Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hey, I've Just Recently Found Out That Lots of Readers Hate the Mascots. And Enough Time Has Passed Since I Was Told How Much People Hate the Flashbacks. So, Here We Go Again. Remember. The Page is Dying. It's Always Dying. 8 Years Ago.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Old School: Tammy in Topeka is Tired of T.
I can't resist the chance to put the smackdown on T. who is in my English Composition class this term.

He was home schooled, preciously so, and he works that detail into every discussion. He won't shut up. He comments on everything I say and everything anyone else says. He tells us, "This is the way it is for home schoolers. We're very active and involved."

After someone in class read her opening paragraphs to us, his comment was, "I wouldn't read any more of that. I think that maybe she needs a new topic entirely; Dr. Tammy, what do you think?" When someone in class quietly said "Harsh," he replied: "This is how it is for me. I'm all about telling the truth, and sometimes people don't want to hear it. But that's my way. People either really love me or really hate me." (You can imagine how that was met by his classmates.)

Three times in four classes we've heard how T. doesn't watch TV, and certainly doesn't read the "porn and obscenity" on the Internet. He was taught by his family in the "great books tradition," and he doesn't understand why our class in expository writing can't do the same thing. When asked to purchase the textbook for our class (a writing rhetoric with instructions and assignments about writing short essays), he said, "Can't I find the same stories and poems in one of the anthologies I already have?"

After each of the classes so far T. has stuck around to deconstruct the class with me. He said yesterday, "I think that went pretty well. I could tell that S.'s feelings were hurt, but I think it's better she learns now that her essay isn't good rather than later. I'm sure she'll thank us later."

I'll admit I'm a young professor, but I've never had a student like T. I suppose some of you will say it's good that he's so involved, but this early on he's already sucked all the life out of that classroom, and I don't know how to rein him in so that others can have a voice as well.

13 comments:

  1. This one seems to have been well-practiced in being the teacher's pet. Reining him in requires disabusing him of that notion.

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  2. "T, let someone else speak."

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  3. T, since you are new to the classroom setting, here's how it works. The professor's role is to run the class and provide feedback. That's me. You are one of (20?) students. You are all equals. Your role is to listen, learn, and participate, in that order. When one student dominates the discussion, that is disruptive and disrespectful to everyone else in the room.

    Your behavior was disruptive when you did x and y.

    No, I am not asking for an explanation. I am telling you how it is.

    Do you want to succed im college? Then listen up.

    Which one of us is the professor? Right. No more interruptions.

    Here is the form I submit about disruptive students. I have checked off the behaviors you need to stop doing. This is your only warning. The next time you behave disruptively, I will dismiss you from class, sign this form, and send it to the Dean of Inquisition. Is that clear?

    I didn't ask for an explanation. Is the form clear? Good. See you next time.

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    Replies
    1. And if your school doesn't have such forms (I'm pretty sure mine doesn't, or at least they're not in general use), you can always borrow a trick from '80s-style feminist pedagogy, and issue every student 2-3 cards (playing or index) at the beginning of each class period (at least for a few class periods), and explain that, to increase participation in class discussion, you're instituting a rule that everyone has to turn in a card each time (s)he speaks, and no one may speak if (s)he's used all hir cards for the period. This works well in classes where the problem is too many students who want to speak; for today's classroom, you might also have to find a way to encourage more people to speak (e.g. by putting names on index cards, and giving participation credit each time a card is used).

      There are also some good suggestions out there for guiding students through appropriate workshop behavior, including things like requiring that reviewers mention both strengths and weaknesses.

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  4. Do you want to succeed in college?

    Sorry, doing this on my phone.

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    1. You got it exactly right about the "No, I am not asking for an explanation" part. I've known this type of student. They think of themselves as equal to the professor, not in the same category as their fellow students. So of course they see it as essential to explain themselves, so you can see their wisdom and then adjust your classroom to their obviously correct view of what should be.

      Not all home-schooled students are like this, nor were all students like this home-schooled. But it's easy to suspect that their behaviors were acquired in a classroom of one or two students with a teacher that didn't have the more customary professional distance.

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  5. Yes, and sometimes the students like this are college graduates who are returning in order to get into a different career. The older male retirees also tend to see themselves as your partner (and even as your teacher).

    There's one in an art class I'm taking right now. When I ask a question, right after the young instructor answers, this older guy then turns to me and repeats the answer. It reminds me of the Sigourney Weaver character in "Galaxy Quest".

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    1. Indeed. I'm not sure that this behavior is so much the product of home schooling as the product of a particular temperament (on occasion sliding into/overlapping with something that looks like the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum) that leads some parents to home-school when the public schools don't appreciate their misunderstood genius.

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  6. I don't mind the flashbacks at all. Whenever reading them, though, I wonder what subsequently happened. It's been eight years since this was posted?

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  7. If this site is dying, it is a truly operatic swan song.

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    1. Indeed. Complete with the "corpse" popping up for multiple additional verses, encores, etc., etc. In fact, it seems to be about as hard to shut up as the student described in the post.

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    2. To blatantly steal from Pratchett: Esprit de corpse?

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