Today I received an email (addressed to all of the student’s instructors, not just me) from a student that began thusly: “The information I will divulge in this email is confidential and though you are not legally bound to keep this between you and I, I do expect your discretion in keeping the following information private.” (The hyper-correction in that sentence is glaring, I know, but I can’t take the blame for it.)
Naturally, I will respect the student’s wishes by not divulging the particulars of what s/he went on to say (at some length, mind you), but let it suffice to say that it was way more information than I would have liked to know about a student. In a nutshell, it was basically a medical and psychological self-profile meant to illuminate the nature of the student’s rather erratic attendance and quality of work. (It’s worth noting, I think, that this is one of the students I had recommended to the department at mid-term.) And for what it’s worth, it was a thorough, warts-and-all kind of confession, complete with bulleted points, reasonably solid exposition, and everything. (Aside: I’m not making light of this student’s plight in the least, but I couldn’t help but think that this email would’ve almost made for a better memoir as is than the one the student turned in.) Ultimately, however, the point of the e-missive was to ask the following question:
“***What I need to know is if I can recover from my mistakes this semester? Also, what will happen if I miss more classes before the 8th, and if I can get my homework to do outside of class?***”
I should also add that I can vouch for some of the life details/information included in the email, because it so happens that I knew the student’s family when I was in high school—which is only to say that I don’t think this person is being melodramatic and/or making stuff up. Given this information, coupled with the fact that s/he has recently missed quite a few class periods, hasn’t turned in the final draft of the last paper (which was only a week ago at this point) or the rough draft of the current paper, and there’s only four class periods left (including the final exam one), what would you tell this student? And if you were to say that s/he’s pretty much SOL, would you assign an I or an F? Any feedback on this matter will be much appreciated.