Updated: Oct 5, 2020
My Dear Colleague,
I have been a teacher for over forty-five years and my experience is broad. And during all of those experiences, I have served as a teacher of English literature and composition. So, I have a clear grasp of what it takes to teach a diverse population of students.
My passion is teaching and helping teachers. I have had the joy of supervising student teachers and guiding newly-hired teachers on the college level. So, as I see teachers being asked to do more,
I have been considering for some time to share some supportive tidbits for my fellow colleagues. If any of you wish to ask me some questions as to how I have handled or would handle a certain situation with students, fellow teachers, or administrators, feel free to do so. If you just prefer to share some of your successes as a teacher, I do hope you do. Of course, if you just want to read, that is fine, too. I want this to be a free flow of ideas that are by educators and for educators.
What Does One Do When The Spouse Leaves at Midnight?
I have had so many experiences. In this section, I shall share one of them and offer an "after-the-fact" analysis, a reflection. Let me give you some background information. For my in-class classes, I use a marriage metaphor. Keep this in mind. I have a problem regarding students getting up and down during class times to go to the bathroom or wherever during class. I don't want you to misunderstand. I recognize that some students have health challenges that require their going to the facilities. And in most cases, they share that with me by the second week of class. Fine. I understand. I am talking about the students who leave class (leave the metaphorical home unexpectedly) to go to the john to text and have conversations with friends, family, and whomever. How did I learn this? Let me offer a time frame. When cell phones started to become more common, I recognized that folks were having "bad kidneys," or so I thought. I learned, after I shared my concern with some students during conferences, this was not a health challenge. One student, in particular, out and out told me: "Dr. Fairy, I ain't going to the john; I am answering a text since you have made it clear I should not be using my phone while in class. So, after I get a vibration, I go out and answer. That's all." I was surprised, but the mystery was solved.
So, when I began a new semester, I was very clear that there should be NO use of cells in class. If a student has a child or other loved one ill, the student can alert me at the beginning of class, and, once there is a sound indicating a text or call, the student should leave the class and see what has occurred. I asked for them to be sensitive to any classmate (academic spouse) who may have attention deficit issues or be one with autism. The students seemed to understand. Well, the next week one of my students (my academic spouses) just got up and was definitely about to walk toward the door. He must have not heard my concerns about folks just getting up and going out and missed my comments about just leaving the academic home without any explanation. So, I looked at him and said: "Do you REALLY want to leave? Do you REALLY HAVE to leave?" He looked at me and sat down. Good. However, another one of my academic spouses on my far left said: "What if he has to go to the bathroom?" I asked the spouse who had sat down, "Do you have to go to the facilities?" He responded, "Nope." I figured the issue was solved. I was wrong. That spouse who made the inquiry got up, made a pronounced prance in front of me, and went out of our academic home (the classroom). Um, I knew this was her challenging me. So, I just walked to where she was seated, picked up all of her items, book bag, textbook, notebook, and opened the door, and placed all of these items outside of the door. As I was doing this, I continued to teach. I discussed the importance of the thesis sentence and how it should be developed. I did not miss a beat. Also, I kept my eye out for that spouse, making certain no one else would take her items. Oh, the door was locked. Thus, she could not re-enter. When the class ended, I went to my office. I saw the young lady "cooling her heels" sitting in the Division Office. The secretary said to me: "Dr. Hayes-Scott, the Humanities Division's Dean wants to see you." I went to the dean's office. I had a smile on my face saying: "I know why you want to see me." The Dean asked: "What happened, Fairy?" "Well, you know I use a marital metaphor with my on-campus classes. And so, that young lady left our marital home with no reason. In other words, she left the academic marital bedroom in the middle of the night (middle of class). So, whenever a spouse leaves with no excuse at 'midnight,' I have to put the spouse out. So, I put her stuff out. That's all." The Dean smiled and asked me: "Do you want to talk to your spouse now?" "Nope. I believe she has the message. She is welcomed to come home, again, when we get together at the next marital (class) meeting." And when the class (marriage) met again (continued), she was there. And like any marriage, I was true to my word. I do not hold grudges. What happens in the past is in the past. Did she ever do that, again? Nope. Whenever she knew she had to leave early or miss a class, she just let me know. Reflection: First, let your students know upfront what you will accept and will not. Also, when you explain the reason for the expected behavior, you must be consistent and clear with your response when anyone acts inappropriately. No arguing, no confrontation, the instructor should just react calmly and cooly and decisively. This provides all of the spouses a clear example as to what will occur if anyone else exhibits such behavior. It is important that the instructor knows she will have the support of her superior. I knew I would after I made an explanation. It is so important that I had a superior who knew I was devoted to my students (spouses), but I would not take any foolishness. As one of my other students shared with me during a conference, "Dr. Fairy, we knew when she got up and walked out, we knew you were going to do something. And you did. You continued to teach the lesson, and you gave another lesson----don't mess with your spouse, Dr. Fairy." And no one else did.
OK, I will have more Professor in Print posts coming soon. Until then, Sunrises and Sunsets, Dr. Fairy
Have a question about our students? Or would you like a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Hayes-Scott? If so, contact her via email at Dr_C_Consultant@aol.com. Otherwise, feel free to comment on the post.