Thursday, March 13, 2014

Problem Child

I need to go to the Walmart so I can get some grocery shopping done for my mum & sister's visit. But I feel like if I wait just a bit all the crazy "I'm going to run to the Walmart on my way home from work" people will be home eating dinner, and I'll have the store all to myself. So that gives me about 30 minutes to write an honest-to-goodness blog entry.

Remember the student I wrote about last month, who made the incredibly racist comment in my public speaking class? Well, "F" has become a problem child. A thorn in my foot. A pain in the ass. The bane of my existence.

Let me explain . . . a couple of weeks after his awkward declaration in class, students gave personal narrative speeches. F chose to self-disclose that he had previously flunked out of college, been in trouble with the law and was only a month out of rehab. I felt bad for the kid. If I had only known . . .

Around the time of the speeches, I pulled F aside after class and reminded him that he needed to be on-time for our 8am class. See, I have a policy that students get 3 absences before their grade is affected. I also keep track of when they are late - 3 late appearances = 1 absence. F had already racked up 8 late appearances. When I reminded him of this policy (which I explain on the first day of class AND is spelled out in the syllabus) he freaked out. He said he was unaware of such a policy. I reminded him that he should have known. He was freaking out so bad, telling me he would never, ever be late again, that I took a deep breath and gave him a break. I told him I would ignore his previous late appearances, but any future late arrivals would be counted. He promised he would never be late again. And he kept that promise . . . for exactly 0 classes.

This past Tuesday, I again pulled him aside after class and informed him that he had 4 late appearances that would be counted against him and he needed to get to class on time. He blamed the bus for being late. I told him to catch an earlier bus. Blah Blah Blah . . . he promised to never be late again. Whatever.

Later in the morning, I received a panicked email from him, requesting a meeting with me ASAP. I had a clear hour at 1pm and told him to stop by then. He came into my office and said (I'm quoting him word-for word) "We have a test on Thursday so you have to send me all your notes and Power Point slides. I have ADD so I get special help. It's required by the university."

What. The. Fuck.

I asked him why I was just hearing about this now and why on earth would I send him information he should already have. He just stood there, looking at me with the most shocked expression on his face. "But, you have to!" he told me. Then he started in on a diatribe that lasted about 10 minutes. Here are the high points:
  • "I just never imagined you would be so unfair."
  • "I didn't know about the test until today." (Uhm, it's been on the syllabus since day 1 and I've also talked about it every class period for the last 2 weeks.)
  • "No, I don't have any documentation, but you can talk to my advisor about it."
  • "Why are you being so defensive? You are acting like you don't want to help me."
In conversations I've had with both his advisor and the SSD (Services for Students with Disabilities) office, I've learned that this kid has an excuse for everything. He's not currently registered with the SSD office, and he apparently called their office in a panic and was then so belligerent that the woman trying to help him nearly hung up on him. He is required to get reassessed every semester (his excuse? He didn't know he had to do that) and he told the SSD office he didn't have time to meet with them, and said he felt discriminated against. His advisor highly doubts he spent time in rehab (based on work history and classes he took at a community college after he was kicked out of our institution) and was not surprised that he was always late for class.

This is a kid who has learned to lie, cheat and steal his way through life and it really sucks that I'm going to be the butt of his anger when he realizes just how little he gets to manipulate me. It sucks that I'm having to document every interaction because I know, at some point, he is going to claim I had it in for him. It sucks that his parents (or whoever raised him) had a hand in making him feel that he is entitled to every exception.

Today, we had our test. He actually showed up on time. He spent the entire 75 minutes vocally yawning (I asked him to quiet down twice) and sighing loudly when he came to a question he didn't know - which was often. He asked me the definition of the following words: monologue, instantaneous and relevant. With several students still left in the room taking the exam, he loudly asked why I had made the test so hard, would there be a chance for extra credit and made it known he didn't think the test was "fair."

AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! It's already a stressful semester, but this kind of pain-in-the-ass student added on top of it is seriously stressing me out. It's hard to wear the hat of a "neutral" teacher when I personally dislike him.

So. That's my fun story of the day. Now I'm off to fight the crowds at the Walmart.

1 comment:

  1. As you know, I teach at a community college where there are several students who aren't ready for the rigor of college work for whatever reason. When they come to me individually and try to make it my fault, I USED to talk to them and then interview their advisor and SSD people, so I could deal with the student BETER. Now, I don't deal with the student at all. When they start in, I say this exactly: "Oh, wait. You mean (fill in the blank). That's not me - I'm your SPEECH teacher. I can't help you with that. You should talk to your SSD counselor/your advisor about that. Bye."