I like my students. I really do.

I, in fact, like most people. It’s pretty hard to get on my bad side.

The problem is, that when you push me far enough, long enough, I don’t get grumpy. I never let on how very annoying I think you are.

In fact, for a while, I’ll even feel guilty for allowing you to annoy me.

But then I’ll snap.

Very silently, but with great vengeance.

I will invent the most insidious ways of making your life miserable—and I will do it in such a way that I come out of the encounter lily-white and you will have no one but yourself to blame. The good news is that as soon as I see your misery, I like you again. And usually I feel really bad about making you miserable and I want to make you feel better.

Yesterday, I was vexed enough to design an assignment for the grade book called “Use of Class Time”  that I knew a specific segment of the class would fail miserably, even though I have ample justification for it both in my syllabus and from my (repeatedly) stated expectations.

And then I triple-weighted it in the grade book, just for good measure.

Grades plummeted. There was much shock and awe.

Apparently they keep tabs on their grades daily. (Remember when we were kids and we found out what our grade was on the last day of school?)

Today I feel kind of bad, but I don’t know if I should: Clearly, many of them learned something valuable about future expectations. (Whether or not they live up to them is yet to be seen.)

But at that same time, I feel like maybe I am at fault, too. I allowed them to push me that far. I didn’t lay down the law at the first sign of trouble, and stick to it, day after day. Being flexible gets the kids to meet you halfway many times—but maybe I gave them too much leeway, and I’m not sure how fair it is of me to enforce rules I’ve been allowing them to bend for so long.


Next semester, I really need to be grouchier, right from the start.

(Didn’t I say that this time, last semester?)


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