Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My misery can kick your misery's ass.


My students actually made me leave the classroom to "take a minute," so I didn't leap over the desks and punch one of them in the face.

Beat that, motherfuckers.

(For the mentally challenged, aka Jim, I mean: post your miseries in the comments. I will send chocolate to anyone whose misery can put mine into perspective.)

33 comments:

  1. You punch and you keep on punching; fuck them - who is the boss, you or they?

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  2. Being physically assaulted by students is no fun. Once when I was riding my bicycle home at night, some college boys drove up in two pickup trucks, and gleefully threw paper cups containing ice at the back of my head. They hit me both times, but it wasn't enough to knock me off my bike. I sure wish I'd been able to get their license plate numbers: it's good that I don't carry a gun, because I'd have used it. I seem to remember two of them from my big general-ed class, but with over 100 students per class, I couldn't pick them out in a police line-up.

    Physical assaults are (still) rare, though. Lesser crimes, such as stupidity, lying, and immaturity can disturb me more, because a sustained assault of them can wear me down. What exactly did your students do to make you leave the classroom so you didn't punch one of them, anyway?

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  3. So a friend of mine was on the South Beach Diet, and as I don't eat a whole lot of refined starch generally, I thought "Oh, what the hell, I'll do this with her."

    The problem: If you follow The Book strictly, you don't end up taking in a whole lot of calories the first few days. My friend is a good 5" shorter than me (I'm tall) and a bit sedentary...by a bit I mean she has no spastic dog and doesn't go to the gym five days a week.

    So I was hungry. Really hungry. Days of hungry. And my little fuckers wanted to ARGUE about their exam date. Not only did they want to argue about the date (set since the beginning of term) but they wanted to argue about the FORMAT because they wanted it to be FAIR. And they, of course, knew better than I, what was FAIR.

    So I listened. Oh, I listened. And then I went home and wrote what would have probably been the most difficult exam I've ever written. Not impossible and certainly not unfair, but not easy. The girls? They cried. The boys looked stunned.

    South Beach Diet + Annoying Students + BlackDog = DANGER, Will Robinson.

    FFF, dude, they threw stuff at you?!?! I don't carry a gun but I do have a machete and baseball bat that I use for home defense, and when I walk the dog at night through the Student Slums, I carry the baseball bat. The dog is no defensive weapon at all, she thinks everyone is her best friend ever.

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  4. I must say I'm more interested in knowing what your students actually did!

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  5. Oh, sorry, didn't mean to be all coy. I was showing them my grading rubric, and several of them got all up in my face ask what "guarantee" they had that I would abide by it.

    My own fucking rubric.

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  6. My misery is from a long time ago, but I did have ah, um, nontraditional-aged student screeched at me that I was a "stuck up little b*tch" during open-door office hours with a line of students waiting. I backed her out the door of my office, closed the door for a minute, and sat shaking. The next student to come in was dumbfounded and asked, "Are you all right?" I had to say, in all honesty, "Not quite." Later I called her adviser and said I did not intend to have her in my office ever again.

    Does that get me chocolate? Even an M & M would do.

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  7. Good Grief! I'm not surprised though. This notion that they are guaranteed things is part of the new consumer/student experience.

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  8. that story sucks, WhatLadder. truly horrible. I saw it on your blog, and think it's worth posting the link if you don't mind. I'd do it myself, but figured I should let you decide. I like your blog.

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  9. If students can make you cry, it's your problem. Seriously.

    Why are your feelings hurt. If they acted like that in my class, I'd say, "Tough shit," and carry on. They've beaten you because you let them.

    Stand up.

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  10. Tell them there is never a guarantee, but by providing them with the rubric, they have a recourse, which is more than the no guarantee they had before.

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  12. Hmm...I don't know. I think when your student is physically threatening or screams at you or whatever and you need a moment to recover, that's hardly grounds for being declared a eunuch. Sure, if you get a round of bad course evals and it paralyzes you for days, maybe you need some psychological help (I need it, fer sure.) But if you are assaulted in some way and you need a moment? Please. Take it.

    I also know that the times I've had to step outside are related directly to a sudden explosion of rage on my part...I don't get angry often, and when I do, I tend to yell, and in stepping outside for a moment I am attempting to exhibit professional behavior.

    Am I mistaken in these beliefs?

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  14. oooooooooh, okay. I shouldn't rise to the bait here, but let me tell you a bit more about psycho threatening student. He came with paperwork documenting his psychiatric condition. When the menacing began, I phoned up the psych folks (as instructed in the paperwork) and said I was having problems. They said they'd deal with it. They didn't. I called again, and said that I was really actually uncomfortable with this and that I was thinking about calling security.

    THEY SUGGESTED I HAVE A GUARD SIT IN MY CLASSROOM.

    What the fuck? I teach in a prison now? I need someone available to subdue the kid? WHAT?
    No lie.

    Shortly after the guard in your classroom convo, he disappeared. He probably beat the shit out of somebody else.

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  15. Wow, Troll--I mean Tim (not Jim) is on a roll today.

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  18. I have no idea where Dim and Dimmer got the idea I cried. I was moved to VIOLENCE, not tears.

    Full story at www.whatladder.wordpress.com

    I look forward to the troll brigade romping through my comments.

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  22. I didn't have tenure when Psychpath Student went down...and I suspect that part of the rage of the untenured is our spot between the rock (students) and the hard place (needing a job.)

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  25. Yeah, what Jim said.

    Rachel started it. I officially request that all of her comments be taken down.

    Ugly as dogshit, I guarantee you.

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  27. I think it depends on the questions the evals ask. Our institution mandated questions include one that says "is the prof approachable?" which opens the door for a lot of students to say "this prof is not approachable/intimidating". They don't actually use the word FEAR; I used that for humorous emphasis.
    If you don't have a question like that on your evaluation questionnaire, I imagine your students probably don't bring it up out of nowhere.

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  31. Once, I was giving my big gen-ed class a mid-term exam. A student left the classroom and then came back in. I hadn’t asked, but the purpose she gave for this was "to spit." I told her that if she left the classroom, she wouldn't be allowed to come back in and resume taking the exam. As I showed her, it specifically said this on the instructions on the front cover of the exam (and in the course syllabus), because this had been used by other students to cheat, in the past. She said to me:

    "The next time I have to spit, I'll spit on you!"

    She then gave me her exam (with her name on it), and left the classroom.

    Immediately after the exam, I reported this to our Incompetent Dean of Students. I told him that I wouldn't tolerate this abusive behavior. Reputable restaurants and hotels reserve the right to refuse service to unruly patrons: if one talks like that to a waiter or a bellhop, one can and probably will be escorted off the restaurant or hotel premises, by the police if necessary.

    I asked to have student’s registration for that class be voided. I also asked about what other disciplinary action could be taken against that student, such as expulsion from the university.

    Now, our Incompetent Dean of Students has a nasty habit of allowing plagiarism, since every time I’ve ever sent him copies of the plagiarized papers and the papers they were plagiarized from, he did exactly nothing. (I’ve learned just to give an F for the course, and if a student tries to fight it, start yelling like a drill sergeant: I have yet to get one who will challenge beyond that.) How do you think he reacted to this complaint?

    That’s right, he did precisely nothing, aside from leaving a phone message that “this appears to be abusive behavior.” (I’m amazed he did even that much.) Mercifully, this student dropped the course of her own accord. If she hadn't, I was planning to test the limits by refusing to turn in a grade for her. It's good to have tenure.

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  32. "...this prof is not approachable/intimidating..."

    I think this complaint is over-used and often quite irrelevant. I have had some of the most "engaged," "deep-learning" experience in my life with drill sergeants (OK, company commanders, since I was the U.S. Navy), when they were screaming at me at the tops of their lungs. I rather had to, quickly, and I still can recite the General Orders of a Sentry.

    One of my students once wrote I was "not approachable what so ever [sic]" and added, "Think twice before entering his office." I might have added that last was extraordinarily good advice, if one intends to barge in on me outside of office hours when I'm trying to work with another student, with the express purpose of obviously lying to me.

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  33. The nasty aside, I find this intimidation business interesting from both sides. I was shocked that someone thought I would be okay with having someone else in my classroom acting as "the heavy" in the case of psychopathic student. But I was also shocked when someone suggested that they found me "intimidating" because I was "so smart."

    Really? I say things like "Oh, man, I have this Shakira song stuck in my head" before class (true enough at the time) or "My concern here is that we are understanding each other."

    And I'm still intimidating? Say what?

    Hmm.

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