Friday, August 28, 2009

I have a difficult teacher!

Dear Mom:

How do I handle a difficult teacher? I can't drop the class because it's the only time I have available.


Stressed out

Dear Stressed:

I know just how you feel. I have had my share of difficult teachers; and I'm not just talking about college.

When I was in the fifth grade, I had this pretty terrific teacher. We all liked him. His name was Mr. Wilde, and we thought his name fit perfectly. We were able to goof off in class, talk loudly and pretty much do what we wanted. We must have had assignments, but I don't remember any of that. I just remember how much fun I had.

The reason I mention this story is two-fold. First, I often think a teacher is difficult in the beginning when he or she expects more than the average amount of work from me. If I see tests, quizzes and the grand final on the syllabus all of a sudden I get freaked out. If I see that I have to write a lot of papers or that the teacher expects me to be in class-every time-or even if the teacher, bless his or her heart, expects me to get an A out of the class without offering even one ounce of extra credit, let's just say I'm a bit bummed out.

And then my greater senses take over. Did I really expect to get through college without having to make an effort, even stretch a bit? What would that degree mean if I was able to slide through every class? Probably not much.

Second, sometimes the teacher is difficult because he or she gives dry lectures, or ones I can't follow. This is hard because if I don't understand it, my grades are going to reflect it.

When I was young I used to be afraid to go up to the teacher and ask a question or raise my hand in class. I thought this would make me look stupid. Now, I know that not asking that question was stupid. I know that 99.9 percent of the time the teacher will be more than willing to help me, and if they're not, someone in class will be happy to help. And then, of course, there's the Learning Center on campus where I don't have to pay one red cent for help.

In the long run you can't change your teacher, but you can change yourself. Do all you can do in class to understand the material. Ask questions. Do your homework. Study your tests. Ask for help. Do I sound just like a mother?

You've got it.


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