What I Hated the Least Today 105/365: Big Daddy

31 comments

105

My students are creatures extremely inventive and, as often as not, extremely annoying. When these qualities combine, less resilient teachers go mad and teachers who won’t be messed up with, like me, switch into a defence mode which borders on offence mode. Let it be stated for the record that as long as a group of people doesn’t behave like people, I don’t feel obliged to treat them as people.

A curious situation occurred in the last class when I, as per usual, asked my class to put up their name tags. While one would expect them to be adjusted to this routine, they usually either forget what a name tag is (their English is somewhat limited, for students of English), or forget their name tag and spend five to ten minutes crafting a new one or come up with something which they probably deem funny. Such as the student who put in front of himself a piece of paper reading B.I.G. DADDY.

I wasn’t as much thrown off balance by the sheer cheekiness of his action as rather curious to find out what the hell the guy meant by it. I’ve been marked by my years spent at the philosophical faculty too much to settle for the explanation that things don’t mean anything. As I was trying to crack the puzzle, I had a brief conversation with the offender in the same tone in which he initiated it. That is, not precisely a model troubleshooting teaching method.

I shared my opinion with the perpetrator and the class that his parents must have hated him fiercely if they named him this and concluded that I would hereafter take the liberty of calling him You, you know whom I mean (YYKWIM), which shall have the beneficial effect of teaching the class the usage of whom. YYKWIM went red in his face but otherwise remained nonplussed. He probably likes to embarrass himself in public.

The remainder of the class proceeded in the same mood, as it happens to be my most difficult group, consisting of thirty or so worst individuals thrown together to amplify the effect. I did my best to move around to intimidate the most disruptive students with my physical proximity (that didn’t work out too well, probably given my sweet-looking appearance – ha!) and aim my questions at those who were the loudest at the given moment. I didn’t shy away from sarcasm and outright humiliation.

Teacher: Exercise one, page one twenty three, read the example please, Student A.

Student A: (no response)

Teacher: Hey, Student A!

Student A: Wut?

Teacher: (repeats request)

Student A: (no response)

Teacher: Will someone please poke Student A to wake her up?

Student B: (stops playing Candy Crush and makes to poke Student A on Facebook)

 

Teacher: Next sentence, please, Student C.

Student C: Where are we?

Teacher: That’s for you to know.

Student C: (nothing)

 

Teacher: Now, that’s a tricky sentence, so will you translate it into Czech, please, Student D?

Student D: (remains quiet)

Teacher: Well? Working on it?

Student D: Dunno.

Teacher: Will someone help your colleague out, preferably someone who speaks English?

 

I enjoyed my class more than I probably should. The students seemed to have less fun than me, but it clearly didn’t occur to them to reconsider their attitude. While I felt accomplished in my demolition of the class, I was somewhat disconcerted by one student’s question at the end as to when their regular teacher is coming back. I wonder if the student asked because their regular teacher manages them better. But then, she probably wouldn’t have ended up going insane.

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31 comments on “What I Hated the Least Today 105/365: Big Daddy”

  1. This is funny as all hell, but intriguing at the same time; “WHY are they there?!” Why did they apply for this programme?! I get the picture totally, and this is like grade niners in Sweden — not university students. Totally bored. They probably sense they cannot behave the same way with you, as they did with the previous teacher.

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    1. The WHY question is puzzling. I imagine they might grow up and turn into reasonable people, but not yet. It surely has to do with group dynamics – when a few students are disruptive, the rest of the class just accommodates and does the same. On one hand, I’m terrified by this class, on the other hand, the teacher of course mustn’t let on. So I try to brace myself for this class and shoot before the class has the time to think and shoot first.

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        1. A class like that should be probably chastised in a cruel and unusual manner. But I’m not going to jail because of them, so I hope I’ll keep my sanity intact and won’t strangle anyone in class, though such desires occasionally occur.

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          1. The times when I feel my inner violent capabilities surface, that’s when I see or hear about cruelty to animals. It’s as if I’m losing it, totally.

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          2. Agreed. Violence on animals is something I don’t get at all. I can perhaps see why someone would want to hurt another person – maybe the other person had it coming – but what on earth can move someone to hurt a creature like a dog (or, all gods forbid, cat). That’s so depressing.

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    1. Haha, I’m afraid that whether I want it or not, I’ll have to continue in the same aggressive mode for the rest of the term. I can’t help laughing when I visualise myself with an actual whip in class 😀

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Hm, I don’t think a bell would penetrate the noise raised by my least favourite group 😮 Today they were quite ok though. I issued some severe warnings about having a serious chat with the most disruptive individuals after class and the final credit test – it seemed to work!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. On of my kids came home one day with a new boyfriend and introduced him as AJ…..we were immediately sympathetic to the notion that his parents couldn’t afford him a normal name and so gave him initials only……I have to say I have not worked in a school where name tags were used, it was a lot of the time ‘You there”, “Boy with hair” “girl with big hair” personal things like that and we got by…..

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    1. Ha 😀 That’s a good one, poor boy whose parents couldn’t afford a fully fledged name!

      I don’t think there’s a universal name tag policy but I always use name tags to avoid the awkwardness of trying to find a distinctive identifying feature for each student. In the best case scenario, I should probably be able to remember their names, but these kids don’t deserve that anyway. Not to mention that there’s several dozen of them and I only will teach them a few times.

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      1. Yes only seeing them every so often does make it hard. I used to be a Year Advisor and I would try and learn every kids name, all 180, by the end of term one but there was always some kid no matter how hard I tried I could never remember his/her name…..

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          1. It was a lot of fun I have to say…..and an aspect of the job I really liked….and I am sure I gave lots of bad/poor advice among the good I handed out…I hope….

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          2. I’m sure you did just fine 🙂 I wouldn’t, which I’m also sure of, because I’ve found that I have an alarmingly depressing worldview, which doesn’t sit well with most people. It definitely wouldn’t be a good fit for an advisor to young people. I’d probably just tell them, Why even try when we’re all going to die.

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          3. Well an accurate worldview in one day. No one has disproved that notion have they. Then again you are living proof of not really believing it yourself…

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          4. Yes, you saw me through. I don’t entirely and without reservation believe that there is no point in trying since we all are going die, but I’m an existentialist enough. Today I was in an experimental mood, so I communicated my worldview to my students, in between discussing grammar, and they found it strangely amusing.

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          5. being older and ‘wiser’ your students will always be amuzed by your world view, I found that when I taught too, I often wondered if they were actually thinking “how could this man be so misguided.” But they were too polite to say so.

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  3. It sounds to me like you have superb teaching skills and are doing your level best to hone these recalcitrant creatures into at least learning a modicum of teacher responsiveness. Go you !

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    1. Well, thank you, really! I imagine I’m an average teacher and I do admit that it’s demotivating to face a class like this. It doesn’t exactly inspire me to help them through their exams or do anything extra to support them. I think they’ll grow out of this stage though. They’re aged 20 on average, so there is still hope!

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        1. Yes. That’s what I’ve been saying to myself all my life. And then it turned out that part of my duties as a PhD student was to teach classes. So I just did that. I almost came to enjoy it after all. Taking revenge on my students for the suffering my teachers caused me.

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