Word Nerd and Classroom Confrontations

Wednesday, I collected the revised outlines from my students.  They were charged with fixing any mistakes based on my feedback from the first turn-in, adding an introduction and conclusion, connectives, and identifying their organizational pattern.  I also started off class with a quiz.

The quizzes are relatively short, 12 questions–usually all multiple choice, and cover material that we previously discussed.  I have always allotted about 10 minutes for the quizzes, but on this particular day I had a student who balked at the idea that they only had 10 minutes.  (She wasn’t quite finished with her quiz.)  Most all of the other students had finished their quizzes.  I did have one student who arrived 10 minutes late to class, and that left 5 minutes for her to complete the quiz.

The student who wasn’t quite finished asked me “Where in the syllabus does it say the quizzes are timed at 10 minutes?”  I told her that it wasn’t stated in the syllabus, to which she replied “Why not?!”  Of course, I was caught off-guard.  Now, I can think of a zillion answers to her questions, but in the moment she had me stammering a bit.  (And, like I mentioned, all of their quizzes had been timed, I just don’t think that she had ever noticed.)

Trying to be diplomatic, I explained that I couldn’t allow an endless amount of time for the quiz because it eats away into lecture time.  It takes us about 2 hours to get through one chapter and the lessons are designed for a 50 minute class period.  I have been banging my head up against a wall trying to figure out why it takes so long to get through it all.  She suggested that they have 20 minutes to complete the in-class quizzes.  I explained that I was willing to increase the time limit t 15 minutes if all of the students agreed that it was practical.

No one said anything.

I’m not sure if that meant that they were in agreement or disagreement. But, I also made the stipulation that if I increased the time allotted to 15 minutes, the quiz would be handed out at 9am sharp, not 9:05 or 9:10.  I also noted that it was 9:25 and all that we had done for the day was a short quiz and that we couldn’t let time get away from us.  I suggested that I could put a note on the online discussion board for the class about the change and update the syllabus.  The student was feeling very hostile and said “You don’t have to do anything.”  And I just let it go at that point.

But, that wouldn’t be the end of students being argumentative towards me for the day.  Later, while we were discussing chapter 9: wording the speech, a student offered an example of using simplistic language.  However, her understanding was a little off because the example she offered was not correct.  I explained to her why it didn’t fit, but she wanted to continue arguing that she was right.  I tried my best to quell the tension.  I stated the she offered an example of something else that was covered in the chapter and perhaps after we had discussed that topic she would have a greater understanding.  But, she just wouldn’t let it go.

I was starting to feel very frustrated.  Time was getting away from me again and I felt like I was in opposition with this student.  I don’t want to have that sort of atmosphere in the classroom.  I want the students to offer examples and speak freely and without fear that if they are wrong I will squash them.  It can even be good when they answer a question incorrectly–it helps me to be able to clear up and misconceptions that they might have.

Finally, I told the student that she could put her thoughts into an essay and turn it in next class period.  This was the only way that I could get her to let it go and continue with the lesson.  However, this sparked all sorts of controversy from other students who mistakenly thought that I was offering this person extra credit.

Needless to say, it was a very trying day.  And the worst part of it all is that it is probably my favorite chapter in the book and I look forward to teaching it!  It’s all about words, and I am somewhat of a word nerd.

Black dress: Old Navy. Black cardigan: Target. Pink belt: Target. Black wedges: Target. Watch: Fossil. Earrings: J.C. Penney

I had originally planned to wear my new-to-me white trouser pants that I recently washed, but when I pulled them off of the hanger and put them on there was a horizontal crease on the thigh area from being on the hanger.  I was saddened because I didn’t have time to iron them that morning and I had to find a different outfit to wear.  Since my first choice was out, I didn’t want to fuss with putting another outfit together, so I reached for a dress.  I have worn this dress before, but it was layered up for Fall weather.  To make it more Summer appropriate, I layered a light 3/4 sleeved black cardigan over top (my classroom is air-conditioned) and paired it with open-toed wedges.  For a bright and fun pop of color, I added this hot pink belt.  I kept the jewelry to a minimum, adding only silver hoop earrings and a silver watch.

You may have noticed that I did get my hair trimmed, so it is looking quite good in these pictures–if I do say so myself.  I also tried to echo the pop of hot pink in my makeup, with a very bright and cheery pink blush.  I liked the outfit, overall.  Another great perk about this dress is that it has pockets!

How about you? For the teachers out there, how do you handle confrontations with your students? What would you have done differently?


3 comments on “Word Nerd and Classroom Confrontations

  1. Shit Men Do says:

    For the student with the incorrect example…

    I find that asking questions about the example given is a good way to diffuse any confrontation. When you require the student to think about the answer, they’re focused on thinking, as opposed to feeling attacked (no matter how nicely you put it).

    Another thought is to open up the classroom to more examples (assuming that your students will actually participate) before commenting on the incorrect example. If you are able to initiate a class discussion, the students (being peers and not in a position of authority) may help the student see the difference of their example as compared to the others. If none of the students are getting the concept, you can then assess that maybe the delivery of the material didn’t translate.

    Hope this helps 🙂

  2. Shit Men Do says:

    A past in retail will learn you a thing or two 😉

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