My nerves are bad. Really bad. It’s the end of the semester. Finals week. It should be renamed “Finally Over Week.”
This is the time of the year that I become righteously indignant. B**ching and moaning about how I nearly went blind trying to grade papers and developed carpal tunnel syndrome from answering and sending endless emails.
When I was in school…
When I was in school…I was AWFUL. I went to class every other week. Why? Because….I needed the rest? I don’t know really what was going on in my young, twisted mind. Everything and everyone was a distraction. The snow. The cold. The sun. The rain. General Hospital. All My Children. Vintage clothing stores.
My name is Carla Thompson and I am a recovered shopaholic.
I didn’t know what was going to be on the Spanish test but I could tell you where to get a great black dress for $10.
I even had the nerve to play cards — bid whist to be exact–during finals week. And I partied like the superstar I imagined myself to be.
My grades reflected my lack of effort. I received 2 D’s in Calculus and a smattering of C’s in chemistry which really put a kabash in my plans to become a doctor. (Any regrets? Hell, no! Remember, I was the chick who dreamed of sequenced gowns, not gross-green scrubs.)
Since pre-med was a no-go, I decided to major in communications studies. And because it didn’t involve math or science, I thought it would be a breeze. And yes it was — a stiff, cold breeze.
There was a lot of talk about communication theory and very little about its practical application. YAWN.
One bright spot: In a couple of classes, I did get watch television shows and movies. Well, truthfully, I can’t really say I “watched” much of anything. I had a bad habit of falling asleep during the films/shows. Lights out. Nap time. I’d awake, if I was lucky, just before the credits started rolling. I’d wipe the drool off my face and try to take notes on what I had “seen.” Needless to say, my seeming narcolepsy made writing papers with detailed analysis more than a bit dificult.
Since I love telling stories — especially ones where I am the main character –I sometimes share tales of my academic shortcomings with my students.
One day after class, one of my students wanted to talk with me about the challenges he was having with his team members. By they way, in academia as in the workplace, team/groups projects are all the rage. And most students despise them. And for very legitimate reasons. It’s a rare team in which everyone pulls his weight. And members spend a great deal of time dealing with unproductive conflict or just plain unproductivity.
With a team, it’s always something. My poor student complained that the group had scheduled meeting time and location to work on the project and everyone but him was a no-show. No one called. No one emailed.
I was feeling his pain. I started, “When I worked in teams when I was in school…” Hold up. Wait a minute. I had to stop myself. As I recalled, I was the team member from hell. I did the minimal amount of work and my contribution reflected my half-assed effort. I am sure we had meetings, but I don’t remember attending any. What could I have been doing? Oh, yeah. Shopping.
I admitted to him that I was awful too. We had a nice laugh as I patted him on the back and encouraged him to keep trying. FYI: Once your on a team, you are togther for life (or just for the life of the class). Don’t even think about asking to switch teams. I don’t care if you scratch each others’ eyes out. Just get the assignment done.
I often wonder what would I do if I had me as a teacher. I can see myself walking into class looking at the me as if I was crazy, thinking to myself, “What’s up the scarf? Does she own a pair of shoes? And who does she think she is trying to be funny? Ain’t nobody laughing at her crazy behind. ”
I’d read the syllabus –several pages of detailed information including numerous assignments. I’d have some pissy look like, “Is she for real?” on my face and would try to enlist others in my dissatisfacttion. (In my younger days, I was one for starting sh**t. And then of course, walking away like nothing happened.)
After being dismissed for the day, I would go to the registrar’s office and drop the class.
I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to escape karmic destiny. I am surprised how wonderful and attentive my students are. They make me look good and most of the time, feel good too. Oh sure, there are some slackers, but for the most part, they show up for class and try their best — often in spite of tremendous personal obstacles.
So what I am complaining about?
Don’t mind me. I just needed to vent. Couple of weeks off and I’ll be ready to do it all over again.