Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A figurative and literal beat down

So Monday was the absolute worst day ever as far as my teaching career is concerned. My class started off normally until one if my students walked in looking like she'd been through a tornado.(This was also the student I mentioned in an earlier that once reminded me that she had a degree in Chemistry. ) At any rate, she and I had formed a kind of special bond because she is married, was going back to school as a non traditional student, and had a family.

Well, it turns out she had just been abused by her husband and had also lost a pregnancy 1 week earlier, so it took everything I had to keep from crying as she was telling me her story. We worked out a way for her to finish the semester, then I excused her for the rest of the week.

Now just when I'd gotten my head around her situation, one of the students in the "trifflin' crew" decided to pick THIS day to show his scrawny ass, and yeah I meant to say scrawny ass!!! He interrupted me for half the class as I was trying to teach, playing music, talking loud, ect, so I finally raised my voice and asked him to keep it down or leave the room. What happened next is a first in an off and on again teaching career going back almost 20 years. In front of the entire class, this mofo proceeded to THOROUGHLY berate me saying some pretty awful things. Now what I should have done was just asked him to leave which I did, but not before saying a couple things like "the reason you're taking this class for the second time and are failing again, is because you're lazy and your attitude sucks. And no, it's NOT my fault YOU'RE failing." Now I'm not saying that I handled this situation perfectly, but I certainly don't regret what I did say. Teaching these days is NOT like it used to be, MANY students have entitlement issues, want good grades without working for them, and have nothing that resembles common courtesy or manners. And NONE of those things rubs me the right way. I'm also keenly aware of why most college profs don't give a flying flip about their students because it's the ones like this scrawny jack-ass that ruins things for the rest of the group, profs become cynical, and it comes out in their teaching or lack there-of.

But what's ironic in a hurtful kinda way, is the fact that I purposely choose to teach at this low/unranked school for the specific purpose of motivating students who didn't have the credentials to get admitted to the many higher ranked schools in Metro DC. And despite the fact that quite a few of my colleagues have expressed nothing but disdain for these students, I maintained my commitment to excellence in teaching them and doing my best to help. But after hearing some of what scrawny ass had to say (and of course, assuming it's true), I don't know if I'm not wasting my time being there. And the fact that overall, my best evals have come from my students at the better schools in the area, has me rethinking my purpose there. Now in fairness, I have far more students at this school and overall all my evals were good, but still. Is there something to be said for students at lower ranked schools being lazier (and few clearly more ignorant) than the student at say, UM-College Park? Yes, according to one of my colleagues, but I'd like to think that there's more to it than that. Or maybe, I'm being naive? What I do know is that I never once had an outburst in my class when I taught in the 'hood, so I guess at the end of the day, it comes down to home training and folks feeling entitled to do whatever they want because of who they are.

Moving on, I'm now onto to the second phase of being considered for a position at the NIH and yes, I'm excited!!! Unfortunately with this position, it'll be hard to work at this level while working on my PhD in Informatics. But I'd give it a chance anyway since there will be significant overlap between this position and my coursework and the pay is tremendous. Of course, that would bring an end to my teaching career but after the day I had on Monday, I don't think I'd mind! Yes, I LOVE teaching and mentoring students who don't have role models, but it's the ones like scrawny that mess it all up for everyone else. Not to mention the number of students exactly like him who have been in the news over the past couple years after "losing it" with a teacher of professor, situations that didn't always end well for the Prof. So right now, it's not really feeling worth the hassle especially given the pay, but we'll see what happens moving forward.

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