Saturday, May 05, 2012

Having a hard time letting go

I had a horrible student in my class this semester.

Now, granted, I occasionally have students who are "horrible" in the sense of being irresponsible or earning bad grades. But this person took the cake. He would not follow directions given and then claim I never gave those directions. Or he would claim I never said something - like announcing a due-date or an exam - that I know I had said. I couldn't tell if he just had very selective hearing or if he was doing it specifically to throw me off base, make me think I was crazy, and make me give in to his demands.

He also complained, apparently to several people, that I was "unavailable." Which actually means that he showed up to my office outside of my office hours and I was busy working on something else, or he showed up when I was in class, or he showed up late in the day after I'd already gone. As TPTB on my campus are ALL ABOUT "availability," I am afraid this is going to bite me hard, and even though I know and my chair knows this guy's tricks, he seems good at buffaloing people who don't actually have to work with him.

He's already wangled a week's extension on a project. And even though I was pretty clear I said a week, I'm fearful he will have "heard" that it was two weeks - pushing the date back to the due date for grades, which is also my "Screw you guys, I'm goin' home" day (I am going to visit family for a couple of weeks).

I actually called my campus voicemail at 8pm last night - after spending an afternoon running errands I had put off - because I just had this *feeling* that there would be a "What the Hell? It's 4 pm on the last day of classes WHY ARE YOU NOT IN YOUR OFFICE WAITING FOR ME TO COME IN" message.

Of course there wasn't, but this is the point to which the student's problems have become my problems.

People should NOT be allowed to treat other people this way, to the point where the other people become fearful. I took to closing my office door when my office hours were over....of course people knocked and I opened the door, but I was hoping maybe he'd be deterred by "oh, maybe she's not here."

(I was fantasizing about how much trouble I'd get in for drilling a hole in my door and installing a peephole.)

This person made me begin to wonder if I was crazy. Or if I was an awful person and a terrible teacher. I DON'T LIKE FEELING THAT WAY. The thing is, it's really hard for me to shake.

Every colleague of mine who has had this student in their class has commiserated with me - has said, "You're NOT crazy. This person makes other people freak out." But I'm having a hard time letting it go. I'm jumpy and unhappy and I can't enjoy working on the other stuff I am working on.

One of my colleagues, who apparently has NOT had this student, was all, "You need to suck it up and tell him to go take a flying leap." O RLY? And will you then field the call from his pet administrator when he goes to her all upset?

I feel now like I understand a bit better what someone in certain types of abusive relationships goes through - the self-doubt, the wondering if YOU are the problem rather than the other person, the occasional other who says, "Oh, it CAN'T be that big of a problem, just suck it up."

I woke up in the middle of the night with the WORST nightmare I've had in maybe a year. (Unrelated to the issue - essentially, the Sun was expanding, it was getting unbearably hotter, and we all knew we were going to die in a few days AND THERE WAS NOTHING THAT COULD BE DONE. I realize there's an old Twilight Zone episode about a similar topic, but it's been a very long time since I saw it). I am sure the nightmare was related to the stress I've been under. I had to get up and stare at The Weather Channel for a while before I felt like I could go back to sleep again.

The thing I'm afraid of - if I go to anyone else on campus, HR, the campus counselor, anyone, I'll be told to suck it up and be an adult. But if I wind up with this guy in my class again, I WILL need to be seeing a counselor or therapist to be able to cope. (Or maybe, after they hear the situation....they'll tell HR, "No, she cannot have this person in her class again. Sorry.")

I really feel awful. I feel worse - more worn out, more burned out - than I've ever felt at the end of a semester. Normally, the day after the semester ends (before exam week) I'm all happy and excited and feel like I've successfully put another semester to bed. I don't feel that way this year. I don't even have the energy for my traditional jaunt to Boutiqueville. I just want to hide in my house and not talk to people for a long, long time.

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