So, remember that talking-to I had to give my first year students last month? It worked for a while — people were pretty quiet, paid better attention, and were seemingly engaged. We had a great couple of discussions. So that was pretty heartening.
Then, a few days later, I had to pull aside two of the three worst troublemakers after class for talking to each other and horsing around in class instead of paying attention. I was pretty annoyed. But the situation was pretty funny. Here I am, all 5’6 of me, wagging my finger up at these two huge linebackers telling them they had to stop talking to each other in class because it was rude and disruptive. They looked sheepish and said they would stop. Then they stopped coming to class for a couple of sessions. Well, I guess that’s one way to make sure you don’t talk in class.
The third troublemaker was able to hold it together for a little longer. Then last Friday, while I was lecturing, he started making kissy faces to another guy across the room. I was totally distracted. So, I stopped the lecture, and asked if they needed to get a room. Or if they just needed to go outside to talk to each other. The receiver of the kissy faces had the grace to look abashed. But the kissy face maker pulled this “I’m hurt and offended that you would think I was misbehaving” face. He was all like, “Who? Me?” Yeah, you, punk. I told him to cut it out. Then, as I resumed the lecture, another student joshed the kissy-face maker, saying, “Dude, are you gay?” Sigh. So, I successfully quelled the horseplay by opening the door to homophobia. No exactly what I had intended.
Then, yesterday, Linebacker Troublemaker # 1 asked me after class if I could grade his paper before Friday, since he has until then to drop the class if his grade didn’t improve. I told him I’d be glad to. Linebacker Troublemaker #2 was not in class. He stopped by my office hours with the paper to sign to drop the class.
So, with 1 less troublemaker in the class, perhaps things will go a little more smoothly. I’m not exactly happy that the solution to this situation has been that the students who are disruptive (and failing, I might add) have left, instead of working to improve their work and their behavior. But, maybe it is best all around. Now, if only troublemaker #3 will get it together…
A professor can dream, can’t she?
(NOTE — just so you know it isn’t all troublemaking and kissy faces here in Stewgad’s world, I’ve had three students in the last week tell me that they had hated history classes, if not all of their previous college courses, before my class. And that they were really enjoying the course — could they take my classes next semester? Which, of course, was really nice to hear.)
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