I can make this one short, sweet and to the point. Your attitude can easily become the sum total of the attitudes by which you surround yourself with. Period. If you take a really difficult class and surround yourself with study partners who hate the subject matter, the teacher, the class, and most of life itself, then you will never win against the Darkside. It will draw you into their web of depression and leave you sinking slowly into an abyss of dismal agony known as “Hindsight”.
Oh, you know what Hindsight is don’t you? That feeling at the end of the semester when you realize that you barely passed but you could have made an “A” had you just changed the company that you kept. Negative attitudes produce negative guidance which leads in the opposite direction of productive solutions and optimistic futures. So if your study partners look like the ones listed below, then you might want to begin to surround yourself with more positive people to take on your journey. This is a quick test: do the people that you associate with on your quest to complete your education resemble those individuals below. If so, then it’s time to draft a new dream team…
Some of my best days in the classroom happen when I help my students grasp a difficult concept and they walk away with understanding. I feel so good, that you would think that everyone actually PAID me for those services. But when they begin to nod their heads and smile with enlightenment, I feel like I just solved the worlds greatest mystery.
Your teacher is probably waiting to solve your great mysteries as well. They are anxiously awaiting to solve a problem–some of us live for this very moment. But what about those teachers who don’t answer questions? You know which ones I am talking about. The ones who reply to your answer with the ugliest attitude possible. The ones who use your question as an opportunity to ‘intellectually assault‘ you. Well, before you head to the Dean’s office to have that teacher dragged into the parking lot and canned, ask yourself these questions first:
(a) What was I doing before I raised my hand?
If you really want to annoy a teacher, then ignore them. Seriously. We’re there to facilitate knowledge by communication. We are sales associates and knowledge is our product. Ignoring us is like spitting on our product. Few things irritate a teacher like a student who has decided that they are going to text message the entire 7 minutes of discussion, and then ask the teacher the very question that they have spent 7 minutes explaining. This leads to a teacher refusing to answer questions.
(b) Do I take any interest in the subject material?
The level of interaction and educational excitement in a classroom is directly parallel to the amount of interest and interaction of the audience. As animated and excited as I get about the subject material that I teach, I can only bring but so much of my personality and ideas to the table if my class doesn’t want it. Also, if the class has no interest in the subject material, then even the best teachers will find difficulty in the delivery of the material because no one wants to receive.
(c) Am I a problem child?
I was one in my 10th Grade Biology class, however, I loved science and was really good at it. The type of problem that I am speaking of is the problem of selfishness. A selfish student can cause a teacher to debate retirement at the age of 33. A selfish student will disrupt the learning environment in a classroom because they have brought their personal life and private environment into the classroom which is conflicting with the environment of learning created by the instructor. Dating in the classroom, older students appointing themselves as den mothers of your classroom and the student who refuses to work with anyone but insists on insulting everyone are just a few types that can make your teacher your enemy really quick.
So how do I avoid my teachers hit-list?
(a) Pay Attention
Wait wait wait–before you click out of this let me explain. I have a pretty short attention span with speakers. You have about 5 to 10 minutes with me and then I officially send my mind to the land of Marvel Comics. So the pot cannot call the kettle black at this time. However, what I do to combat this actually starts before I go into any classroom. You will find it near to impossible to concentrate on anything that is not relevant to you*. If I read over the material before I get to class, Google it before class, read about it on the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) to see how the rest of the world sees it–then it broadened my view. It also made it more likely for me to engage in conversation over the material. It kept the teacher happy with me, which showed in their assistance with me inside and outside of the classroom. And that always makes your experience in that class much better.
(b) Keep the personal out of class
I once had a girl who wanted to date me. We sat together in class and she would pass me notes during class. Then I started dating her friend half way through the semester. Can you guess what life was like sitting beside her for the next two months? What’s that? Oh, yes, it was. You’re right. It was hell. You know what, whenever the personal was allowed to inhabit my educational space it turned out pretty stressful. It wasn’t always bad, but when I look back over those moments I can see where I lost precious moments that could have allowed me to understand a subject better or even gotten a higher letter grade in the class had I not been trying to get that chemical engineering student to go out with me.