Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Countdown--Five Worst Students of My Career (so far)

To get our 2013 off to a good start, I thought I'd share my top five worst students of my teaching career (so far). These are the students that I remember, for all the wrong reasons.

5. Sour Sabrina This student was so unpleasant and rude in class that I wrote a cover-my-own-ass email telling her that she needed to straighten up and fly right or get a zero in participation. Her bad attitude and dodgy attendance were why she had failed the course the first time (not with me) by fifteen points. Needless to say, I was the target of her venom for being "unjustly" required to retake the course. She was so nasty that no other student in class wanted to do any in-class activities with her. I missed one day in the class, and the colleague that covered for me asked me--six years later--if I remembered Sour Sabrina. You have to be some kind of awful for someone who covered a class only one day to remember how disrespectful and miserable you were. I got an entire term of it.

4. Morose Marvin This kid gave me the fucking creeps. The kind of creeps that make you say, "He would bring a gun to campus and kill me." There was something wrong with him; nothing that I could run to campus security and go "Please help," but something that deeply, deeply unsettled me. I sincerely tried to engage with him and try to get to the bottom of it. He took two courses with me, but I couldn't shake the creeps his lack of affect and emotional response gave me. I cried when I saw his name on my roster for the second course. He scared me, but again, he had done nothing wrong.

3. Fur loving Farrah Seriously. This student wore real fur to class. She also had a bunch of designer bags and jewelry, which made me think that she was at our sad little institution because she hadn't really dedicated herself much in high school. She fought over every point; I did make ONE mistake misreading her handwriting, and I immediately fixed it. However, she went to my boss and caused such a fuss that my boss unofficially switched her to a colleague's section, but Fur loving Farrah got to give me the official evaluation. She was so entitled and prissy in it that I still hope PETA splashes red paint all over her fur-wearing pain-in-the-ass.

2. Drama Danielle Drama Danielle and her roommate Drama Darlene were in my class together. Drama Darlene had kids and needed accommodations, which I was willing to make up to a point. However, when Drama Danielle and Drama Darlene had a huge falling out halfway through the term, the entire class fell apart. I could not manage to keep the class on track as either Danielle or Darlene caused problems with each other. In my defense, I was new to teaching and had never encountered such a clusterfuck situation before in my life. It was a small class, and having half the class at war (people took sides), took everything out of me. To top it off, due to my inability to manage this situation, I was told that I couldn't handle teaching an intermediate course in my subject, and I was barred for the rest of my time at that institution from teaching anything about in the elementary level. Why does she make the top five? Because Drama Danielle continued to contact me after the class through Facebook, and even asked me to help tell a guy in Gerbil that he was "an amazing kisser" but that he was "too young for her." Awkward. Again, I had no idea how to handle this situation (young graduate student), and my coordinator at the time was very "hands off," leaving me to try to write the damn email (because I had huge boundary issues at the time) and hope she stopped contacting me.

1. Cheating Charlie Charlie added himself (never talking/emailing/asking me) to my accelerated intersession course three days into the term. I told him he should get his money back. When I walked out of the classroom that day, I overhead him telling his friends while making eye contact with me, "She's such a fucking bitch." He refused to drop the course. He didn't turn in homework assignments in that week. He would leave for upwards of 20 minutes in the middle of class to go smoke. He would come in late. He would interrupt class. Constantly. I would manage the disruption the best I could, but he was making my life hell. During the first exam, I was pretty sure he was copying from his neighbor's exam. I scanned and photocopied both exams, but wasn't sure I had him dead to rights. The next exam, however, I was damn sure he copied. My boss agreed. He fought me for over a week. I told him he could sign the paperwork or not, but that it was going to the plagiarism office in two days. He didn't think I should include the first exam. I said I couldn't write him up for it, since I had returned it, but I wanted to show the plagiarism office why I suspected he copied on the second exam. He was mad that my boss was not in town during the intersession. He said he would continue to come to class (which he had every right to do), and I began counting down the days until the intersession was over. I even wrote up a letter of resignation. I was willing to walk away from that class and have someone else deal with it. The second to last week of the term, he stopped by my office and said he wasn't going to attend class any more. I was relieved. Happy. Elated. But the damage was done. The class didn't like me; they thought Cheating Charlie had gotten too much slack. Those evaluations were some of the lowest I have had over this decade of teaching.

Happy New Year's folks. May old acquaintance be forgotten and never brought to mind, and may this be the worst of the students I have to teach.


  1. I had so many such students during my years as an instructor, I've have to award group prizes. In fact, during my last year of suffering--um, er--teaching, I had a class in which the majority were like that.

    I still feel a twinge of pain when I think of them.

  2. I think I would go the route of Strelnikov: shoot them in front of the other students to leave a good message.

  3. I had a student who fought me every step of the way last semester. He was late to every class by about 20 minutes... all his other professors let him come to class late. I explained, 1) I was not all his other professors, and 2) he can come late if he wants, but there are consequences. Secondly, he fought the specifications on all the assignments... up until the very end, when I think I finally got through just a little bit. That, in and of itself, was rewarding. But it didn't make up for the fact that this student sucked up my time, and made me dread just walking into the classroom.

  4. Sister, 2 of those 5 are my students, too. UGH.

  5. I believe I had two of the five last semester. Only it was one student that was two of the five.

  6. I'm sitting in a public place right now, reading this blog and doing some last-minute dissertating before the new year. One of my most assholish students just walked by, my own Sour Sabrina. I know I live in a small town, but this just seems like an unlucky omen for the year to come.

  7. I'm fortunate that either my students are pretty good or I just have a poor memory. I only remember two students. One was a nice enough kid who failed my class. What makes him stand out is that he failed the class a total of six times. He wasted almost an entire academic year's worth of tuition on one stinking class.

    The other student was honored by being the main character of my very first RYS post, which you can find here:

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