Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You looked angry at me

I had office hours this afternoon on a warm, sunny day. I didn't really expect to see any students, but one showed up just as I opened the door. He was so angry he was trembling.

Okaaaay, what's up Joe? He wanted to discuss my non-professional attitude.

Come again? Yes, when I was discussing the exam (which he aced) with the group last week, I didn't call on him FIVE times, although he knew the right answer !!!!1!!1!! And I made a flippant remark that hurt his feelings. He is a handicapped student and as long as he takes his meds he's fine, but some remark I made could be construed as having made fun of students who have to take medicine on a regular basis.

I racked my brain to come up with what remark I might have made. I couldn't, so I asked him what it was that I had said. Well, it wasn't exactly a remark, he supposed, but my face looked angry and annoyed when I was looking in his direction.

I managed to keep the expletives bubbling up in my mind under control as I thanked him for bringing this to my attention and assured him that I was not angry at him, personally. He replied that he thought this was because he had disagreed with me on one of the exercises submitted through Moodle. Hello? There are so may people in this course, I don't usually remember people's names. Although I'm sure that I will now remember you, Joe.

I thanked him for coming in person (he came to campus just to tell me this) and not posting a nasty comment on The Site That Shall Not Be Named and managed to get him out the door.

Here I thought I was teaching in college and not in kindergarten, silly me.

Suzy from Square State


  1. Oh, the imagined slights from students who aren't quite adept at social interaction are always both frustrating and heart breaking. Did you alert his advisor of this meeting, or someone who may want to make sure he is, in fact, taking his meds?

  2. Sometimes they are so sensitive.

    We get all kinds, every day!

  3. I so love the students who claim, "you pick on me!", which usually means I called on them. Yes, it's what I do in a hopeful attempt at actually getting the class to discuss material, or to encourage them to have done the reading.

  4. A student caught me in the hallway with a question about one of my items on the previous test. As he explained his issue, I laughed at the irony of my having rewritten the item to make it easier, when apparently I'd just made it more confusing. In my evaluation, a student lambasted me for laughing at him and making him feel stupid when he was asking about the test.

  5. During my last 2 years of teaching, I apparently had some extremely sensitive students.

    According to my department head, the worst thing I did was having them address me as "Doctor Vertical" after I got my Ph. D. The reason was that it "intimidated" them to the point that they didn't want to ask me questions and, thereby, not learn anything. (Never mind the fact that they didn't ask me questions or learn much before I received my degree.) Even allowing them to call me "Mister Vertical" (instead of by my first name) was considered unacceptable because it meant I wasn't trying to be palsy-walsy with the students.

    I didn't take any of that seriously, of course. Nobody dropped my courses because I insisted they call me either "Doctor" or "Sir" and it didn't cause any students disappear in a puff of smoke. My department, who insisted on being a right royal PITA, simply wanted to make my life miserable.

  6. Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but this guy would worry/scare me a bit. I don't like the anger (including the projection of his anger on you), or the focus on you. Like Cynic, I'd be inclined to report this conversation to whoever keeps track of potentially-troubled and/or troubling students. The key difference between college students of this sort and kindergartners is that the college students are bigger, have access to more dangerous objects, and therefore can throw far more alarming tantrums.