Waiting for the student to pop… November 3, 2016Posted by mareserinitatis in education, teaching.
Tags: liberal arts, students, teaching, universities
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I really enjoy teaching, but there are some aspects of it that frustrate me. In particular, during my previous teaching stints, I often had a student who would be exceptionally rude or bothersome. In one case, I had a student who sat there yelling at me, and I was thankful other people were present in my office at the time because I was worried he was going to get threatening and/or violent. It happened when I was a TA and it happened when I was an instructor. As an undergraduate TA in college physics labs, I remember one student who showed up to a make-up lab drunk. It was not the first time I’d had incidents like this, so the chair of the department asked once why I always ended up with the crazy students. After the episode with the yelling student, I realized that this student didn’t treat male professors or TAs the same way. I am fairly convinced that a lot of the behaviors I see is based on the fact that I’m a female instructor and students feel free to take liberties with me that they never would with male instructors. (And before you object, there’s a lot of research on this…)
I realized today that I’ve been holding my breathe, waiting to see who this semester’s one student will be.
It’s no one. Not a single one. All of my students are generally respectful and polite. They don’t get on my nerves. They’re nice kids.
Admittedly, this is also my first time teaching at a liberal arts college rather than a public university. Second, I’m only teaching engineering students currently. (It may be different teaching a general education class, but I won’t know until next semester.) It’s also a smaller group than I’ve taught before, so I may have numbers on my side. What I’m noticing, though, is that I don’t seem to have students in the ‘extremes.’ I have really good students, but none so worked up that they’re freaking out if they’re not getting an A+ or arguing about every point they lose on each assignment. Likewise, even the kids who are struggling in my class are still showing up and putting in a decent effort. As I mentioned before, one of my biggest issues is how some (but not most of them) address me. There have been a couple other bumps in the road, but none that have been really terrible.
Maybe this isn’t a surprise for those of you who’ve taught at a liberal arts school for a while, but it’s been rather amazing to me. It’s made me wonder why I didn’t think about a school like this before.
Or maybe it’s all a fluke. I certainly hope not, though.