I was fielding questions about students’ essays in class today, when one student raised her hand.
STUDENT: Are you mad at me?
ME: Um…Why would I be mad at you?
STUDENT: Because you didn’t answer my email last Thursday.
ME: Really? What was the email?
STUDENT: I emailed to tell you I’d be absent. You never responded, and I thought you were mad at me.
ME: I did take note of your email. I was just in the middle of looking at your essays and didn’t know you needed a response.
Another student raised her hand.
OTHER STUDENT: You did that to me last semester. I thought you were mad at me too. I even asked your wife about it, but she told me you’re just bad with email.
(My wife is also a professor at the college where I teach.)
ME: <uncomfortable pause> Ok, let me just say that I generally don’t get mad at my students. I tend to get mad at concepts more than people.
OTHER STUDENT: Oh…Like our essays?
ME: <radio silence>