Preamble: I'm an English as second language teacher in Higher Education. In this current period of more-than-doubled workload due to the hurried and inexpert transition to distance learning, this poem was prompted by one unnamed submitted file too many...
You are unique.
You’re the only you in the world. It’s true,
So I understand for you, it could be something new
to remember that for me, you’re one of 24
in one of the 8 classes I teach a week, sometimes more
Across 3 different year-groups, in 2 different schools.
5 programmes, 4 platforms, 3 passwords, 2 sets of rules
And all that, before I can even begin to learn your names.
And I know, you are unique.
but to me you’re all starting to look the same
And it’s tricky for me to remember who is who and where
And I don’t mean to complain, or to say that life’s unfair
But please. Here, this is me, reaching out
You would be so much easier to teach, without a doubt
If you’d just remember to put your name on your text.
With all I have to do, is it so much to expect
Not to have to deal with umpteen files of “devoir anglais”.
Can you imagine how much stuff like that I get each day
And I don’t think you can say that it’s the system that’s to blame.
Download doc, locate doc, oh dear, there’s no name
Open file, damn there’s no name in there either
Got to go back to the original email to retrieve it
To check who you are against what you sent
Don’t you think my time could be somewhat better spent?
Now I’m sure sure if common sense can ever truly be taught
But for me, so many extra clicks: life’s too short!
Dear student, yes, you really are unique,
But for me you’re one of 13 Guillaumes I see every week
So when you email me, please tell me which group, from which place
Anything to help me put a name to a face
And not have to look you up again in all my lists.
Just think of all the time lost and all the sleep I’ve missed
And while we’re on, I will respond, but it’s hard to say quite when
So yes, if it becomes urgent, feel free to send it again
But not within 24 hours, or even 48,
Yes I’m very sorry to have made you wait
And I don’t want you to think that I don’t really care
But my email inbox is the black pit of despair
By the time I’ve dealt with 5 emails, 6 more are there.
And if I’ve asked you to upload your work to an online folder
Please, just please, do what I’ve told you
How many times have I had ‘can’t find the place, so I’m sending it by mail”?
Well that’s very kind, but chances are you’ll fail
as it gets lost in that black pit of despair I mentioned before.
I’m not out to make life difficult, or be a total bore:
Perhaps you think it’s all part the job for which I’m paid
But less time chasing up your work, would mean more time to grade
And give you helpful feedback, and really help you learn.
But when it comes to the obvious stuff, I’ve no more hours to burn
I just need time to do my job, and then we all can win,
So please, just put your name on it: or it’s going in the bin.