Monday, July 21, 2014

Fed Up

Me: You're thirty minutes late for your appointment.

Student: Oh...sorry. But you're here for the whole afternoon anyway, right?

Me: For this paper, I want you to develop an argument about violence in video games and other media and how they affect young people.

Student #1: What do you want us to write about?

Me: As I just said, you have to write about violence in the media and how it affects young people. I want you to do research for this essay.

Student #2: So do we have to do research for this essay?

Me: (Don't start screaming. Don't start screaming. Don't start screaming.) That's what I said.

Me: What do you need help with?

Student: I don't know. Can you just revise the essay for me?

Me: NO.

Student's mother: You have no right to lower my son's grade just because he missed class a couple times.

Me: Yes I do, especially because he missed seven classes in a row.

Student's mother: It was my fault, because I didn't remind him to go to class. (I swear I'm not making that one up.)

Me: (Do you still cut up his meat for him too?) I still have to lower his grade.

Student's mother: Do not punish my son just because of your policies. I pay the tuition, so I have a say in how this class should be taught.


Student: I have to miss the next four classes to go to a family reunion in another state. But if you think school is more important than family, I'll sacrifice time with my family to come to class.

Me: Don't try to give me a guilt trip or make me be the bad guy just for requiring you to do the bare minimum, which is to show up. And disregard the smoke coming out of my ears right now.

I really do love teaching. I've learned more from my students than I have from anyone else. I love that every class is different, because of how they respond to the material. I love it when their faces light up and they have that "aha" moment, when they finally understand what I've been teaching them. I love picking out books for them to study.

I DON'T love when students keep asking questions about things seconds after I just talked about them, so that I have to keep repeating myself. That tells me that they weren't paying attention.

I DON'T love the nasty e-mails I get from undergraduates' parents, who try to bully me into changing their kids' grades. (I never back down to any of them.)

I DON'T love the fact that my students claim that they can't afford to buy the textbooks for the class, but they have enough money for iPads, laptops, and iPhones.

I DON'T love the fact that no matter how many times I tell students to stop texting and updating their Facebook pages during class, they pull out their phones again during the very next class.

I DON'T love it when undergrads e-mail me to complain about their grades, pressure me to change them, and threaten to get me fired if I don't give them A's. (I never back down to any of them.)

I DON'T love it when students blame me for their bad grades, even if they're the ones who kept missing class, turning in work late (or not at all), or turning in first drafts instead of final ones.

Some days I think that I want to be a teacher for the rest of my working years. Other days I think of spending the next thirty years teaching, and I suddenly feel very tired, frustrated, and wistful for the kind of career that wouldn't have made my hair start turning white when I was still in my twenties.

I stay patient with these kids (even the ones who scream at me for giving them grades they actually earned), but sometimes it's tough to hold my temper. Sometimes I want to scream, too. But if I did, I'd be the one in trouble. I really don't think it's fair how students often get away with bad behavior in class, such as treating their teachers with disrespect, and teachers have little power to stop them.

What about you? Do you ever get fed up with your work or the people you work with? How do you deal with it?


  1. Oh yeah. I can see how being a teacher would be tiresome. I'm glad you get to take a break next year!

    1. Hi Emily,
      I'm glad that I get to take a break too. I thought about applying for a teaching job at another school, but I finally decided that it would be better to apply for a student loan. I'll be in debt, but not nearly as much debt as the other grad students who took out loans years ago. And hopefully I'll feel less burned out about teaching as a result.

  2. Yes, I get fed up with things sometimes. I had a parent who was upset that I communicated via e-mail - I did this to remind students of their assignments. They also had a syllabus, notes from class, and verbal instructions and reminders in class. Somehow, she thought I only communicated via e-mail. Haha. No. E-mail was my "extra" beyond the usual kind of communication reminder.
    Anyway . . . I hear your frustration. And I'm sorry you have to deal with that, but I think you have the answer in that last paragraph. The students "earned" their grades. You didn't give them to them. They gave themselves their grades with their own work or lack of it.

    1. Hi Tyrean,
      Everyone uses e-mail these days, and it's useful because that way you can contact students outside of class. That parent shouldn't have gotten mad about that.
      The problem is that a lot of students have a strong sense of entitlement. Many of them actually said that they should get an A just for showing up to class. I like what you said about how they gave themselves their grades; I wish that more students understood that.

  3. Clearly I am naive because I had no idea that parent bullying went on. It boggles my mind. Surely they'd want the best for their children... which is for them to LEARN. Sigh.
    Your patience is admirable.

    1. Hi Lynda,
      A lot of parents think that what's best is making sure that their kids get an A, even if it means bullying the teacher. I wish I could say that that parent I described was the only one; the truth is, many parents have sent me nasty messages regarding their kids. It's no wonder that some kids are disrespectful; they get it from their parents.

  4. I've heard about these parents, and it drives me crazy just to hear about it. Any time I've had to give a student a low grade in younger grades, the parents have gotten it. Good for you for not backing down. Unfortunately, every job you have to take the good with the bad. I call see you understand how special it is to teach, and you must have what it takes to teach well.

    1. Hi Theresa,
      I wish that more parents were supportive and understanding like the ones that you described. At first I was more easily intimidated by people like them. After a while I felt angry rather than intimidated that people who'd never taught a day in their lives thought they could tell me how to do my job.

  5. I love those conversations! I can't believe parents try to influence the grade though - that's very wrong!

    1. Hi Annalisa,
      I can't believe it either; I wonder if those parents will also try to berate their children's bosses someday and pressure the bosses into promoting their kids. I'd like to see how THAT turns out.

  6. I don't think I'd ever have the patience to deal with all this...

    1. Hi Deniz,
      It's difficult for me to stay patient sometimes; I think it's one of the reasons I became so neurotic.