Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Afternoon Delight

Several members of my class spontaneously burst into song today. We started oral presentations today, and after the last presentation, while I was getting the graded essays out of my folder to hand back, about five guys in one corner of the room started singing "Afternoon Delight." Loudly.

And while it was a pretty funny incident, it draws attention to some concerns I have. For starters, I've been afraid all semester that this group of people (that same group in the corner) thinks I'm a wimp and a pushover and that they can get away with anything in my class. Which is only true because I don't think anything short of physical violence would keep them quiet during class. I've tried waiting, silently, for them to be quiet so that we can resume class. I've tried lecturing them about the importance of respecting what others have to say by shutting up while they say it. I've tried repeating entire chunks of my lectures because that group was being so noisy that other people actually couldn't hear. Nothing works for long.

So I'm wondering what purpose, if any, their little serenade had. Was I being tested? If so, I probably failed. I initially looked at them in half-mock, half-real astonishment. Then I returned to what I was doing and said, "Okay, that's enough." When most of them continued singing and I said, "No, seriously, that's enough," several other people in the class laughed. When I was ready to talk again, I looked at them for a few seconds until the last of the singing died off, and then made no references to it for the rest of the hour. What other possible methods of dealing with that are there? It's not exactly something they include in books about teaching.

I want people to be able to have fun in my class, but not if it makes me look like a fool. And I'm troubled by this because I'm not sure whether it made me look like a fool or not. I felt kind of foolish. After all, it's hard to imagine the same thing happening to a tall, middle-aged, male professor.


Blogger Max said...

Sorry if you find this offensive in any way. I was randomly browsing blogs and found yours. And read. And you have issues and feelings. And you're a teacher! It's sometimes strange as a student to see teachers as real human beings-- they seem distant, almost different. Oh well, another misconception shattered and many more to go.

12/06/2005 8:22 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

No offense at all. Actually, in a strange way, your comment helped. Because if you, as a student, are startled to find out that teachers respond to things emotionally, then the students in my class who I sometimes think are messing with me or trying to hurt my feelings...might not be, for the simple reason that they don't think of me as having feelings. Hm. Strange that that makes me feel better.

12/06/2005 9:00 PM  

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