Waiting for the Fallout

I missed a deadline last week.  I teach at ABC College, a proprietary school that is well-known for strict faculty grading deadlines, and I missed one.  I was aware of what I was doing and was willing to accept the consequences.  I had 48 hours to return feedback on assignments in two sections of the same class, and the deadline fell while I had a sinus infection.  I could have tried to get the grading completed, but I chose rest and pain medications.  I did get the grading done the next day and I know it was better feedback than I could have provided in the given timeline.

After missing the deadline, I woke expecting some sort of fall-out.  I had heard many rumors in my online newsgroup and from friends that those grade columns are monitored and negative feedback would come if I missed a grading deadline.  I opened my email with some sense of dread-nothing there.  I checked the classroom-again nothing.  I went through the rest of the day waiting for some sort of reprimand and went to bed that night to silence.  I have been waiting ever since for lightening to strike, and it never has.

I am now wondering if the rumors may be false.  Has this school gotten a bad reputation without cause?  Is the image of micro-managing adjunct faculty really wrong?  It could be.  My guess is that the classroom grade postings are not really monitored to the hour, but are checked on if there is a student complaint.  I have always gotten feedback in on-time, and this instance was only one-day late, so maybe the students were not upset.  I have just moved forward with my work and so have the students. This one slip may be a non-issue, but I still am on edge and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I know many online instructors dislike this school because of the grading and feedback deadlines.  I am really not that opposed to the deadlines.  The work needs to be returned to the students in a timely manner so that they can see the feedback and incorporate the changes in their next assignments.  The students are required to turn their work in on-time or they are penalized.  I am fine with having the same standards for my feedback. I should be leading by example in the classroom, not take liberties just because I am the faculty member.  I also have to admit that the deadlines keep me on-task and prevent procrastination. When I juggle so many classes, it helps to have set deadlines to help prioritize the workload.

Are the rumors untrue?  Is ABC college really not watching every faculty member’s move?  I have often gone against the group views with my opinions of this school.  Am I just lucky and managed to not get caught?  Or do I have a good track record and the micro-managers are busy watching other faculty members?  I would like to think that ABC College treats their faculty better than the popular opinion.  I would also like to think my long period of service and  teaching record is making me less of a target for ABC College to micromanage.

I know a warning could still be forth-coming.  I have not had a peer-review in quite a few months, so one of these two sections could be picked.  The reviewer could notice the late grade posting and it could could come to light.  I am willing to take the the feedback and any reprimand that come my way.  I do have to admit that I am still looking over my shoulder; the waiting is the hard part.  Maybe it would have been easier to have been caught and know the consequences.

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  1. Feedback: Timeliness may not be as important as quality

    It seems that the online institutions (at least for undergraduate programs) are unyielding when it comes to “student feedback.” However, it does not seem that much training and/or professional development goes into helping adjuncts meet the standards. I am an online adjunct instructor at MNO University and I have noticed that students won’t complain about the feedback as long as their grades are good. Sometimes it is impossible to give “detailed feedback” to students in a timely manner when the assignment present with difficulty. While the administration at my place of employment don’t seem to complain much about timeliness are whether or not one is meeting the quality guidelines for “effective feedback,” I have noticed comments from them in my individual end of term evaluations. Very vague comments such as: feedback not good–no suggestions for improvement. During a recent annual faculty workshop, all best practices were reinforced with new tips, suggestions, etc; however, when it came to feedback the same 5 sentences that were included in new faculty orientation were there. Undergraduate students are still developing their scholarly skills, so perhaps the online schools need to invest more into “feedback quality” rather than firing someone because of “feedback tardiness.”

  2. I worked for a college that sounds very similar to ABC. I missed a deadline once because my mother had a heart attack. I followed up with the people I was supposed to follow up with and yet, weeks later, was still reprimanded. Today, I received a phone call and was informed that I have been let go. I’m not exactly sure how I fell below the standard they had set out. I can not log in to see, and the last I checked, my reviews were all right (minus the heart attack week).
    I did not plan on returning to XYZ college, but being fired still feels like being fired. I was nervous every time I had an email or call from my superior as he/she never called for positive things, and I don’t think that’s a job I want.
    I wish you the best.

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