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?

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Best (and Worst) Things about Summer in Chicago

1. I don't have to put on four layers of clothes before I go outside.

2. I just wish that I hadn't eaten all that chocolate last winter so that I would feel more comfortable about walking around without four layers of clothes on.

3. I can go for a bike ride by the lake.

4. When I go bike riding, I have to deal with all the aggressive, nasty, and territorial cyclists on the bike path who yell, "On your left," "Incoming," and "GET OUTTA THE WAY, DAMMIT!"

5. The good-looking, muscular guys in tank tops.

6. The fact that most of the good-looking, muscular guys only have eyes for the skinny girls in short shorts.

7. Neighborhood festivals, like Halsted Market Days, Chinatown Summer Festival, and the Taste of Chicago.

8. People at the festivals who spill beer on you, which leaves you with no choice but to sneeze on their food.

9. Old movies that are shown on huge screens in the park, where people can set up beach towels, bring snacks, and watch the movies for free.

10. The jerks who set up huge lawn chairs right in front of the people sitting on beach towels, which leaves the latter with no choice but to throw popcorn at them.

11. The blue sky, sunlight, and a cool breeze that make you want to spend the whole day outside.

12. Sunburn, sweat, and bug bites from spending the whole day outside.

13. The view of the Chicago River and the skyscrapers in the Loop, which makes you realize how beautiful the city is.

14. The tourists who crowd the sidewalk, walk very slowly, and make you look forward to winter, when it'll be too cold for anyone to be on the sidewalk.

What about you? What are some of your favorite things (or pet peeves) about summer in your hometown?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Romantic Comedies vs. Real Life

Recently I read an article on titled "14 Lies That Rom-Coms Tell You", and it included "lies" like "every eligible bachelor in the world is a well-paid architect" and "your best friend exists for the sole purpose of listening to you complain about your problems". Although I love romantic comedies, I agreed with a lot of what that article said. In fact, it made me come up with a list of my own.

1. Skinny girls do not eat entire pints of ice cream while listening to sad music and still stay skinny. The skinny girls I know drink Diet Coke and complain about being fat, while I resist the urge to throw a mirror at them.

2. It's NOT cool to steal your best friend's boyfriend. I've never had a crush on any of my friends' boyfriends, but even if I did, I wouldn't try to steal any of them. I am currently plotting revenge (so far I'm trying to figure out how I can get a skunk to spray my neighbors or how to make them move to Antarctica) against my neighbors for stealing my magazines. When I find something that doesn't belong to me, like a wallet or a cell phone, I give it back. So I wouldn't go several steps further and steal someone's boyfriend.

3. It's also NOT cool to break up someone's wedding. I've lost count of how many scenes I've watched where the romantic lead crashed someone's wedding, declared his or her love for the bride or groom in front of everyone, and then sprinted off with the object of his or her affection. In the movies it's romantic. In real life it's selfish, cruel, and humiliating. I think that if the person I loved was going to marry someone else, I'd accept it rather than destroy his relationship and ruin his wedding. If someone tried to do that to ME, I'd send a skunk after her or possibly all the paparazzi who think "morals" are for cowards. In the movies, being "in love" supposedly justifies these kinds of actions, but I don't think that being in love gives anyone a free pass to hurt someone else.

4. 99% of the time, your cute male friends are not secretly in love with you. In my situation, my cute male friends were either taken, gay, or secretly in love with the skinny girls who drank Diet Coke and complained about being fat.

5. It's actually necessary to spend more than 5% of your time working. In several of the movies I watched, young women either spent most of their time at work flirting with cute coworkers or obsessing over cute coworkers. Other women didn't think it was necessary to go to work every day (or at all). When I'm at work, I don't obsess over cute guys; I obsess over grammatical errors, students who don't look up from their iPads during class, and the fact that basketball players earn more money playing one game than I earn in a year.

6. People don't usually kiss in the rain, at least not here in Chicago, because they'll a) get wet; b) get knocked down by impatient Chicago commuters (one of whom may or may not be me); c) get heckled by drunk Cubs fans who will also record them on their cell phones.

7. In romantic comedies guys make grand gestures like fill girls' apartments with flowers, take them for moonlit canoe rides, or serenade them outside their window. In real life, most of the guys I've dated think that "grand gestures" usually involve texting.

I still love romantic comedies. For me, they're an "escape" and a modern-day version of fairy tales. But I know that fairy tales aren't real, and it's not okay to imitate all the behavior in the movies. The problem with movies and fairy tales is that they often create unrealistic expectations of romance and people in general. These types of stories are still told because people still want to "escape", and some of them still hope that what happens in those stories will happen for them.

What about you? What are some "lies" that you've seen in romantic comedies or other types of movies?