In one of our groups there is a mother/daughter duo going through the program together. They sit together, they mostly get along, but I get the feeling the daughter is actually the more responsible one. On a recent palpation test the two happened to be paired together, and as the mother struggled to show me the general location of levator scapula, the daughter pulled her head out of the face cradle, gritted her teeth and petulantly muttered:
“This is why you’re supposed to study, MOM.”
Imagine every other syllable of that with a little extra teen angst dripping off of it for good measure, and you’ll understand why I had to bite my lip from laughing in their faces.
Caught a student cheating on a test. She was very clearly looking at her notes that she had under the table inside of a large purse. When I noticed (and she was one of two students left in the room at the time, so how wouldn’t I notice?) I walked over, took her test away, and told her you can’t do that. That’s cheating.
“But I just wanted to check one answer,” she said.
“That’s what CHEATING is!” I said.
English is also not this student’s first language. She normally does fine in class, but she tried to play that card with me after the test was done. She kept saying my English is not so good, so you forgive me this time?
I did not, and she understood that at least.
I have less and less of it. I don’t know what exactly caused my stomach tumor a few months ago, but I’m sure it was at least somewhat stress-related.
So when students come back late from break, their tables aren’t ready, they’re making obscene jokes, they’re goofing off and trying to sneak food into the lab rooms, I don’t react as calmly as I once did. One student noticed my face sinking into consternation and asked:
“Are we annoying you, Jason?”
And instead of just replying to her I began yelling.
“I am not annoyed. I am very disappointed in everyone in this room right now. I’m disappointed that I keep hearing inappropriate language and that I can’t start my class on time because half of you don’t know how to use the bathroom during your break.* I’m disappointed that you’re all adults but for some reason you all act like children when you get together. You guys will be coming to me when you graduate to write a letter of recommendation or to be your reference and right now I wouldn’t do that for any of you. I know most of you can do the job just fine, but your soft skills are lacking and I don’t want my name and my reputation tied to anyone in this room.”
A heavy silence settled over the room.
“Now get your client on the table prone and begin in a nice resting position….”
Speeches like that seems to hurt more when they comes from me, because they look at me like the happy-go-lucky teacher. But they have to know, just as human beings, that just because somebody takes your crap that doesn’t give you permission to keep giving them so much crap.
*Students love to say to me while taking attendance: “I’m here I just have to go the bathroom.”
Then you’re not here!
We had our graduation ceremony last weekend, and yes, I was very proud of all the graduates, but here’s the thing: I have precious little space in my brain, so even if you were the best student in the world, the very second you step out of my classroom, you step out of my mind, too. I do feel bad about this, because I see other teachers pointing to students and saying their names and I’m just like, she was a student?
So if you show up to the ceremony having gained or lost weight, having a new haircut, wearing more makeup than usual (and they all do) or just dressed a little differently, my hippocampus Rolodex has no way to find the file with your name on it. And if expect me to remember some nickname you dreamed up for yourself, then please, continue to dream, Yaganji Buttsauceface.
But seriously, congrats to all the graduates. Whoever you are.
On and on…
Just when you think it’s all for naught and everything you’ve ever said has fallen on deaf ears (is that saying insulting to deaf people?) you get surprised by a group of students who made gifts for Teacher Appreciation Day. Some sort of coconut oil lotion (I’m sure it smells nice, but, you know, imperfect palate) and a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card.
Maybe I’m not surrounded by assholes after all.
Colonel Sanders signing out.