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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Truth be told

I'm worried for myself. I'm going to call my now ex-shrink tonight to see if she has any referrals, as I really don't think it is a good idea to go completely without right now.

Today 3 students walked out of class during class. This happens every day, and I don't know if it is just in my class, or if it is just what students at this department do. But, I take it personally. Particularly when a student, like today, is in the front row, and walks all the way past the entire class, in front of me, and out the door WHILE I AM LECTURING. Next time I'm going to say something (like, "Hey, where are you going?" in a light manner). I'm fricking tired of this.

During class, I think a student made an extremely derogatory and sexist comment about me and my appearance. It wasn't loud enough for me to completely hear it. Thus, had I called attention to it, he would likely have denied it. Again, I don't know if this is just what happens at this school, or if it is just me.

I did learn this week that most profs give students very high grades and very little feedback. Also, hardly any classes have any writing assignments (not even final papers).

A student wanted to talk to me after class as she got a failing grade on her first paper. The assignment was to take theories from the readings and apply them to something from their own lives. She took the theories and used them to discuss a poem, and then used another writer's analyses of the poem. It honestly felt like she took parts of a literature paper and pasted them into a psych paper. It made absolutely no sense.

She was livid, told me that my assignment was too vague and that I needed "to learn to be a better teacher." She later told me that she was being really humble, and that I "needed to be humble" and accept I'd written a bad and vague assignment. Literally over 95% of the students in the class at least did the assignment right - isn't that a sign it isn't too vague? If 95% had done it wrong (or maybe even 50%), I'd consider I needed to give more direction - but the preponderance of students did it right (not to say they all got A's, but they followed the assignment). She was still livid, would not listen to me, refused my offer to have someone objective read it. She accused me of disliking her and that's why she got a low grade. I told her I didn't even know who she was when I read the paper. She then, get this, said that I saw that her name was Lithuanian and therefore was biased. First, I barely even know Lithuania is a country, much less have any kind of biases against Lithuanians.

When I finally left my office, all I wanted to do was cry, and numb myself with chocolate. I seriously don't think I can keep doing this. Clearly I am doing something to get this kind of horrible disrespect and rudeness. I'm not especially motivated to have anyone come to class to observe me - I don't want any more critical feedback right now.

And in all honesty, I feel like that is all I have in my life currently (real life, not blog life). This is partly why the shrink didn't work out. I realized on the bus home today that I need a shrink who will be the good, nice, supportive mom I never had. I need someone who supports, encourages, and accepts me. I then felt like an idiot for needing that -but intellectually I also know that is part of the goal of more dynamic or relational therapies.

On my way home, I was so upset I could barely keep myself from crying. I then realized a guy across the aisle from me was very obviously looking up my skirt.


At 6:02 PM, Anonymous twirly said...

Oh shrinky it is definitely not you. It may be that you are young and hip so the students find it easy to not think of you as an authority figure. I'm guessing you are at a private school that doesn't have too strenuous admission requirements...I think you just hold your ground (especially with the Lithuanian) and make an announcement that if students can't stay the entire class to not come at all (or talk to you ahead of time about why)....

you get the kind of shrink you need....!!

At 7:04 PM, Blogger Anastasia said...

okay, who the hell has an opinion about lithuanians?

seriously, your students suck beyond belief. It's truly remarkable how much they manage to completely suck.

get the referrals, find a therapist who knows what she's doing. take care of yourself.

At 7:54 PM, Blogger BrightStar said...

It infuriates me that the student would somehow turn around her misinterpretation of the assignment and make it your fault! In the future, she should check with people (classmates or you or both) to make sure she understands, because I believe you wrote a clear assignment.

I hope you have people who see you in a generous light stepping into your life sometime soon!

At 8:33 PM, Blogger StyleyGeek said...

Your post made me both laugh and cry. (Laughing at the idea that anyone could be biased against Lithuanians).

I really hope you can find the support you need soon.

And I'm with Anastasia, your students suck so much that they are like an archetype of student suckiness. Is this the reason the instructor they had lined up for this course fled at the last minute? They discovered who would be in the class?

I wish I could visit and give you chocolate and hugs.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Clio Bluestocking said...

You have a preponderance of assholes in your life!

You absolutely need a new therapist. This may be a long shot, but does your workplace have an EAP office, and can you avail yourself of it? Also, in my own case, I have called the health center at the school that I used to attend and asked them if they could recommend a good place for low income people and they were quite helpful. Could you do something like that?

For the students, you might need to drag in some administrative help. Approach them with the attitude that you are trying to improve your teaching methods and ask if they can send someone to observe and give you some advice. This will also serve to cover your own ass in the event that a brat (and Miss Humble sounds like a classic brat) complains. You may be surprised at how many people are already on your side.

And you are by no means whatsoever an idiot for wanting support, encouragement, and acceptance. You damn well deserve it! That, and the chocolate.

Hey, the thought just occurred to me: you stepped in for someone else, right? Maybe the students ran that person off and you have the class that no one else has the huevos to take. You are like Michelle Pfeiffer in that Coolio movie!

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Seeking Solace said...

What the hell is wrong with these people? How would you know that she is Lithuanian? These students are spoiled-ass little shits.

Get the referrals and take care of you.

At 3:17 PM, Blogger Lina said...

Lithuanian thing has amazed me. Little princess - hate that sort.
Hope you're feeling better, my dear.

At 8:17 PM, Blogger shrinkykitten said...

Twirly: I am at a private school, how did you know? I don't know what the admission requirements are - but I have heard it is not as good a school as students want to think it is. I will say the grad program in the department where I am seems fabulous.

anastasia: exactly! I had to look lithuania up in wikipedia to see if it was really even a country!

B*: I think it helps that I stole the assignment from someone else - so if it's bad, it's not my fault :)

styley: The previous prof is on medical leave - but why that is is very very mysterious. I am not allowed to contact her, and no one I have talked to knows what's going on. All I know is that the students loved her, so I don't think her leaving was about the teaching.

Clio: I'm just so not up for any kind of criticism - seriously. I am not in a place where I can be flexible enough to change either. And thanks for the thoughts on finding a shrink - trust me when I say I know my options, and I've tried what I can. Things get much trickier when one is a shrink, as it limits severely one's options (can't go anywhere I might work, or where I know people).

solace: I know, really. I've been saying Lithuanian so many times, I'm convinced that it really is a made up place.

lina: thanks dearest.

At 10:37 PM, Blogger Claire said...

I'm sorry the teaching is so hard. If you're in Chicago, and I can't remember if you are, I could give you some suggestions of good places to find a shrink. I actually have a wealth of knowledge about the Chicago therapy community. Let me know - and I'll email you my picks....

At 10:48 PM, Blogger shrinkykitten said...

mmm....I'm in nyc, but thanks anyway.

At 12:51 AM, Blogger k8 said...

Very odd. And the only people I can imagine having issues with lithuanians would be russians - gotta love those old soviet tensions. She doesn't think you russian, does she? (just kidding, of course)

How unbelievable ridiculous. I've had some students with attitude problems, but I hadn't heard that one before.

At 8:41 PM, Blogger psychgrad said...

I really feel for you having negative experiences with students. Although your semester is probably over now, I would suggest that you tell students that if they have to leave early, they should notify you at the beginning of class.

The student who said you are not clear should have clarified with you prior to doing the assignment. It really annoys me when students do not seek out answers and then blame the professor afterwards.

I have been a TA for a social psychology course where a similar assignment was required...It wasn't applying theory to their own life...but to some piece of art (movie, book, picture, etc...). I think I read 20 papers about conformity and the movie "Mean Girls". GAH! Either way, the assignment is not complicated and should not require mounds of information.

The student was really out of line for speaking to you that way. I'm not sure what I would do in that situation, but I tend to resort to being a hardass when questioned because I don't like the idea of students trying to take advantage of me for being a young female graduate student who is teaching a course.


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