Teaching Inside: April Showers Bring May Flowers (Unless You’re in Prison)

April 9

Heard today in Philosophy:

Reading, in Plato’s Republic, about a man who chose to be reincarnated as a woman.

Student (seated next to me): Whoa. Why would he want to be a woman?

*collective gasp, silence, and all eyes turn to me*

Me: Because we are phenomenal. #calm #donottryme

😂

*other students giggle in that “Dude, just shut up now” way*

Student: I didn’t mean it like that! I just meant, like, he was ALREADY a man. Why would he want to experience life as a woman?

*collective and audible disavowing of student comment*

Me: Because he wanted to do it better his second time around. #tryJesus #donttryme #speakethnotuntome

😂

Student: *pause* You right. You got that.

😂

😂

😂 I missed these guys.

April 11

Sometimes I forget all the things. I blame it on age and dissertation brain

😂

On Sunday, I was trying my absolute best to explain the concept of verb conjugation, subject/verb agreement, and why it’s important. I tried to explain the “I/You/He,She,It” set up and struggled with the explanation of the plural “you” and the only way I could think of to explain it was in French.

Like, not explain it while speaking French, but in thinking through the differences between “Tu” and “Vous”. I know it’s not EZZACKLY the same in English, but it was a start.

Anyway, as I was making my attempt at the board, saying, “In French you have these two words….” a student raised his hand and asked, “Wait. You speak French too?! Doc, what DON’T you know?”

To which I chuckled, exhaled, and said “Everything.”

Sidenote: I no longer speak French. I only remember bits and pieces

😂 I am a lost cause

April 21

Heard today in Psychology class as we talked about the ways in which we learn/encode/store new things. I asked one student, who is also in the writing class, for one of his “words of the week” to use it as an example of how we remember new things:

Me: Mr. ***, what was one of your words last week?

Student: Accomodationist.

Me: OK, cool, and what does that mean?

Student: It’s when people decide to think like White people.

*awkward silence, furtive glances of light discomfort, and then I crack up laughing*

Me: Mr. ***, that is not what that word means.

Student: It is! let me find it right now!

*student looks through all 3 of the dictionaries in the classroom and cannot find the word*

Me: *shade filled* Did you find this word in your hotep dictionary, Mr. ***?

Student: I’m going back to the dorm right now to get my dictionary!

*student exits class amid giggles and cackles from everyone, even and especially the three White students in the class*

*student returns*

Student: See! Right here! *walking to White student #1*

White Student #1: Why are you showing this to me? Is there something about Jewish people in there, too?

*cackles and laughter*

*student brings dictionary to White student #2, who happens to also be his partner for their final project*

Student: See! Right here!

White student #2: Uh,***, it says “A person who seeks compromise with an opposing viewpoint, typically a political one…”

*more cackles and White student #3 is particularly tickled*

Student: But then it says “esp. a Black person seeking compromise with a White point of view” so I was right!

White student #2: Uh,***, that is an example. A definition and an example are not the same thing.

*by this point, everybody has cracked all the way up and I have tears coming out of my eyes*

Me: So, here we have a perfect example of involuntary memory. You didn’t set forth to learn the word accomodationist today BUT I BETCHA you’ll never forget it.

Student: But I found it!

White student #3: Why didn’t you show it to me?! I’m White too!

LOLOL it never gets old with these guys.

April 28

The end of the semester is evident. The guys are restless and easily distracted but they are still hilarious as all get out! some of the highlights…..

1) After class, guys were discussing the summer term options. “Yeah, I think I’m only going to take 4 classes this term.” “I don’t know how I can balance working and taking a full courseload.” “If these 3 classes are meeting at the same time, which one do I choose? How many sections you running, Doc?”

Like, I love EVERYthing about these questions and conversations. They sound like regular college students picking class at the end of the term, trying to figure out how to balance their other responsibilities. It is all the things I have hoped for since beginning this journey.

2) A student, who works hard but has struggled since the very beginning, admitted that he had a learning difference. He didn’t want to tell me or George L. Jones because he wanted to try and do well on his own. Unfortunately, he wasn’t doing as well as he wanted and he shared that he had an IEP in school. I consider this a breakthrough. I told him we would work to identify strategies to help him retain information and that communicating his challenge was the first step.

3) There is a staunchly conservative student who, in the beginning of the semester, was JUST so, ummm, not wanting to be in the class. After some “encouragement” from a friend (i.e. “If you fail a class, in prison, that isn’t for credit, you’re a loser” ←- that is what his friend said), he did a complete 180. We rarely agree on social or political issues, but thankfully we run into very few of those in Psychology. Tonight, he said “I need to do better on these quizzes. Now that you’ve got my school brain turned back on, I can’t shut it off!”

#score

4) There is another student who has slowly, quietly, risen to the top of the group. He is around my age and has a postsecondary credential, but it has still been a while since he has been in a classroom. He has been extraordinarily diligent in his work, takes fantastic notes, and is utilizing these workshops to build his confidence as well as his cognitive capacity.

Today, his quiz grade reflected his hard work and the look of pride on his face was priceless. He and his final project partner stayed after class to chat (his partner didn’t, ummm, do as well as he did LOL) and his partner said, “Yeah. Everybody else slept on [student] but I was like nahhhh. You bout to be my partner. I know he’s not gonna let me slack off or not read them journal articles you got for us.”

This student is ALSO petty and shade filled. Sometimes, because he’s facing forward in class, I can see the sideeye he gives some people who aren’t as focused and who don’t take things as seriously and it takes everything within me to not crack into hysterical laughter. The petty in me respects the petty in him LOL