Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hobo Teaching Tip # 205(3)

I'm not sure how many of you out there happen to teach juniors, but if you do, then you are all too familiar with letters of recommendation for students. This is the time of year when you are overrun by past students scrambling back to you (the most recent teacher that's had them for a full year--and doesn't have to deal with them on a daily basis, so therefore doesn't hate them as much as their current teachers), asking for letters of rec that they need by "tomorrow."

I guess I can't say, "I was always impressed by the impeccable time management skills."

Great, the one time that being a teacher has clout, and it's for more work under a short time frame.

Well, you can't announce, "I will not give any of you a letter of recommendation, so don't ask me." That could get you into some hot water. So I devised a plan that works just as well. Whenever a student comes to me and asks for a letter I just say to him, "I would be delighted, but you know that I must tell the truth in this letter because that is what is expected of me."

This line, accompanied with the "I also know about that 'thing,'" look repels requests like no one's business. You see, I play the odds that this student has a school related misstep that they got away with, but still feel guilty for. It's something so terrible that they don't want to risk bringing it up again, and they rather walk away than risk the truth being revealed.

I'm like Jiminy Crickett, but I'm looking out for number one. Sure, there's going to be a student every now and then who will call my bluff, but they probably deserve it anyway. At least in theory--because I haven't written a letter in years!

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