I've been writing exams today and pondering my syllabus for this summer. I try to be professional in my course outlines and goals, but something about exams brings out the goofy in me. A little humor seems to actually help students relax during an exam, but it's best limited to the extra credit questions, rather than the essays. The round of questions I wrote before lunch (I need to write several versions of the same exam)contained far too many in-jokes and references that no one but me will understand.
I take that back "none of my students." The joke about being "nailed to a perch" will have to go, as will all of the As Time Goes By references, though I might keep a few of the names. The lemming joke should probably be dispensed with as well, alas.
I hate making multiple choice exams almost as much as I hate grading them. The one perk is that they do allow you to express the sillier random pop culture aspects of your personality. Alas, I am not all that funny, nor am I being paid to do so.
Over teh years I've written quite a few letters of rec for former students, and so far I have a 100% acceptance rate. I've just heard from one of them. He seems a nice guy and was a fair student, but not great. I tried to highlight what he'd learned about writing from me and stressed the improvement in his grades, but feared it might not be enough. Whew! He got in.