Monday, August 17, 2009

Recommendation Letters

One of the things I have to accomplish today is to write some recommendation letters for professional schools. One is for a good student, and the other is not. Here at pretty small U, we get to know the students well, so their recc letters can be very personalized. Unfortunately I know the weak student well enough that I have a lot of negative material at the ready for his letter, but not a lot of good material. Its my first letter for a weak student, and it will have to be crafted with care. The letters for the strong students are so much easier! I wish that while I was teaching I took notes about remarkable things that go on with specific students. Because even though I do pay attention, my memory fades pretty quickly that "Jamie" made a spectacular dissection of the sciatic nerve or that "Pat" was very patient in explaining a concept to a lab mate. However, some of the negative incidences are seared in my mind, especially those that deal with disrespect given to me or other students by a particular student. When those students come up for letters, I often ask to be recused from their committees. That's a real problem at a Really Small U, that if you lip off to your prof your freshman year, and that prof happens to be the head of the letter writing committee, you are screwed. I try to be as fair as possible with all my students. But I'm still working on the forgiveness thing. This weak student in particular wasn't disrespectful, just disengaged, so that don't fall into that category.

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