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Students say the dardnest things . . .

My office is at the end of a narrow hallway that also has a men's washroom and a janitor's closet. My office looks like a closet. There's a couch where my narrow hallway meets the rest of the building, and I often over hear conversations students have on this couch. I don't think they realize how their voices carry.

So, here I am typing away at a paper and I hear a student call her father and ask for his "expertise." Not too interesting, until she asks her dad about how to read philosophy, because her philosophical issues in feminism class is looking to be really hard. Wait--that's my class. So for the past 15 minutes I've listened to the student talk about how hard the first reading is, and how she is concerned with the class, and my expectations.

So much for being the approachable teacher. The first reading IS hard. I gave the students some reading guide questions and told them which pages to focus on. I warned them it was hard and that we would get through it together. Now I feel slightly awkward, and a bit discouraged. Should I email the class another encouraging email? Should I poke my head out the door and talk to the student? should I quit assigning hard material on the first day?

I also feel kinda like Big Brother.


If it were me, I would spend some time in class emphasizing your willingness to help students during office hours. or the encouraging email, again. you cant help that you ended up overhearing this girl's conversation but maybe this is an opportunity to reach out in a defined way - not like calling her out or anything but just knowing what she's confused about might help you.

i definitely DONT think you should assign easier readings at the beginning. i think jumping in on the hard stuff is like jumping into a pool of cold water; it's a shock to the system but it makes everything else seem 'warm' (read:easier).

January 2014

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