You Can't Undo a First Impression

When I receive a new class of students, I generally try to make a good first impression; I try to come across as fun and easygoing, but remind the students that my class will be challenging and I will reward diligence; unfortunately, this doesn't always happen . . . for a fantastically awkward pair of back-to-back examples of my worst start to a class ever, read this . . . and something similar happened two weeks ago; I had bronchitis and I missed two day of school . . . including the first day of my new Creative Writing class, so, as sub work, I gave them a fairly long New Yorker article about brainstorming to read: it's a fantastic article,  and while the first few paragraphs explain some of the history behind traditional brainstorming and how much everyone loves it, the thrust of the essay is that brainstorming doesn't work at all, and in fact, is worse than working alone; there's been a battery of psychological tests, and the research indicates that people produce the best ideas when there is healthy debate and criticism, and not a system that embraces blind acceptance of any idea at all . . . but I wasn't in school and so my students-- who had never met me and didn't know that if I give you something to read, you'd better read it-- perfunctorily read a few paragraphs of the article and then wrote a bunch of unfounded BS about how much everyone loves brainstorming, and so when I returned to school on Friday, still ailing and weak, but in school because it was a delayed opening because of snow and I didn't want to waste a sick day on a truncated schedule, and I read the pile of papers that got the thesis of the article completely wrong, I got very indignant, and-- because of the wackiness of the schedule-- I didn't have lunch at the proper time, so I brought a steaming bowl of soup to class, told the kids that they did a terrible job with the article and I was really angry because they made me read a pile of unfounded BS, gave them the article again, commanded them to reread it and do the assignment again and to type it up over the weekend and then explained to them that they had made a horrible first impression on me, and then, while they silently read the article, I slurped my soup and glowered at them . . . occasionally I stopped slurping my soup and enjoyed a phlegmy cough, and then I went back to slurping, while they read in silence . . . it was a really awkward first impression, and while we've reconciled since then (aside from the one girl who dropped the class . . . she probably thought she was dealing with a lunatic) I don't think they'll ever quite forget it or get over it.

No comments:

A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.