I know I haven't spoken much about my Friday night English class this semester, but let's just say they are a very energetic group of 18/19-year-olds. I love that they are talkative and show up to class...but many of them seem to have trouble focusing, paying attention, and respecting me as a teacher. I am almost use to that last part because of my age. I have always been one of the younger college instructors in my department and with my youth often comes disrespect. Not because many of them mean to be disrespectful, but rather because they think they can talk to me like one of their peers. For example, some students think it's okay to say "Mrs. Davis, I just couldn't get this paper done because I partied waaaaayyyy too hard this week." I don't know if they think I will respond with something like, "No problem! I was hammered a lot this week too!" or "No biggie. Just turn your paper in whenever you feel like it."
Obviously, I don't respond that way because I have zero tolerance for that kind of excuse. Did I party in college? Absolutely. Did I ever fail to turn in an assignment when it was due? Of course. But I would never, EVER talk to one of my professors that way or give an excuse like that...even if it was true. But every semester, I have one or two students who think that honesty is the best policy. And while I do appreciate that, it isn't going to save their paper grade when they tell me they were too drunk to get it done.
But...with all this frustration comes a lot of rewarding moments as a college instructor too. I taught a very "honest" individual last year that just happened to be one of the most talented writers I have ever had in any of my English classes. He was so talented, in fact, that I often caught myself yelling at him before, after and during class because he was wasting that talent. He showed up late, skipped assignments and talked disrespectfully to me on more than one occasion. I would get so angry with him because he would act like this little punk, and then turn in the most beautifully written essay and I would think "what are you doing?!!" Well, I guess all my persistence paid off because I got one of the sweetest e-mails I have ever received from a student this past week. It read:
Dear Mrs. Davis,
This is _____ from your English class last year. I just wanted to let you know that I got accepted to NIU and I have declared English as my major. This is 100% because of your class and your encouragement. I have never had any instructor tell me that I was a talented writer and even though I gave you more than enough reason to kick me out of class...you kept letting me come back and try to work at my grade. I am sorry I tried your patience as much as I did. I have never been that great of a student. But writing has always been a passion of mine and I hope that one day I will become as awesome of a teacher as you are. Thanks for everything.
Well...if that isn't enough to make this emotional, pregnant, unappreciated teacher feel loved...I don't know what is :-) You know...it's things like this that make teaching so worth it :-)