I have an issue with an instructor and I need an outside perspective. It's a long one and I'll probably give to many details, so if you can bear with me, I appreciate it.
Backstory: I am in my second semester of the RN year at a community college program (so I will have one semester to go after this, graduate in May). The program has had a lot of change and upheaval during my time there, including a new dean and a complete curriculum redesign that we got mixed into halfway through the program. It's been really frustrating for much of the time, but I've done what I can to be patient because I know change is difficult and that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that students don't see. There have been a few instructors that I didn't care for much, either because they didn't have the knowledge/experience to back up their position, or simply because they didn't respect us at all, but I've just kept my head down, worked hard, and gotten through. I'm a good student, and have not (including now) been at risk of failing out at any time.
This semester, the lecture portion of my class was supposed to be co-taught by two instructors. One of them left shortly before classes began for another job, so the school hired another instructor, "Ann," whose entire teaching career included a short stint at another community college in another state (she was apparently an old college friend of our new dean). From the start, it went badly: the first class the she taught solo, she was rude and accusatory. She yelled at us like second graders over perceived slights to her authority (e.g. someone rolling their eyes), and threatened to ruin anyone who even thought about trying to cheat on a quiz (something that has never been a problem).
Good example: even though the syllabus outlines that we should "skim" the reading before lecture and then actually do the reading after, she spent ten minutes one day yelling at us for being "unprepared" for not having done the reading before class and telling us that she has "no sympathy" for us because when she was a student she knew about "proper time management." Oh yeah, by the way, this was a lecture taking place immediately after a big exam.
Several times, she would use a high-school level vocabulary word and then stop herself and say, "Oh, you probably don't even know what that means, do you?" (Though at the same time she wouldn't concede that she was wrong about "dysphasia" not being a real word.) The classroom was always terribly tense, and several of my classmates, and even a few of our clinical instructors complained to the dean and the other instructor and the dean about how things were going.
My own personal beef with her was that she didn't really understand the material. Her first degree was not in nursing, and she went back to school, got licensed, and worked for just a short time before going into teaching. The only preparation she would do before class was to read our textbook, but instead of admitting when she didn't know the answer to a question, she would make one up (and was usually wrong). I didn't like driving an hour each way to listen to her essentially read from the book and then let class out early because she had so little to teach. However, I just kept quiet, sat in the back of the room, and rode it out.
After a few weeks, the other instructor "Laura" told us that they had decided to have only one instructor for each section, and so Ann would no longer be teaching our class (she's only doing the smallest of the three now...hmm). However, a week or so later, Laura became very ill and missed about two and a half weeks' worth of lectures, though she did come back for a day in the middle. Ann filled in for a few of those days, and then we were back to having only Laura.
Five points of our grade are designated as "professionalism" points, a new fad in the new curriculum. Basically, they are taken away when someone is constantly walking in late, being disruptive in class, leaves their cell phone
on, that kind of thing. It's a little insulting, but whatever...if you behave yourself it's 5 easy points. However, near the end of the time Laura was at home, there appeared on my grade report a deduction for a day that I was supposed to have been late for class a few weeks prior.
I emailed Laura to ask about it, and she said Ann had put in that deduction and she'd check into it when she got back. I KNEW I hadn't been late that day for multiple reasons. First, we took a quiz that day, and the policy throughout the program is quizzes are given as soon as class starts, and you don't get to take it if you're late for class. I was there, I took the quiz, and the gradebook proves that. On top of that, I knew I'd arrived WITH another student that day, and I checked with her, and she was not deducted a point.
On the last day the Laura ended up being (a Thursday), I began to get very ill. I emailed Ann (knowing she would be teaching that day) to let her know that I would be absent. I ultimately ended up hospitalized for the next three days (Fri, Sat, and Sun) with viral meningitis and then was away from school for several more recovering. Laura was very supportive and helpful during that time. However, a few days later, another deduction appeared for my absence on that Thursday that I became ill, which noted that it was "unexcused."
The class syllabus SPECIFICALLY notes that attendance is not mandatory
and this policy has been reinforced in class many times over. Laura has stated multiple times that she understands that life happens, kids get sick, work obligations can come up, that kind of thing, and so she just appreciates it if we let her know. I sent a message asking Ann about both that deduction and the one for the day I was supposed to have been late. She said that she had recorded I was late and basically that her attendance record is law no matter what, and ignored all of the issues I had with that deduction.
She also said that "a simple email" would not be enough to excuse an absence in the workplace and so it would not be accepted for class. Not only is that NOT universally true (because that's EXACTLY what I did when I missed a work shift that Saturday and my nurse manager was fine with it), but there is NO POLICY about unexcused absences
in the class (or program, for that matter)! I know MANY people who have missed class without losing points even if they didn't notify the instructor before or give a reason after AT ALL. What's more, I had missed a class early in the semester because of a sick child
who couldn't go to daycare, and was not deducted for that.
I pointed all of this out to Ann, as well as reminding her that she hadn't addressed any of problems with the "late" point. She totally ignored the second part, and said that if I had a doctor's note for the absence, I should send it to her. Luckily, my primary physician had given me one at a follow-up because he knew I was a student, even though I hadn't asked for one because I had no reason to think I'd need it. In the meantime, I met with Laura and found out that the attendance sheet DOESN'T EVEN SAY I WAS LATE
the day Ann said I was.
I sent Ann the medical excuse and AGAIN reminded her of the problems with the "late" day, plus the problem with the attendance sheet. She AGAIN ignored the part about the late day, and told me that the note would not be acceptable because it does not SPECIFICALLY list the day I was absent on it. It DOES mention that I was hospitalized the NEXT day...so she wants me to get ANOTHER note because she, as a nurse, can't ascertain that I was probably sick the day before I was hospitalized with meningitis?!
Really? (I may do so just to make a point, but I'm not going to make a special trip for it, so it won't be until my next follow-up in a few days.)
So, here I am.
On one hand, I know it's only two points. Like I said, it's not like I'm in danger of failing the class, and so part of me thinks I should just let it go. I won't have Ann for an instructor again. And honestly, I'm just tired of wasting time dealing with this.
On the other hand...in my first semester, if I had gotten two more points, I would have been up a whole letter grade, and I've never forgotten that.
But furthermore, I feel like this woman is a BULLY and she needs to have someone stand up to her. (I'm not the only one who has had problems, it's just that my situation is unique so I don't have anyone else to back me up.) I'm not sure why she's teaching if she has so much contempt and so little patience for us, but something needs to change. There is a huge difference between what Ann is doing and some instructors I've had who are no-nonsense and have high expectations of us, and she needs to learn that. I have so much to back me up, so I'm reluctant to just quit.
As for Laura, while I believe she is rooting for me silently, she does not want to "get in the middle" or try to override Ann. I can understand that because they will be colleagues on an ongoing basis, so my only recourse from here is to go to the dean of the program. (Though I do find myself wishing she would just change the grade, since this is supposed to be 'her' class now, anyway.)
The dean has a very welcoming attitude toward students, so I'm sure he'd have no problem meeting with me. However, a few of my classmates have a bad habit of running to him and complaining about every little thing, and so I'm really reluctant to be associated with that group. My only one-on-one interaction with him was when I was working on an honors project, which he was really excited about. I hate to ruin the goodwill I've earned with him by wasting his time with something like this. On top of that, there's the issue that he and Ann are old friends, and so I'm concerned that he won't be willing to step in and force her to make it right.
I need input - what do you all think? Should I talk to him, or should I not? Any other ideas? Thoughts?
Thanks in advance!