Well, I Don’t Like You Either!

My Biology teacher smirked with a rather fulfilled look on his face. He had gotten a one up over me. He had finally made me pay for my acts of classroom disruptions, sarcastic remarks and constant tardiness. And I was on the receiving end of a week in lunch time in-school detention.class-clown-2-thumb192682

So I guess you’re wondering how this happened, huh? Well, I had always been a pretty quick thinker and I had a habit of saying the right funny thing at the right funny time. It was a gift. But for some reason I decided to make my 10th grade Biology teacher the primary target of my humor rather quickly due to his constant corny and often repeated jokes. His ties were his pride and joy of his dress attire and they never matched–ever. Also, I showed up late to his class almost everyday because my transportation to school arrived late almost everyday. So it appeared that I was doing it on purpose. When he said things in class, I would make a remark or sound affect that would leave the class rolling in the isles but with him absolutely clueless as to whether or not we were laughing with him or at him. But he wasn’t as clueless as it seemed.

As I continued to rack up insults and side jokes he had been filling out tardy slips and storing them in his desk drawer. Somehow, someway, he was able to take all 30 of these tardy slips and have a administrative assistant to translate them into an case file that was the equivalent of an offense that required 5 days of in-school detention. Don’t ask me how he did it, but he did it. He had been collecting these slips over the course of several months too.danger-teacher-bad-mood

So one day, I walked into class late for a test, and he actually started the bantering match with me first. In my youth and ignorance I bantered back about his tie, took my copy of the test to my seat and began taking the test. Once I had finished and brought it to the front to turn in I made one more comment just loud enough for others to hear and laugh. That’s when he made the comment that I will never forget: “Hey, that was pretty funny. Oh, aren’t you forgetting something?”detention notice

And that was when he gave me the smirk. I looked down at the slip of paper and I quickly saw the “Detention” written in red. I was in shock. I began to ask if it was a joke. He smiled back and said “Oh no, I can assure you that it is real.” I quickly ran out of the classroom to the administration office during class to find out if this was some sort of joke. It was real. I had detention. And when I walked back into that classroom, he burst into laughter, “Looks like I had the last laugh after all, huh?!?”

Detention at that school was actually dangerous, because the gang members who were in trouble¬† committed offenses to get put into detention for safety so that they wouldn’t get jumped by other gangs during lunch. So you basically had a room full of rival (angry) gang members locked in one room who all believed in the torture of guys like me. MI-064-0266I would have rather been publicly flogged during a pep rally in a Rainbow Bright outfit. At least the only thing that would have been assaulted would have been my dignity and reputation.

I watch students do similar things in their classes and then sit in wonderment as to how they drew the wrath of their teachers upon them. They struggle to find words to explain why they do not feel “comfortable” approaching their teacher for help–when they know exactly WHY they feel this way. Making your instructor the enemy is always easy to do. We make them the enemy of our crusade in education because they are of a different race, a different gender, a different socioeconomic group or maybe because they have different standards and lifestyles. But sometimes the truth is that we make them the enemy because we have misplaced our frustration which was created by the stress of current circumstances. They happen to be the one’s of authority who cannot fire us or disown us or arrest us at that time and so we place them on the bottom of the totem pole of honor, thereby leaving them to receive our daily provision of ire and dissatisfaction.

It was this sort of misplaced blame that I used as a cop-out while struggling in college courses. Some of those instructors did not deserve my disrespect and lack of commitment to grasping the material. So before you begin to join the others of your class with heckling, whispering and slightly over-the-top teacher -bashing, try to make sure that your strong intent on participating in this behavior is not being driven by your lack:

1) lack of understanding of the material

2) lack of understanding of your teacher

3) lack of seeing the relevancy of the course material

4) lack of open communication between the instructor and the student

5) lack of sleep (yes, for some, sleep is the difference between them and satan himself)

6) lack of a previous background in the current material

7) lack of self confidence

8 ) lack of support

9) lack of control over personal circumstances

10) lack of direction

“Why Didn’t You Tell Me That?!?”

When I arrived at college, I had a few upper classmen who attempted to teach me how to study. I think that they made a great gesture of servitude towards me. However, it didn’t work. It wasn’t their faults at all, it was just that I never made the steps to learn how I studied best.

For example, I hate memorization. Yes, it is true that there are somethings that you must simply memorize and I teach this to my own students. Yet, there are many things that would stick if it were simply relevant. Take the code for 30 extra men on the 1987 8-bit Nintendo smash hit Contra. I couldn’t beat that game with the measly 3 men–oh, for those of you who do not understand, a “man” is a turn or chance that you have in order to beat the game. Three men means three turns before the game is over and you are left to start all over again. So, when I learned of this code for 30 extra men–er, I mean–30 extra turns, I couldn’t forget it. It was relevant to me as a child and I could do the code with my eyes closed. As a matter of fact, I have done the code so many times that I STILL remember the code! The point of this story is actually two-fold:

One of the most difficult yet enjoyable games to date of old school gaming
One of the most difficult yet enjoyable games to date of old school gaming. It's difficulty sparked my desire to remember valuable information to make my experience more enjoyable. What are you doing to make your classroom experience more enjoyable?

(a) Find the study method that makes information relevant to you. If it isn’t relevant, then it will not be on a level of information that demands focus and attention. You will not remember otherwise.

(b) Give yourself time with the information. Some things require a few minutes of your time while others require hours. How do you know the difference? Simple…which one will you use often, which one will you be using soon, and which one will you use only for that particular class? In otherwords, if you are in a Biology class, then the concepts of cells should be concepts that you spend adequate time on due to the fact that it is a building block of information for understanding Biology. The same would go for viruses and bacteria in Microbiology, or a synthesis reaction in Organic Chemistry. However, if the information is not something that builds understanding for information of tomorrow and information yet to come, then be careful as to how much of your time that it begins to eat away. And always ask your instructor about the concpets relevancy and have them clarify why it is important to know.

No Love For Losing In The End: How Do I Avoid Last Minute Failing?

There are so many ways to keep from failing a class due to waiting until the last minute to study. However, having graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Ph.D in Procrastination Science and Last Minute Engineering many of these great ideas fell flat for me. There was one that did help curb my issue a bit, and my GPA sharply improved for it.

“Start Every Endeavor With The Final Prize In Mind”: Thinking about what I could have if I graduated made me dream of passing difficult classes. But those dreams began to fade as organic chemistry reactions filled my mind. I needed something more substantial. This is when I created a Dream Wall. dreaming

Everything that I–not my parents, not my girlfriend, not my friends, not my teachers, not my pastor, not my congressman–wanted to truthfully obtain that required my success in my current situation went on that wall. Lot’s of guys had pictures of women on their wall, but I only had one picture of one woman. She had no name, and she was tastefully dressed. But she was posing with a wedding ring on her finger. My dream was to be married–but to have an education that would allow me to be able to support that person, and that they would be just as happy with me as that woman in the photo. I needed that photo as positive reinforcement when one of the members of my advisiong committee added an entire year of extra research to my plate before he would sign off to allow me to present my reserach. You must find somethig that motivates you to “do” more than the situation motivates you to “quit”. If you don’t, then failure can remain an option.