My super fabulous undergrad assistant for the last year, Liza, graduated this last weekend. She took my class her freshman fall (naturally, earning a well-deserved A) and I wanted her from the beginning to lead my post-screening discussions at some point. She has done a great job this year and I'll miss her greatly.
I had met her mom several years ago when her cousin Grant (who was also my assistant before Liza) graduated and the whole family came from Minnesota to celebrate; this time, because we couldn't join them yesterday for dim sum, Liza and her parents took us out for lunch. Among other things, her parents asked about what students were really like and I have her my impressions. "I have to say, however, that the thing that really gets me are students who expect to get an 'A' for class participation for just showing up. 'I was here, don't I deserve an "A"?'"
"Yeah, I mean, a potted plant can sit in the corner every day. Does it deserve an 'A'?"
"You know, you should do that."
"Bring a potted plant to class on the first day. And just sit it on the corner every class. And you can always point out that by the end of the semester, the potted plant has actually grown."
This, I have to say, is brilliant. If anybody gives me grief, I can just point. That potted plant is getting more of an education than you are! Sheer brilliance!
I have all summer to pick my potted plant. And my pot. Because the Fleischer memorial hibiscus, currently in my office, is just way too big for me to lug all over the place. Consider this a solicitation for suggestions.