One of the things that keeps me returning to teaching each semester is that there is always, always something new to deal with.
I try to keep in mind, I am the teacher, in charge of the class. I walk in, and it's my "show." But there are students who challenge that.
Several semesters back, I had a plain outright BAD section. In desperation, part way through the semester, I asked my husband who works in education what to do. He suggested, given group dynamics, there are times when a group just picks up cues from certain individuals and there is NOTHING you can do. This class had one student who was clearly racist. When I asked, for discussion, what would happen when the ethnic distribution in the U.S. shifts away from majority white what would the result be--this student spoke first and said--NOTHING. Whites will still be in charge. So much for diversity and sensitivity.
Then there was the ESL student who outright plagiarized. How did I know? I started reading her paper, and thought--hhhmm, this sounds familiar. It was. Her sister had turned in the same paper two semesters before. But, in the meantime, I had changed the assignment! Just goes to prove, plagiarizing is ALWAYS a dumb move.
And, who can forget, Mac Cheese? Enough said.
Now this semester--what could be my new challenge?
Why, students who sleep in class. Now, I have had this circumstance before. One student fell asleep and his books slid off the desk, landing on the floor with a LOUD bang, waking him up. I talked to him at the end of class, and he said--oh, I was planning to drop the course anyway.
But this semester, in each of my two sections, I have a student who sleeps consistently. I don't stand for it. First, how can you learn while you are asleep? Second, it is disrespectful. So, I call them out. One section begins at 8 a.m., and there sits this one guy in the back of the room, head propped against the wall, asleep. So I stop talking, wait a bit, then call his name.
The other section begins at 12:30 p.m., and two students, both guys, sit in the FRONT row, put their heads down and sleep. So, I walk over, bend down and peer into their faces. The other students giggle, which wakes them up. One of these two guys does look apologetic, but the other clearly could care less. Time to call them out and say--enough. I have warned them, I will mark them absent if they sleep through the whole class.
What else is there to do? I know these students are over-scheduled. Many work nearly full-time jobs (this is characteristic of a community college). But, I am unapologetic--I have worked in the business world, and people who sleep on the job get fired.
OK--I feel better. Anyone else have tricks to add to my bag?
photo credit: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=brain-gain-brain-wave-boo