refused to meet with him in her office for the rest of the semester.
- He's obsessed with Vikings.**
So, I was hoping that someone would come along and take that fifteenth spot, so the primary professor and I could steer him into another seminar. Either that, or he could delay too long, and I could legitimately tell him that he had missed too much, and I couldn't let him in. But apparently he showed up at my colleague's office on Friday, asking to be added, and I guess he was the first one to do so. So, there's one spot left, a student who is qualified to take it, and no reason to keep him out.
So... my mini-class that had 5 truly excellent people in it (I've had them all before) now has 5 truly excellent people, and one guy who may be okay, may disappear, or may decide to snap while on my watch. Should be interesting.
[UPDATE: Sigibert came to class today. So far, so good. Looks like I may have gotten all worried over nothing. And this is the only class he's taking this semester, so I'm going to be cautiously optimistic.]
**My seminar is not on the Vikings. It is on the Crusades. Yet when Sigibert first came to talk to me about the class (right after he found out that he'd failed the previous seminar), he responded to my explanation of the topic by asking if he could do his paper on the Varangian Guard.