Sunday, October 5, 2014

my different stages in student supervision (for a particular student)

I have a very difficult student at the moment. Difficult because hir is just very, very slow and has the ability to ignore deadlines up to a painful limit. I went through various emotional stages during supervision and it has been a constant decline.
I started with "Enthusiastic", because the student seemed to be smart and motivated and hir spoken English is pretty good. I like hir project a lot. It was a neat little project that allows the student to peak into a few experimental techniques, but not too much stuff to do for the time frame given.
After the first weeks in I realized that the student had some self organization problems and that hir might need a bit more hand holding to get through the initial stages than what I would usually expect from a student on this level. 
Being enthusiastic dropped to being motivated. I thought, maybe that's just ignition problems and when hir gets to do some experimental work the going will get easier. Well, the way towards getting clearance for doing experimental work was long and stoney and plastered with continuous reminders from my side that hir needs to do the clearance paperwork ASAP. Nothing happened. Literally for months! My motivation dropped continuously.
I had a short caring phase in between this decline of motivation, where I tried to figure out why, Why, WHY is hir just refusing to get hir shit together. Does hir have too many classes during the week? No, not the case. Does hir have a stressful job outside uni? No to that as well. Are there personal/family/friends issues holding hir back? No, everything seems to be sunshine.
Then at some point clearance happened. I still don't know how, but suddenly the experimental work could get started - after more than half of the thesis time was over. I started to hope and tried to motivate the student to keep up the tiny bit of momentum and maybe even accelerate, because the deadline was looming already at the horizon. My student was not impressed - or maybe hir was overwhelmed by the fact that now doing more than one task per week was expected. And the work was still not done at a pace that could lead to a successful finalization of the project. 
At this point I got angry. Not because the student was going to fail the thesis, but because hir expected that everybody else involved (technicians, colleagues, me) would put in all effort to make stuff happen for hir. As if we are just sitting in our offices the whole day, doing nothing, just waiting that hir comes along and gives us something urgent to do. And all because hir was not able to start work a bit earlier.
I had a day where I was so angry it distracted me from doing my own work completely. Which of course made me even more angry. I slept over it and decided to not care anymore. I still care about the project, but in the long run it does not depend on this particular student. I do my job to support the student, but I won't bend over backwards anymore to make stuff happen for hir. I'm sort of indifferent at the moment - which is quite sad. I love to be emotionally involved in the progress of my students, to celebrate their progress and to motivate them through dry phases. But this student brought me to my limits. There seems to be no not even tiny spark of motivation and willingness from hir side and I really wonder why hir came all the way to this theses project. Maybe I am the wrong supervisor for this student, but maybe hir just studied the wrong subject all these years. So right now indifferent with a hint of sad!

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