I had this student last semester in a class that was based largely on attendance and participation in discussion. She frequently missed class or came in late, and when she was present, she sat silently without participating. Towards the middle-end of the semester, she stopped me after class, and told me she was worried about her grade.
Haha! I was, too. But I spoke to her in a kindly manner and explained to her that she was indeed in a difficult position. She began to cry. Ah-LOT. She said she felt that I didn't like her very much, and that she bet that I thought she wasn't a very good student, but that she WAS a very good student.
I was a bit stymied. I actually felt badly. I told her that of course I didn't dislike her, and that I had no idea what kind of a student she was outside of this class. I pointed out, very gently, that the only information I had to work with was the fact the she missed class, was late, and never spoke and all. But, you know, that might indicate good student-ness in a Bizarro Universe. I told her that if she didn't miss any class for the rest of the semester and increased her participation, she could raise her grade. She came to class a little more. She didn't participate much more. She got a "C." End of story.
Or... not. She's in my class again this semester (yay!). She missed the first class entirely. She showed up late to the second class. By then, I'd assigned some reading. She came to my office hours and the cry-cries began anew. This time, it was "I have a lot of trouble getting motivated to read all this. It's really hard. I might take the semester off" (oh please oh please oh please). This class had a huge waitlist, and she told me that she'd let me know her decision by next class.
"Next class" happened. She didn't come. The kids met in groups to discuss the readings they had done. They turned in their papers. I added all the students I planned to add, figuring Crybaby Sally was out like trout. But no! She was waiting for me at my office after class. "Can I turn in my papers tomorrow?" she asks. Now I'm really honestly getting irked at her.
"Why on Earth would I want to let you do that?" I ask. "Why didn't you come to class again today?"
"I told you yesterday!" As if it were obvious and I were a moron. "Because it's hard for me to do all that reading!"
I told her that I figured she had dropped, since she hadn't attended after our last talk. And this is where it gets good: she sobbed at me that she had always known I didn't like her and that she's really intimidated by me, I'm really, really scary, and she was terrified to come to class without her papers because she knew I'd embarrass her in front of the class. My head nearly exploded (not from anger, actually, from total shock).
1) Hate her? I don't ever think about her existence, in fact. Like Jordan said to JD on Scrubs, "Oh, Crybaby Sally. I don't hate you. I nothing you!" Where is this "I don't like her" crap coming from? Oh, yeah, I'm a psychologist. I'm supposed to know this stuff.
2) Wait, seriously? She's intimidated by ME??!?! Hahahahahaha, that's awesome. I'm 5-foot nada, I'm less than a decade older than her, and I'm a total goofball. All my examples come from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and Japanese anime and video games. It kinda made me feel weird/good that Crazytown here was actually scared of me. Weird, because I think of myself as a total dork and my students generally have problems seeing me as an authority figure, if anything. Good because, well, yeah! Be afraid! Be very afraid.
3) She thought I'd embarrass her in front of the class? It's her stupid education. I wouldn't've said a thing. I never do, when students don't bring their papers. They just don't get any points for discussion. But I never point it out to anyone. Maybe I should get a spotlight and a megaphone so I can live up to my tyrannical reputation.
If you love me at all, you're all hoping that she couldn't handle the strain and dropped the course. But no. She stayed. She'll stay forever. To torture me. And cry about it.
Maybe I'll wear my Darth Vader mask to school tomorrow. Scary. Because I have one.