The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Messenger Was Shot

Posted by Seeking Solace |

Today was 180 degrees different from yesterday. I had two classes of upper level students. I was looking forward to working with them because at their level, I can dive into in depth legal issues. I knew that there might be some issues surrounding my presence as their instructor. This goes back to the unbloggable work related issue. Well, the students were not pleased that I was their instructor. They bitched and moaned about the unbloggable situation; some even walked out of class to complain to the dean. Another had the audacity to question my credentials, which are stronger than my predecessor, she seemed to calm down. But, the worst part was the absolute disrespect that was shown to me. And, I wish I could go into detail and tell you exactly what went on, but this situation is really bad. The Dean was very supportive and had my back when students went to him to complain. But, this is even difficult for him too as the situation is out of his hands.

I get that students have an attachment to an instructor. But, to treat a new person in such a inappropriate and disrespectful way is just wrong. I don't care if a student likes me or not, I just ask that a student be respectful. It took everything I had not to give them a Seeking Solace smack-down. Doing so would have felt great, but I would have lost them permanently. I had to play it cool and tread lightly. A few seemed to come around, but I can see where there are a couple that I am going to have to take to school.

I've been running on autopilot all day, just out of sorts. I wasn't able to do what I do best. I wasn't given the chance. I didn't bring any work home. Husband stopped at the store to get dinner. He bought me chocolate ice cream and cupcakes. (That's my vice since I can't drink. And let me tell you, I could really go for a shot of whiskey right now). I am going to soak in the tub with a Lush bath bomb.

Tomorrow is an office day. I am going to put my headphones on and try to figure out what's next.


Nels said...

Tell them all this, if you haven't already. You were not even around when it happened, and your concern is teaching them this material. What happened with the previous person is not supposed to be the subject of the class, and you're not going to let it be the subject of the class. They can go to the appropriate people, but you are not that person and your class is not that place.

I'm irked for you!

MissDazey said...

I'm so sorry for you. I guess since these are college age students they think the can say what they wish. Good to know the dean is on your side. Can you kick them out of class?

By the way, my comfort food is ice-cream and cookies. I knew there were many reason I like you. Ice-cream people are GOOD PEOPLE!

Scrivener said...

I agree with Nels. This sucks.

rented life said...

Yikes. I'm so sorry. (Then again, I did secretly hope that the people who replaced me were given a hard time by my former students...but that's different I AM more qualified than the jack asses that replaced me.)

I'm a phone call away, if you want to talk. Keep working on them--maybe spend the first half of next class talking about where you are from, your journey to get where you are at, (add in some humor-I know you will!) and how you're truly sorry that what happened happened to them because adjustment like that is difficult, but you have their best interests at heart and want to move forward from that day on. I've done something similar with difficult classes and it helped lighten things a little. I still worked hard on them for the following classes, but at least they were able to see--I'm not a bad person. I do care. You can do the same.

chel said...

I am so sorry that this was the response. It sounds like they're acting very immature, though, as if their favorite babysitter moved on and they don't like the new one.

Students are weird how they get attached to people. I don't know what the situation was, but if they had an extended relationship with this prior prof, that may be part of the reason they behaved so inappropriately. It makes me wonder how well they were prepared (by whomever) for this change. (Not that I'm defending them whatsoEVER!)

It sounds like you handled it well. It takes a lot of strength to be calm in the face of that.

I agree with Nels.

Brigindo said...

So sorry you've got this issue going on when all else about the job seems so wonderful. Students are emotional creatures and act inappropriately. It sucks to be on the receiving end that has nothing to do with anything you've done or will do. However I believe you will win the majority of them over....and the few who don't convert you'll eventually have to take down. Remember that if they make the class miserable for the rest of the students who do come around, you will only gain additional support by putting them in their place. So you're absolutely right today was not the day but the day will come.

And can I say yay! for Husband.

Rebecca said...

I agree with Nels, too. If you can get across that you get where they're coming from, but there's absolutely nothing you can do about it and - as Nels said - your primary concern is teaching them the material, then maybe you can keep their focus on learning.

If some students continue to disrupt class, just begin by telling them - in front of the rest of the class - that you are more than willing to have a reasonable discussion about their concerns outside of class time. But you don't want to rob any students of teaching in order to address the issue, because - again - your primary goal is to make sure everyone learns the material.

The longer you can handle it in a manner where your reasonableness is contrasted with their unreasonableness, the more other students will back you up as they begin to understand that it's in their best interests to use class time for learning. Then, if a super SS smackdown is still necessary, it will be with the support and respect of the majority.

I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Hopefully, it will all blow over fairly quickly and you will have smooth sailing from then on.

Wishing you the best of luck!

TiredProf said...

I agree with Nels's advice. This situation is not of your making, so they should gripe to someone else.

I'm so sorry you're having to put up with this, but have seen similar situations in my own department a couple of times. It's a shame that the other person is apparently still around, as that makes it even harder for you. My guess is that you're in for a rough couple of weeks but that you'll eventually win most of them over. Maybe some will drop the class and get out of your hair. And at the end of the term they will be gone, yes?

Hang in there and use your dean's support as needed.

AliceAcademic said...

Sorry you have to deal with this. Hang in there.

Sherlock said...

What an awful situation. Sounds like neither they nor you were prepared for the backlash. Follow Nels' advice -- it's spot on!! YAY for hubbies who understand all about ice cream!!

chel said...

If I were still in facebook, I would post on your wall just now, "Have a great day, and it's Friday!"