Thursday, January 31, 2013

Only Three Weeks Into the Semester And . . .

I lost my cool in my English 101 class. I try really hard to never let this happen, but . . ..

I could tell my ire was rising when a student who missed class on Tuesday came in and said, "I wasn't here on Tuesday. What did I miss? And I don't know what you mean by annotated bibliography." In my head, my answer was, "Ummmmm, you missed the explanation for the two assignments that are due next week, one of which is the annotated bib. I spent an hour and fifteen minutes going over both assignments on Tuesday, making sure those who were in class understood what is being asked with the assignments. That's what you missed." Out of my mouth came, "I went over the two assigments. What exactly about the annotated bib don't you understand?" And for the next ten minutes, I stood by this student, explaining again what I explained on Tuesday.

A few minutes later, another student asked for help. "I'm confused. I went to Google and typed in "citation" because you didn't explain what a citation is and now, after looking at what I have here, I'm totally confused." In my head, my response was, "I did explain what a citation is. During the last class, I walked the entire class through the program that generates citations, showing how to plug in the author's name, the title of the article, etc, because this information is what is needed for a citation. After doing this, I said, 'This is the citation. This answers number 1 on the handout.'" Out of my mouth came, "A citation is made up of all the information about the source: author, title, publisher, date, etc." Silence. The student then reiterates extreme confusion because the handout I provided listed the citation as being a required component for each annotation on the annotated bib. Not listening to the little voice inside my head telling me to remain calm, I said with a bit of flippancy, "Because a citation is part of an annotation on an annotated bib." I suggested the student visit a popular online writing lab to examine the examples of an annotated bib to see that the citation is the first component of an annotation. The response? A very deep exhale and, "I don't need to go there to see what an annotation looks like." In my head, I said, "Ooookayyyyy. Obviously you know more than I do, so you're on your own now, pal." Out of my mouth came, "Hmmmm, well, okay." After a bit more conversation, the student seemed to have a better idea for what was needed for the annotated bib.

Then, right at the end of class, a student asked about the due date for a journal entry. I said, "It was due on Tuesday." The student responded with, "You didn't tell us that." All calm was gone. All notion of staying reasonable had been used up. In a voice I normally use with my own kids when they've gone beyond what is deemed acceptable behavior, I informed this student that I most certainly did tell the class; they actually had it in writing on the course calendar, and unless I stand in front of the class and say, "Don't do this assignment,' it is their responsibility to make sure it is done by the due date and turned in. "In high school the teachers always reminded us. We didn't have to keep track," the student said. "Welcome to college," I responded.

I'm wondering if it's time for a sabbatical. I'm finding myself becoming less and less patient with students, and most of my impatience comes from these three things: 1) poor attendance which results in missing a lot of information provided in class. Upon returning to class, the student expects me to go over everything missed; 2) inattention while in class because the student is caught up in texting, Facebooking, or the belief he/she doesn't need to listen to the explanation of an assignment. When the "I have no clue as to what's being asked" hits because of not paying attention, the student wants me to go over it all again; and 3) the unwillingness to figure things out; students want to be spoonfed and they want everything to be "easy."

Thankfully classes are finished for the week, and I have my copy of Bicycling beyond the Divide to take me away from this nonsense. Hopefully, during the next few days I can find some down time to relax and recharge my patience battery.

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