It's tough to be an introvert in an extrovert world, especially in an extrovert's profession, like teaching. Through this blog, I'd like to share my own and others' reflections on being an introvert in the classroom. This isn't a place for misanthropes or grumps, though; I hope to thoughtfully discuss the challenges that introverts face in schools and celebrate the gifts that introverted teachers and students bring to the educational environment. If you can relate, please join me!

Friday, December 21, 2012

I don't want my students punching each other.

That should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway. If you're a teacher, you know why I feel compelled to offer disclaimers such as that.

However, since no punches were actually thrown in the incident I'm about to describe, and I can therefore now look at it humorously, I'd like to tell this end-of-semester story.

The only name I can think of for the phenomenon to attribute this incident to is "group-work rage." Like road rage, but for group work. If you're reading this blog, you were most likely at one time or another the smart, diligent kid in the group who got stuck picking up the slack for one or more not-so-concerned members of some group you had to do a project with in your K-university experience. You know the frustration of this game of academic chicken. They know you will crack and do their work for them, so they wait you out and do nothing. And you look like a chump, but what can you do? Tattle on them? It might temporarily feel good to rat them out, knowing the teacher might lower their grade, but you'd probably also feel like a coward for going behind the person's back.

In short, you probably really wanted to punch them. And one of my students almost did. After a sort of calling-out that involved some profanity, the high achiever actually asked the student whose work was "eh" to "take it outside." To the academically "eh" student's credit, he was mature enough to refuse. The frustrated high achiever immediately apologized and I definitely had long talks with both parties.

But on the plus side, the high achiever had the guts to tell the other student to his face that his work was not as good as the rest's. That's something, especially if you, as I do, have memories of the cattiness of some suburban high achievers who order what my eleventh-grade English teacher called their "mommy-lawyers" to call to complain about whatever displeases them at school, or who, in the wake of earning a B, plot in the hallways to get their teachers fired.

The recent incident's high achiever was not like that. He was a hard-working kid who came to office hours for help revising every essay. I know that he works extensive hours outside the classroom.

Because of that, and maybe because I am a super-old-fashioned person, some part of me was impressed that this high achiever was actually willing to take a few hits to uphold the quality of work in my class. There's something about a man willing to fight for his honor, for my honor.

So, to this would-be, knight in shining book-armor, I say that you that you must not act on your urge to punch your group-mates. But I appreciate the sentiment behind it. You literally stood up for smart kids doing group work everywhere.

I've also been watching a lot of E! News.

I'm not too proud to admit it.

I also confess that I've become an avid follower of E! News host Giuliana Rancic's reality show, Giuliana and Bill. Yep, I've been following the whole saga of failed IVF, breast cancer, and now baby Duke's arrival.

Aside from the obvious draws of such a show (winking smiley face), I think I like following Giuliana's story for another reason as well: I like that a girl with a Masters degree gets to wear designer gowns and is routinely followed around by a bevy of girls (hair/makeup/personal assistants) who would probably have made fun of her in middle school, what with her scoliosis and Italian accent. (I learned all this from her E! True Hollywood Story.)

So when she showed all of said assistants her pretty new house, and asked, "Sick, right?!" I was all like, "You go, smart girl!"

I need a band.

Now that vacation is here, I'm on my natural sleep schedule, which means I get to watch all my favorite TV friends without DVR: Chelsea, Conan, Jay, Jimmy. As I watch all my favorite late-night shows, it occurs to me that I want the kind of production support that they have:

First, I would like a warm-up guy to get my audience in a good mood before I get there.

Second, I would like a make-up touch-up person to run up and fix my lipstick every ten minutes.

Third, I would like a band to provide regular breaks for me so that my audience can stay in a good mood while I get my make-up fixed. 

Neil Postman laments how everything, including education, is compared to television, and how we should immediately stop this, but what if he's wrong? Maybe education should be treated MORE like a TV show. After all, TV gets all this money and respect and it allows them to put on some amazing productions. Imagine how much I could do if I had a personal assistant!