So! How’s it Going?

So far, so good!

We’ve managed to get through the first week of classes. I met with all three of my groups on both Tuesday and Thursday of last week, and I am happy to report that it seems – from this early vantage point, at least – that things are going to go swimmingly.

My first class of the day is a public speaking course. It meets at 8:40 and, like most 8:40 classes, the students arrive a little dull. Most of them mosey in with take-out coffee cups in their hands, and I’m thinking about asking a couple of them with the Dunkin’ Donuts variety cups to consider springing every once in a while for a box of Munchkins. They manage to perk up a bit by the time the second half of the class rolls around, so I’ll likely try to save the note-taking and other attention-requiring activities for after break and get them doing group work and playing games in the first half of class.

Anyway, this group seems like a pretty good bunch. I have five girls in the course who were with me in the composition class I taught during the semester before last, and I really liked all of them, so I’m happy to see them again. I do have one or two students who may present me with challenges, though; one is a student who O’Mama had in her speaking class last term (which tells you something about how well he did), and the other is a young man who, by way of introducing himself, made a point of telling me that he comes from the slums, that he speaks Ebonics, and that he has anger issues. For his first, highly informal speech (we played the “like, um, ya know” game), he essentially rapped for 30 seconds, and included a lot of inappropriate language and incomprehensible city slang. I can tell already that he’s going to by my biggest issue this term; when I told him that he’s going to have to learn to moderate his syntax and learn to speak slowly, clearly and appropriately, he did the affected “this is who I am, yo! Like it or not” thing, to which I replied, essentially, “you can be like that, yo, but it won’t earn you a passing grade with me and you’ll get to do it again next term.” Do not get into pissing matches with me, kid. You WILL lose.

My 11:10 class is tiny; I have eleven students on the roster. One of them is a young woman who was also my comp. class last winter, and she told me that she was really excited about being my student again. It seems she’d gone to the registrar’s office and essentially said “I want to work the rest of my schedule around Mrs. Chili’s speech class.” I was flattered, and I’m happy to have her back; she’s a strong writer, an inquisitive thinker, and she’s got a fantastic sense of humor. The rest of the class is comprised of thoughtful, engaged students who, so far, participate in discussions and ask really great questions. I think this is going to be my favorite class this term.

I’m running an experiment with the 11:10 class: my impressions of them on the first day were that they were mature and focused. So far, that has borne itself out, and I’m considering letting them call me by my first name. I mentioned this on Thursday, and had a short conversation about how awkward I was feeling about it, about how most of my students to this point have lacked the maturity to conduct professional relationships without the formality of the name, and that I was trusting them to be my experimental class to see how it goes. I think that all of them recognized and appreciated what I was trying to say, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Of course, my former student in this class is roommates with one of the students in my 8:40 class, and THEY’RE calling me Mrs. Chili; I hope this doesn’t create trouble later…

My last class of the day is comprised almost entirely of culinary studenst (there’s one business administration student and, of course, me). It’s a Foundational English class, which is essentially remedial grammar. The foundational students are a very interesting mix of personalities ranging from studious and attentive to, well, not. This is typical of culinary students, I should add: the range between the kids who are serious about what they’re doing here and the ones who are only going to college because their parents would kick them out if they didn’t is nowhere more obvious than it is in the culinary school.

On the first day, I ended up with a gaggle of kids who weren’t on the roster. I penned their names on the last page, taught the first class, then sent an email to the registrar letting her know that the kids were with me that day and asking if they were supposed to be. It turns out that none of them was, and I got to kick them all out on Thursday. This was an unmitigated relief to me; the class was huge – at one point, I was up to close to 30 students – and I could tell that a couple of them were going to be huge disruptions to the class.

One boy in particular was a delight to remove: did you ever see Police Academy? Remember the black guy who only spoke in sound effects? That’s this kid. I don’t know if he has Tourette Syndrome or something, but the entire class was punctuated by his high-pitched “chicka-chew!” sounds at inappropriate moments (as if there’s an appropriate moment for that in a college classroom). It was slightly more than I was willing to deal with twice a week for the next eleven weeks, thank you very much, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m glad he’s sitting in someone else’s class.

All in all, it looks like it’s going to be another great semester. I have a ton to do; I really kind of goofed off last week and we didn’t get any real work done, so I’m going to get serious this weekend and plan at least the next four to six classes. I have to download a bunch of speeches for the first two classes and come up with activities for the grammar kids. I need to make sure that I have everyone uploaded into my grading program and be certain to keep up with entering grades. Once I feel like I’ve got my feet underneath me, though, I’m going to really love going to work.



Filed under little bits of nothingness, Teaching

9 responses to “So! How’s it Going?

  1. Anonymous

    You know Ms Chili, I read your post here and I’m quite surprised by your writing. You are supposed to be a teacher and yet you have the nerve to put down a student who may have Tourette’s Syndrome?!?!? Is your world so perfect that this one little challenge of teaching a student with TS would ruin this 11 week session for you?!?!? That is just plain sad. Instead, you should have reached out to this student and in fact asked a few simple questions and maybe learned how to work with them in your class and shown a little respect. For their sake I’m glad they were not in the right classroom. It’s teacher’s like you that make fun of the “not so perfect students” that shouldn’t be teaching at all. True teachers take pride in teaching all types of students, even the ones from the “slums” or the ones who are challenged with obstacles everyday from TS, ADHD , any type of special needs for that matter. Did you even know that people with TS are found to be more advanced in speech and grammar skills…..maybe that is something you should focus on the next time should you ever have a student with TS again. Also , please think about the challenges they face everyday from other peers putting them down….that is bad enough. You as a teacher should be teaching your students to respect everyone’s differences….not putting them down along with the uneducated!

    BTW…this is coming from a Mom of an 11 year old son with TS who is a straight A student and has had the best teachers so far to help him get through his early school years. I sure hope he continues to get such excellent teachers and NEVER gets one like you!

  2. I absolutely love coming here! You speak honestly about the challenges of teaching at the college level. My experiment during Summer A was to do away with my attendance policy…it was a positive experience over the summer…however…I have placed a line in the fall syllabus that “if it becomes a problem…see attachment”. I have learned to continually cover my bases with my syllabus. :)..Good luck!

  3. WHOA! Anonymous! Back ’em up!

    I was NOT making fun of the kid; the reference I made to Police Academy was the only analogous situation I had in my reference bank to describe this student’s behavior. I was pleased to be rid of the student because he was immature and disruptive; I would never, ever have said anything like that in reference to a student with a real disability.

    I know for sure that the student DOESN’T have TS: we, as professors, are given advanced notice of special-needs students who come into the classroom. If he DID have TS, I would be coming here looking for advice on how to best teach him; I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about the condition and, beyond reading a chapter or two in a pitifully insufficient Sp.Ed. class I took in grad. school, have no experience in dealing with that kind of challenge in the classroom. If you’ve been reading me at all for any length of time, you should know that I have no problem admitting when I don’t know something, and that I am more than happy to ask for help and advice from people who DO.

    While I understand your sensitivity to my comments, and I genuinely apologize for making you feel disrespected and upset, I would hope, in the future, that you would take into account that perhaps the best way to educate people about this kind of thing is not not fire off with indignant outrage. I may have made an ignorant and ill-considered comment – and I’m willing to concede that I did – but I have to say that your response to it does not inspire me to come to you – someone who I would consider an expert and an excellent resource – for information. It may be well for you to try to adopt a little of the sensitivity toward me that you accuse me of not having toward you.

  4. joan

    I too was offended by your reference to TS. I do however, appreciate your apology. Unfortuantely, too many people do not understand the conditionan make insensitive remarks. It is difficult for 18 year old children/young adults to have to show up in classrooms like your and be judged. TS can cause a disruption to the class but the damage to the student by humiliating them is far worse than the disruption. Children with TS come in all shapes and sizes. Some are above average students others are below average. Teh one thing they have in common is the bullying they receive everyday. Do not assume that this student did not have TS because you were not notified. My daughter is about to start college. Her teachers will not be notified ahead of time. Like most University’s it will be up to her to disclose this confidential information. Next time you are confronted with this type of situation take the time to talk to the student. Find out if something is going on with them. Then you can consider yourself a truly exceptional teacher.

  5. Okay, I didn’t think I’d have to say this, but I did not, I repeat, I DID NOT, humiliate this student. I engaged him in conversation, just like I did the rest of the class. He introduced himself, I asked him questions about where he came from and why he chose his program, and I moved on. Yes, I probably should have been more considerate about the things I said in THIS forum, but this forum is a far more free and open space than my classroom. I assure you all, I behaved professionally and sensitively with the student while we were in the class.

    If it had turned out that he was placed in my class, I WOULD have taken him aside and talked to him about his behavior in class; it was a conversation that would have happened on Thursday. At that point, I would hope that he would have been honest with me if he had a condition that precipitated that behavior, though I stand by my belief that the administration would inform me; we have an office which deals with issues of special needs, and I have dealt with them on several other occasions. We professors receive documentation of student conditions that affect their performance in class, and we sign off on the accommodations that we are being asked to make for the student’s benefit.

  6. Just ignore the comments left regarding this particular post…they were out of line for the point that you were making… and I see no reason to defend yourself. At our college there is a statement that we are required to put in our syllabus regarding students with disabilities..”Any student with a documented disability (physical, cognitive, psychological) who requires academic accommodations should contact….as soon as possible to request an official letter outlining authorized accommodations.”…..this places the responsibility where it belongs…in the hands of the student…not the administration and certainly not their ‘helicopter’ parents. And furthermore…if you did not behave professionally and sensitively toward any and all students…they would have the Department Chair or the Dean breathing down your neck ;)….and obviously this has not happened because you are still teaching… 🙂

  7. bowyer


    In response to your comments.

    While I respect your opinion and your knowledge in this area, your response toward someone you have known only through a blog is puerile at best. I have known Mrs. Chili for more than a decade, and while the comment may have been perceived as degrading, I can assure you it was not meant as such.

    I am not writing to defend Mrs. Chili, but rather to take you to task. I have been a certified teacher for nearly 12 years and have worked as such for closing on 20 years. I would have to say that parents who make comments (“I sure hope he continues to get excellent teachers and NEVER gets one like you!”), such as yours are the people who make teaching difficult. You made a snap judgment about a teacher’s character based on a single comment (granted it is extremely offensive in your eyes). Your assumption that Mrs. Chili wishes only to teach the “perfect” students from her blog entry, I hope, can only be ascribed to your initial outrage at what you perceived as her intent. You must keep in mind that you are especially sensitive to this subject and your comments may be as hurtful to a teacher who is still learning (as we all are) to help all students to the best of our abilities, as her comment was to you.

    The most difficult part of teaching is finding people who understand what a teacher goes through while trying to reach out to, and understand, all of the children we come in contact with. If you haven’t taught professionally, don’t assume that because you attended many years of school and have children going to school, that you understand what goes on there and what we do.

    Maybe, next time a more thoughtful and educative response would serve better to enlighten us all about the trials a student with TS endures. If you had stated “Mrs. Chili, your comments made me angry because…” I would have put far more stock in your response. Unbridled attacks are not likely to serve anyone well.

  8. sphyrnatude

    Coupla comments: first on Homey bro ebonics: “In this class we speak English. If you cannot do that, please come back after you have taken the appropriate remedial courses, and can. Goodbye.”

    second on sound effects boy. “This is a college classroom. If you cannot comport yourself in a manner that is not disruptive to the rest of the class, please remove yourself. We are here to learn, not to provide you with an audience.

    Even if he DOES have a physical or mental impairment (not PC, but I consider my physical condition an impairment, and don’t bother with PC crap and using other words), if it is such that it disrupts the classroom or effects the other students ability to learn, he shouldn’t be there. Period. Life sucks, but do you think any employer is going to give this kid special consideration? “I know he makes all those inappropriate noises, but please Mr. customer, just ignore it, and we’ll continue our meeting.” Yep. Sure gonna happen. What WILL happen is that the first time this retard blows any sort of deal, offends a customer or in any way impacts the way his employer does business, the employer will find a nice legal, not-related-to-his-defect excuse to punt his sorry ass back onto the street. College is supposed to prepare these kids for the real world. Pretending that his behavior gives him even the slightest chance of success in the real world is doing him a disfavor, and penalizing the rest of the class for no good reason.

    Welcome to the real world kiddies. Learn to cope, or check out.

  9. Pingback: Showdown at TCC « A Teacher’s Education

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