Except for Eye Rolling Emile.
Emile caught my eye early in the first week as I talked a bit about the rigor of the course. Eye roll. Later I asked folks to tell me a bit about themselves as I called the roster the first time. Eye roll.
It's just one student in one class, but now when 10 am comes around I don't even want to go. He sits in my line of vision at the back of the class. Whenever I suggest anything I might think is a cool or interactive way to discuss the material, eye roll. It's only been a couple of days, but he's harshed one's mellow, to use the old vernacular.
Q: When you have a student with a bothersome tic or behavior, what do you do?
Yes, I hate that. I don't want to be bugged by it, but I always am. My impulse is to say, "You want to roll your eyes, do it somewhere else."ReplyDelete
I tend to ignore it for a bit, at least until the BIG SIGH follows it. I've - in younger days - asked the student to stick around after class. "You seem bored by class. Is it not challenging enough? Could I give you harder assignments to keep your energy up?"
But now I sit somewhere else so I don't have to see his/her face. It's not a good answer, I know.
It's probably the most practical solution, though.Delete
I had my share of students who had all sorts of weird habits and behaviours. If they didn't bother anybody else with it, I usually didn't do anything unless I personally found it distracting. I think that by doing that, I was spared numerous meetings with the department head.
I once had a strange kid in a service course I once taught. No matter what I did, he persisted in his eccentric behaviour. I mentioned it to his department head who, as it turned out, wasn't interested in doing anything himself. So, I decided that if the boss didn't care, neither would I. I simply counted the days until the course was over and rejoiced when it was.
(TWITCH! TWITCH!) Whatever do you mean? (TWITCH! TWITCH!) I just reach for my trusty STAPLE GUN, and let it RIP, stapling and hence immobilizing the offending body part to whatever's handy.ReplyDelete
Seriously, now: like Hiram, I do my best to ignore it. When I got a student who challenged me on absolutely EVERYTHING, even how Earth is round and we can't see through it, I will confess I was pushed beyond human endurance, and exploded at him, "Will you GET A GIRLFRIEND or ANYTHING to take the inappropriately aggressive edge off your personality?!?" Amazingly, it worked: he stopped being annoying for the rest of the term, and didn't go crying to the Dean.
That sounds like a few of my students and I had a similar reaction. Usually those students didn't say peep for quite a while. I guess they didn't expect me to do that and, worse, I stood up to them in front of their classmates (many of whom took delight in what I did) and which stung even more.Delete
Amelia sends this along:ReplyDelete
I have found writing fables about them to be surprisingly therapeutic.
I. Can't. Even.ReplyDelete
Body language is part of class participation. I would tell the little bugger that every eye roll is costing him X number of points off his grade.ReplyDelete
But you can't spend your time watching him to see how many times he rolls his eyes.Delete
I'm ever so slightly sympathetic to the student. My professors told me that when I was a student sitting in class, my facial expression seemed to convey to them that I was trying to make their head explode by staring at it. This was a total surprise to me.ReplyDelete
Hmm.. I suppose you could call them out every time they do it. Probably would backfire, though.
Hmm. Instead of calling him on it, just call on him a lot? That might be disconcerting enough to distract him. Sorry Rosemary! That would really harsh one's mellow.ReplyDelete
Might the student have a mild case of Tourette's? One time (at band camp), I was talking to a fellow at a conference, and I judged by his eye-rolls that he thought I or my topics of conversation were boring, so I finished most of my sentences with ellipses and/or incoherent muttering. It turned out, though, that he was just ticcing.ReplyDelete
My reaction is somewhat along the same lines as Three Sigma's: as someone whose face apparently doesn't always communicate very well to others what I'm actually thinking (some variation on the resting bitch face phenomenon, I suspect), my first thought is not to take it too personally.ReplyDelete
Another possibility (also drawn from personal experience, as someone who tends to be distracted by my own internal mental weather): his reactions may have nothing to do with what you're saying, and everything to do with what he's thinking, which may, again, have nothing to do with what's going on in class, or at least not formal class activities (start with the fact that he's an adolescent/barely post-adolescent male. 'Nuff said.) I suppose timing might offer a clue (does he sometimes roll his eyes when there's no apparent reason for him to do so?), but I'm not sure it's worth spending the time trying to figure that out, and, in any case, human beings (probably for good evolutionary reasons) tend to be biased toward seeing others' actions as reactions to themselves, whether or not they are. And teachers, who are very focused on trying to evoke reactions, are probably even more biased (for even better reasons) in that direction.
I guess, like Hiram and Frod, I'm coming down in the "ignore it" (at least until and unless it starts distracting other students) camp. But I'm a teacher who probably doesn't notice/care enough how my students are reacting to what I'm doing (see tendency to focus on internal weather, above), so my advice/perspective should probably be taken with a grain of salt.
P.S. Dr. M's suggestion (which came in while I was typing) also came to mind. I think cerebral palsy might also manifest in this way; at least I've had students with cerebral palsy who didn't have very good control of where their eyes were going, including rolling motions, though that symptom was usually combined with much more obvious physical movements (or lack of movement); I don't know whether it can exist on its own. But since people with cp don't necessarily need accommodations of the sort you would help arrange, you wouldn't necessarily receive a form.Delete
I also like Kate's suggestion: getting him engaged in the conversation is probably one of the best ways to gauge whether there's an actual attitude issue behind the physical actions that seem to suggest one. Of course, the latest briefing from our disability services folks suggested that *not* calling on students (i.e. allowing them to volunteer) is a good "universal accessibility" (or something like that) practice, since it decreases the strain on those with anxiety, among other disorders. This advice comes just as I was seriously considering instituting the practice of calling on students, since students these days seem increasingly unwilling to participate of their own volition. I'm sympathetic to the anxiety issue, but maybe one of the ways to overcome the anxiety is to practice participating in what is, after all, a pretty low-stakes environment?
Nip this in the bud, Rosemary. If not for your own mental health, do it for your engaged students, who deserve your enthusiasm and energy.ReplyDelete
I call them on behavior like this ASAP. Repeated eye-rolling is in my syllabus along with other disruptive or discourteous behaviors that may cost the Little Dears the privilege of extra credit. (Under my state's educational code, student grades can't be based on behavior, but our campus has said that a small amount of extra credit can be awardedor not at proffie discretion.)
Sometimes I first talk to the student privately after class. If there's a Reason, the student tells me then. BTW, there are no "reasonable accommodations" that permit students with behavioral disabilities to disrupt a class.
When there's no question of the student's hostility, I present him* after class with a written warning on the student misconduct form citing "disruptive classroom behavior" and "communication of disrespect towards College employee." I keep these in the classroom, partially filled out for emergency use.
"Next time you choose to do xyz," I say, "you'll be dismissed from that class meeting and the next one. I'll send this to the dean, and you'll lose the chance to earn extra credit. Understand?"
I haven't had to follow through. They either say they didn't know it was that big of a deal, but now they know, and they guess they'll stop, and they're sorry "if" it bothered me, or they don't show up again. Either response works for me.
* Only twice in 20 years has it been a she.
Whenever I had matters like that to deal with, my department administrators always found a way to make it my fault. For some reason, they honestly believed that the kiddies were pure and innocent and incapable of mischief of any kind, so, if they misbehaved, I obviously provoked them.Delete
I think I found out the real reason for their stance. I once shared an office with a retired head of a different department. He came back to the institution under contract and taught a course or two to supplement his pension.
He told me one day that, no matter what, he didn't want any hassles whatsoever. I'm sure he would have done anything to achieve that, even if it meant letting a student do whatever he or she felt like or throwing an instructor under a bus.