Tuesday, April 19, 2005

thin skin

I have a student who sits in my afternoon class with a blank & angry stare most of the time. Sometimes she seems to be rolling her eyes. Is it me?

I've had a hard time getting this group of students to read, as I've said plenty of times already, and have finally dealt with it by pretending that everyone's read and breaking them into groups to answer some questions for discussion as that will force them to engage with the text on their own at least a little. This student, to her credit, is one who often reads, but she definitely doesn't seem to like me and her sighs and eyerolls bother me far more than they should. I'd like to sigh and roll my eyes at this class sometimes, too, but I've tried to muster up as much enthusiasm as I can just to get us through the end of it.

I need a thicker skin.

Last semester I had a student who exhibited similar body language when she came to class-- but at the end of the semester she wrote a very nice evalution for me (which I could identify because of her distinctive handwriting). Lesson should be-- can't always trust appearances. But the lesson I really need to learn is that it doesn't matter, they don't have to like me.

I wonder sometimes if I'm really cut out for this job. I dread the 75 minute class periods I have to teach every Tuesday and Thursday, and am even more wary of this compressed summer course I'm teaching for 4 hours daily (pre-travel). I do okay in shorter intervals, but being on-the-spot is still a very stressful experience for me. I love listening to people and learning about them. I've often felt very humbled reading papers for freshman comp of all things because of the details of their lives my students have chosen to share with me. I like watching them develop as thinkers. But I want them to like me, too, and that's a problem.

I think part of this stems from the total lack of friendships in this new place. I have some acquaintances at work, but none that I hang out with outside of work. I have P., I have some long distance friends, but in large part the students have turned into a primary source of emotional validation or stress. And that doesn't sound so healthy.

Punks. If they're not reading and we have poor discussions, it's not my fault, is it? So why do I feel so responsible?

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