Post Academic

Don’t let teaching mess with your head (Part 2 of a series)

"Barrio Juroca en Reus, Tarragona, España/Spain" by Estruch (Public Domain)

Yesterday, I covered some of the things that make me mad when I’m teaching, mostly how classroom interactions with students can make me go Hulk.  Today, I discuss how a few bad classes–with a few bad apples–can really bring you down and make you feel awful about humanity, particularly yourself!  It really is a vicious circle: You take a poorly executed lesson plan home with you, let it stew, then those bad vibes and that cloud over your head go back with you to the classroom, and so on and so on…Somehow, you’ve just got to break the cycle and take a deep breath.

Here’s some more stuff that I get worked up about teaching…

I’m angry when I feel like a grumpy old man: Do you ever chalk things up to “generational difference” as a defense mechanism to explain away you might not be doing a particularly great job of teaching?  Or get in the mode of saying, “When I was in college, [fill in the blank]”, after teaching a class that you stayed up late to prepare, only to notice your students web surfing even more than normal?  Or how the thought that, “These kids have no respect!”, go through your mind in the middle of executing your lesson plan, only to have the whole class go off the rails because you get too fixated on that students texting right in front of you, as if it didn’t matter whether you saw it or not?  If you have, like me, take a step back, a deep breath, and tell yourself that you don’t need to let what’s left of your own youth go to waste becoming a grumpy old man before your time.

Continued, below the fold…


Don’t let ’em see you mad in the classroom (Part 1 of a series)

"Berlin Wall Hulk" by Gorgalore (Creative Commons license)

To follow up on what Caroline wrote last week about how there’s no crying in the classroom, I’m writing about a different kind of not-so-constructive display of emotion that gets stirred up in me when I’m teaching: anger.  Caroline has already picked up on what is the root cause of why I’m teaching-while-angry, and that’s the lack of respect I feel I get as a teacher.  Whether it’s feeling underappreciated as a peon adjunct and TA by admin or it’s more sociological, as the study that women and young faculty get more guff from students (geez, that’s a shocker!) suggests, there are moments where I can feel my inner Hulk about to burst through.

As an adjunct and grad student teacher without a whole lot of job security and a minority (which can come into play, too) who looks young, I definitely have some anger issues over a the sense I get that I lack authority in the classroom.  Really, all these circumstances build on one another: The teachers most at-risk–grad student instructors, adjuncts, untenured faculty–often lack age, experience, and rank, so they also appear the easiest to pick on.  And it is probably harder on women and minorities who might also appear young to project a sense of authority, just as it is for part-time teachers, just starting out in the profession and/or clinging on to it, with little institutional backing.  And don’t tell me that students can’t smell blood in the water when a teacher is uncertain about her/his standing in the classroom, even if they don’t understand the finer points of academic rank.  So how do I overcompensate for being young looking and an adjunct–I get mad!

OK, it’s time to talk my inner Hulk down a bit before I type this whole post out in BOLD CAPS, so read a more even-keeled assessment of what makes me mad about teaching below the fold…