I really expected to have fewer teacher-oriented/class disaster stories when I started teaching college. I was so misled.
I have a few students this semester who make my life a little more interesting than I would normally choose for myself. The one I'd like to talk about today, we'll call Mitch. Mitch is a recovering drug addict and just happens to be bipolar. Mitch is a nice guy overall, if a little creepy and normally unable to control his inner dialogue (it usually spews forth in the midst of my lectures when he's bored and ready to go home). The other students in the relatively small class are typically as annoyed with Mitch as I am, and it's my job to keep some semblance of order and civility, and I've done a damn fine job, if I do say so myself. I feel horrible for saying it, but 98% of me feels empathy for Mitch's plight, and the other 2% wants to cackle like a banshee when he does something way over the top. Damnit...I guess I'm human after all....although I like to think the teacher in me is able to overcome the laugh reflex (never let 'em see you giggle and NEVER EVER snort).
Last night, the final class meeting before Spring Break, I allowed Mitch and several other students to make up or retake quizzes for various reasons. Mitch missed a vocab. quiz because he chose to go to math tutoring one night during our weekly required lab time (irked me, but I still let him make it up). The quiz consisted of 40 vocabulary matching questions. Remember, he's had 3 weeks to study since he missed taking the quiz on the allotted night. I didn't think this particular exercise would be too much for Mitch because he's kept up with the other assignments better than I originally thought he might, and he's passing the course overall.
Here's how it went:
4pm - begin quiz in classroom with 2 other students and myself.
5pm - suggested that he take a seat in the adjacent classroom where he would have quiet space to work because our lab was starting.
5:30pm - he comes back into the room, sits in his usual place and I ask if he's ready to turn it in. He responds, "No, why?" I say, "Well, because you came back in and you do have to turn it in when you finish." He says, with a vexed look on his face, "These words aren't dictionarized right."
.....blank stare from me and the other students.....
I attempt a translation off the cuff...."You mean they aren't written the way they were on your vocab. list?"...."Yeah," he says. I explain that they're transcribed exactly as they were on the original list. "Oh, OK," he sighs. Our scheduled lab time is still ticking away, class is loud, we're discussing, etc., Mitch is getting distracted, so I suggest that he might take his place in his quiet classroom again, to which he nods and walks out in agreement.
15 more minutes pass
5:45 - I go across the hall, while the lab is working on something else, to check on Mitch's progress. He's on #14 and complains that the reading class next door is too loud for him to concentrate (and lemme tell you, they bug the shit out of me, too). I suggest an alternative plan of action. "Would you like to go down to the other end of the hall to work? You're welcome to if they're bothering you." I get the nod of approval.
5:46 - I return to my lab and we discuss their journal entries.
6:00 - I release class early as a special Spring Break gift to them, since we're normally the last ones to vacate the building on a regular class night. Mitch continues to work elsewhere.
6:01 - Two of my other students begin work on additional makeup quizzes and tests.
6:02 - Mitch enters the room and takes his normal place. I don't even ask what number he's on.
6:10 - Mitch gets up from his normal seat and moves to the opposite side of the room. Students taking tests look at him and resume work.
6:30 - Mitch gets up and returns to his normal seat to continue working.
6:35 - Moves again.
6:40 - Moves back.
6: 45 - Other two students complete work and leave me alone with Mitch with "Good luck" written in their sympathetic gazes and nods.
6:50 - I ask about Mitch's progress only to find out that he's completed TWO more matches in the last hour.
6:55 - I suggest that we call it a night, he can study some more over Spring Break, and he gets another hour to finish when we come back. It comes out in this exchange that he didn't study at all for this quiz. GRRRRRRRRRRR!
What the hell do I do with him???? I drove home with my sunroof open so the steam could escape from the top of my head with as little damage to the ceiling upholstery as possible.
You might be wondering a) Why didn't you make him turn it in quicker? b) Why didn't you question him more to get to the root of the probem.
My answers: a) He didn't have his bifocals with him b) he could easily make up the missed lab activities and this was sort of a "make up" night anyway c) it's like having Ozzie Ozbourne in class if Ozzie were a lot younger, quicker, and more hostile at times.