Thursday, September 2, 2010

a tale.

you're all atwitter with anticipation, aren't you?

good.  settle in. grab a snack. don't worry--i end up looking good, if not strong, in this story.

once upon a time, in the land of the collegetown u, there lived a newly crowned doctor named teachergirl.  somewhat uncomfortable with her newfound title, she walked around as if she was a commoner, a peasant named a teaching assistant even, rather than embracing the idea that she was, in fact, a bonafide and well-deserved NOBLEWOMAN. 

that's right. in the land of collegetown u and in all associated rural, local, or otherwise existing u, cc, or OIOHL, she had earned the right to wear a crown of awesome and to be worshiped with a few extra letters behind her name (it's a like a cape!) and the honor of a few extra before them as well (it's like a title!). 

but she, unwittingly, had not yet begun to don the noblewoman's habit and instead moved around the campus as if she was just like she always was--overworked, overtired, overconcerned that her superior noblepeople liked her and her performance, and overanxious that she was doing all she could to improve herself.  she held classes, answered questions, and somehow seemed to portray the idea that she could, in fact, be challenged by questions at every turn.

this didn't happen with every class.  nay.  it happened only with one, a class with a peculiar personality that was held in a windowless cave-like room with too much furniture and not enough lecture space.  even here, it was not every student in this class, though initially she thought that was true.  nay.  it was only really one, maybe two, of the strong personalities that came to congregate in her class.

one balmy afternoon, after a plague of mild proportions had descended upon teachergirl and she was just mustering up the energy to be enthusiastic about basically anything, the confrontational student unleashed what had to be the longest, most protracted, most somewhat illogical yet deceptively worrisome litany of questions yet.

teachergirl responded, initially, with the classic and noble "turn it around" technique.  you want to know why that principle of grading is in place in this class that has very real world applications? you tell me. 

and she was pleased to not only see people raising hands and engaged--people other than the student in question--but was nearly overcome with joy when the other seemingly aggressive student stepped up with perhaps the best example of the real world application EVER. 

and it was good.

yet, confrontational student did not like these answers, i can only imagine because they did not solidify his position as the King of all Rightness, and continued to ask follow up questions and "respond" to the comments with contrary comments.

and it was beginning to become annoying.

teachergirl began to look around, having decided earlier that day that, when dealing with this particularly unique class, she would be very careful to pay attention to the needs of the many rather than focusing only on the needs of the one.  she has spock to thank for that pearl of wisdom. 

she looked around, and was more and more pleased to see not just that she was off-put by the barrage of off-topic points (in the grand scheme of things, and in the context of what we were doing), but so were most of the students.

and the groundswell of that opinion began to build.

and it was good.

the students began to take back the class, stopping the argumentative student from taking any more time and refocusing our attention on what we had begun to do.  teachergirl began to do it too, having been embiggened (thank you, simpsons (not jessica)) by the support she saw in the faces of those who not only saw the validity of the points she was making but were convinced of them.

they reminded her of her noble position, if only through their collective respect, and taught her a valuable lesson.

though the arguments continued after class, teachergirl was not the same. no longer rocked back on her heels by the approach of this student, she began to stand her ground.  respectfully, but with some authority, she addressed his concerns and dismissed his complaints, trying always to find a fine line between communicating her desire to help said student succeed and holding fast to what she knew was true.

to take a line from kevin mcallister, and adapt it, the lesson was this: "this is my class, and i HAVE to defend it."

and it was good.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you, for inspiring the students to support you. That is not easy!