I had a bad experience with students and I had planned to write about it. And that was what I was planning to write about. I spend a morning each week in a computer lab due to the fact that I have a class that makes heavy use of computer software. I’m sitting in the lab and a young lady (and I used that term with dripping sarcasm) comes in walking past the lab monitor. I was going to write about this young lady’s attitude. She couldn’t be bothered to give the monitor her ID number. When the monitor asked, the young lady mumbled her number without even turning around. Once again the monitor asked, and the young lady, just as quietly, mumbled her number again, but more angrily. The monitor stopped the young lady, and informed her that the policy was that all students who come to use the lab stop at the monitor, give their number, and then proceed to a computer. The young lady countered that the monitor looked busy. This moment was the one that inspired me to write.
“How could this student act like this?” I planned to say. “What have students become?” I thought. “I would never have done this while I was a student.” THis was going to be a great post full of anger, resentment and vitriol.
And then the situation changed. The hardworking students in the lab turned on the young lady. “Look, she can’t here you. Walk over there and talk to her.” “How rude” They said. The young lady was given the cold shoulder. Her bravado and arrogance did not earn her the respect and admiration of her peers.
So I was gong to write about our students. And I still am. I was going to say, “Can you believe it?” and I still am. It is so easy to discount today’s young people. It is so easy to declare them a waste of good air. Certainly, some seem to work very hard to fall into that group. Most of them do not. Most of the students are like that mass of students in the lab: resentful of the rotten apples who give them a bad name. Most of them work really hard. Most of them want to attend school to learn.
Too often teachers focus on the problems. They are the ones who disrupt class. They are the ones who take our time and energy. They are the ones we worry will find something to complain about to a higher authority.
I was given some sage advice when I started teaching. “Spend five minutes everyday with the worthwhile students.” Five minutes didn’t sound like much. But remembering to do at least that little bit makes a world of difference. So many teachers are jaded, grumpy curmudgeons. It is easy to become so. It is easy to let the rare problems suck all the life and energy out of the teaching. Five minutes isn’t too much. In fact, it saves the day.
And so, I was going to write about our miserable students, but really, we don’t have many. Most are wonderful, and now I have to find something else to blog about.