Friday, July 13, 2012


I'm teaching two summer classes. One is a majors-oriented class for upper-level students. My class this summer is small but mostly diligent, they ask interesting questions, they work hard.

I'm also teaching the non-majors class again (after a year off to teach the intro majors class, which I have to say I enjoyed teaching and hope I get to do again). These guys are mostly incoming freshmen. VERY incoming freshmen, as in, this summer is their first semester on a college campus.

They're very immature but it's kind of a fun immaturity. They're not jaded yet and most of them still have enough fear of the professor (me) that they treat me with a certain level of respect - they may joke around and harass each other before class, but when I start talking, they (mostly) shut up and pay attention.

Lab gets kind of crazy. And you know, I like teaching labs because that's where you see more of a person's personality, I think: if they're a whiner it tends to come out more in lab, if they're chronically clumsy, you see that. And even with having all these students together in lab for four hours every week, I still pretty much like them. Like I said, they're immature and a few of them do whine a bit - but it's almost a good-natured whining, like "I know it's expected that I complain about the workload but you know I don't really mind it." Or at least they seem to understand why they have to do the stuff they're expected to do.

Also, after having the awful, super-sense-of-entitlement student I had this spring - the guy who would buttonhole me after lecture EVERY DAY and tell me about his pathetic life and how much it sucked to be him, while I was calmly saying "I have another class I need to go and teach, I cannot discuss now, come to my office hours" (and he bitched me out - or at least, I assume it's him - on my evaluations for "not being available." Yeah, not being available when you want me to be). So I'm kind of inoculated against the sort of garden-variety shenanigans that these students pull.

Anyway. I guess my TA is not. I have a lab TA and she's excellent but she's not as patient as I am. (Well, she's also probably 20 years younger; I think age can teach you a lot of patience). One of the students - actually, one of the more vocal guys, who I kind of like because though he complains about stuff he's at least funny about it, and he's polite and respectful to me - seems to get under her skin. (Like I said: I think my age and prior experience has inoculated me against being bugged by his goofiness, it seems very mild by comparison to some things I've dealt with).

Anyway, the lab yesterday included measuring blood pressures before and after exercise. The idea is, you get a baseline pre-exercise (though the bps are not taken in ideal conditions- it's not quiet enough and no one follows the "put your feet flat on the floor and lay your arm on the table" directions). Then the student has to go and run for 2 minutes. Normally, we make them run in place in the lab, but in the summer - we're the only class in the building at that time so I told the students it was OK to run in the halls, or to run out the back door of the room, run around the building, and come back in the front.

So the guy was picked by his group to be the "exercise subject" (well: one of the other people in the group had a walking cast on her foot, and the guy in question plays intramural soccer). He griped about it, good naturedly of course, and got ready to run out the back door. As he was heading out, my TA yelled out,


It was totally unexpected and everyone else in the class burst out laughing. (I couldn't help it; I laughed too).

The good thing is the student wasn't at all insulted by it. You do have to be a little careful what you say to people in class and sometimes a joke or an innocent comment can really blow up, but this guy is jovial enough that it didn't bug him. (I think the fact that the class is a pretty cohesive group - they really all pretty much like each other - helped. I've had classes that were split into factions or where there were two people who REALLY disliked each other, and keeping the drama/insults to a minimum can be a challenge).

1 comment:

Kate P said...

That is too funny. You seem to have a pretty good group--and smart, to boot. Fantastic.