Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I Showed My Ass

When you act obnoxiously in public or do something you later regret, or just in general act like an idiot, friends of mine call that, "Showing your ass." Typically, it relates to an angry outburst at an inappropriate person in an inappropriate situation. But I think it can also mean teaching class really badly and then basically saying, "Eff it. Okay you guys, here's the deal. We moved this weekend, I haven't slept in days, and to demonstrate the severity of how my mind is not functioning, I can tell you that this morning, I showered with my glasses on - and NOT on purpose! - which I've never done in my life. So, tonight's class will be brief (and it was; I ended 45 minutes early AND gave them two 10-minute breaks), and I need you to understand that I may not make a lot of sense tonight."

I WISH I hadn't done it. But I botched up the lecture on the sex differentiation process during fetal development and a STUDENT had to stop me. She was VERY sweet and VERY polite and she said, "Um, you're telling us that it's genetic, than hormonal, then gonadal. But the book says it's genetic, gonadal, then hormonal. I guess the hormones trigger the development of the gonads?" She was right. And I was so horrified. I have taught this lesson FIVE times now (tonight was the sixth) and I have NEVER effed it up like that. And of course, what with my recent obsession with snarky course evaluations, all I saw in front of my eyes was "She was the most psychotic professor I have ever had," or "Clearly needs Ritalin - she's a total spaz." Or the one that makes my heart stop:

She doesn't know what the hell she's talking about.

It's only our third class meeting, I feel like I lost TONS of credibility. And here I thought sleep deprivation only effed with your short term memory - at the beginning of the class I'm taking right before the one I teach, I handed a friend a pen. I have zero recollection of that. She handed it back to me at the end of the 3-hour class and I looked at her like she was crazy. "Why are you giving me that?" She said, quite politely, "You gave it to me." It was a generic Bic pen. "No, I didn't." Still polite she said, "Teacher Lady. Really. You did." I took the pen. I still feel like I stole it. My point? Sleep deprivation also effs with your long-term memory, too.

I made a HUGE second mistake and explained gender, gender identity and gender role completely backwards. Mixed them all up. And I had my notes right in front of me, and I felt like I was reading Latin whenever I tried to look at them, so I was just "wingin' it." After I was able to focus on my notes and realize I had taught them something wrong for the SECOND time in about, oh, 25 minutes, I showed my ass. That's when I gave my speech. And throughout the class, I just kept making mistakes (at least not you know, informational ones - more like being unable to speak basic English words, differentiating between left and right, and failing to understand a group's clever joke about the activity we did. Like literally. They had to EXPLAIN the joke to me. Normally, that's not the case.) And after each flub, I would then shake my head and mutter to myself, "You need to call it a night."

WHY did this happen during the THIRD class meeting? If this had happened in 6 weeks, at least I'd have a little credibility and they'd know I wasn't a complete idiot. And I was talking quickly and having trouble saying basic words and now all I can think is, they're going to write, "Total spaz who should not be permitted in the classroom."

And to make matters WORSE I looked even MORE like a spaz and told them (quickly) all the details of my personal life regarding said move. I even told them I think we have a ghost in our new place, which I don't even WANT to believe, but some weird things happening just make me wonder. I do not want to be THAT professor. The one who uses his "Adult Development in Education" course to talk about his divorce as "meaningful real-life examples." And if the divorce weren't bad enough, he then talks about the DETAILS of the divorce. I've had a few of those professors. And nobody likes or respects them and CERTAINLY nobody wants to be them. I am so wired, and so jittery, and so distracted and disoriented that I wouldn't be surprised if they thought I was a cocaine addict. Spazzing out in class tonight was NOT professional and ALL the professors I admire and respect would have NEVER done that. NE. VER. Not in a million years. In a nutshell, I acted like a high-strung poodle and did everything a high-strung poodle would do expect piddle on the new carpet.

Really. I showed my ass.



Blogger firstcitybook said...

As someone who has known sleep deprivation for years, particularly when raising an infant while earning a PhD in English, I can tell you the secret to mental alertness is a daily dose of ginseng, bee pollen, and b-complex 150. These things are all legal and can be found at the local discount store. I also take lecithin and vitamin c daily.

September 18, 2006 11:14 PM  
Anonymous silliyak said...

Well you didn't piddle on the carpet (as best as you can remember) so you've definitely got THAT going for you. It can certainly be used in your defence. It's too bad about the Dean showing up mid class on his random check on classes.

September 18, 2006 11:37 PM  
Anonymous Antique Mommy said...

Having been a professional student most of my adult life, my guess is that no one will remember after the next class because a) it's early in the semester, and b) as students, we are mostly only into ourselves and rarely notice or care about anything not directly related to us. And I always thought that days like that were why teachers suddenly showed a film.

I did have a teacher once who literally showed his ass. His pants caught on the chalk ledge and ripped wide open. It was seriously funny. He was kind of a spaz, but it was part of what made him a great and memorable teacher.

September 19, 2006 4:35 AM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

Aw, Teacher Lady - don't sweat it! We all have times like that. ("WHY did I DO THAT?!?") You've got the rest of the semester to remind them that you are NOT that person. It was a fluke. Now go get some sleep, woman!

September 19, 2006 7:44 AM  
Blogger Fraulein N said...

Aw, poor thing. I'm going to repeat what I said in the comments on the previous post: you need some sleep.

At least you explained yourself, so they know why you were screwing up and didn't think it was the Real You. Plus, you'll be on your A-game for the rest of the semester, so they'll realize it was out of the ordinary behavior for you.

You may want to can the ghost talk, though. You don't want to be that professor.

September 19, 2006 9:23 AM  
Anonymous DeAnna said...

I spent quite a few years in college. Certainly more than the standard 4 to get my BA. So I've had a few differnt types of professors. It seems that possibly your taste and mine differ about professor's behavior. While the recently divorced prof (or the one with father issues that he wanted to tell everyone about, even though he was at least 50 years old) was indeed very annoying, that's not the same as the professor's who are just willing to keep it real. I have far more respect for a professor who is willing to share some part of themselves with the class. If I wanted information delivered in a sterile package, I would take exclusively online courses.

You might have noticed that college students rarely have all their shit together. I had a lot easier time relating to (and admiring) professors who obviously were juggling full and real lives outside of class, and who still mostly managed to keep their shit together. Those were far more useful role models for me than the ones who went around with their Perfect Professor mask on all the time.

I'm not saying your preference is wrong, just that you could keep in mind that not everyone is going to see your actions the way that you see them.

September 19, 2006 9:40 AM  
Blogger MizMell said...

If you truly were as whacked out as you portrayed, my guess is the students will think you are "real" and "totally cool."
Sometimes you need to shake things up a bit, to make sure they're paying attention.

September 19, 2006 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You shouldn't stress yourself over this. There is plenty of time remaining to redeem yourself and your students will respect you just that much more in the end. You showed them that you too are a real person with a life not involving school. Students forget that sometimes, it's hard to imagine a professor outside the confines of the classroom. What? You watch tv too??! I personally have a strong distaste for cardboard professors. Show me some personality, damn.

September 19, 2006 11:33 AM  
Blogger Miss Britt said...

Here's the good news.

They are in college. They see a lot of asses. Yours will soon be forgotten. :-)

September 19, 2006 1:54 PM  
Anonymous RacerX said...

Don't flog yourself. Here at dumbass junior/technical college, I consider talking with conviction and a stentorian tone the equivalent of truth. So do they. Who cares? At the end of the day, I'm one step closer to retirement. But I lost my idealism long ago.

Just gave my first test that had a dictionary page on it, with the directions to give the number of syllables in a word. Two people got it wrong! Can we fix that? Only with genetic engineering . . .

September 19, 2006 2:58 PM  
Blogger desiree said...

Did I not tell you to get some damn rest? Do you not listen to internet strangers? Sheesh. It is like you igonore advice from people you have never met before, what am I to do with you?

Don't beat yourself up too hard. You will be able to make up for it in the future and on the plus side now if some jackass student missed 4 classes and expects hand holding you can be all "no, I'm waaaaay to inept to handle it" and have this class as proof. See? You didn't show your ass, you covered it!

September 19, 2006 3:18 PM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

On the bright side, you now know that at least some of them are reading the text. Given the number of times I'm stopped during class to spell things, I'm pretty sure my kids aren't! And I do agree, the infrequent human moment probably isn't going to destroy their faith in academia :)

September 19, 2006 3:31 PM  
Blogger happychyck said...

Doesn't everyone love the eccentric professor? No worries. You'll be fresh next time and they'll quickly forget!

September 19, 2006 6:27 PM  
Blogger ProfessorDog said...

Sounds rough! Ending the class early was definitely the better part of valor. As others have said, you'll show them that you aren't really a total ditz in future classes. Me, I teach one class way earlier in the morning than I'm biologically equipped to be up and about. By the second class, I'm usually reasonably alert. Then I go home and take a nap, and come back to teach the third. So two out of three classes, every damn day, I've just rolled out of bed and I'm standing up there trying to figure out where my ass *is*. It's a problem. But I haven't lost my job yet.

BTW, I have a new nutjob in one of my classes--a possible replacement for The Girl God Sent? You can read all about her over at the blog, after you've gotten some rest!

September 19, 2006 10:43 PM  
Blogger Bethel said...

Well, I'd rather hear about your ghosts than to have had to endure my chemistry prof's description of how wonderful, beautiful and natural his morning BM on his outhouse throne is.
And even with that mind numbing mental picture, I still like him and think he's a good professor. A large part of what makes him a good professor is the fact that he's not one bit afraid to show he's human. Maybe he could stand to show a tiny bit less of his humanity.... :-p

September 20, 2006 2:21 AM  
Blogger Veronica Mitchell said...

As a student, I always respected the professors most who could take the occasional (accurate) correction from a student and move on. It shows character and a commitment to truth. The bad teachers - the ones who lost respect - were the ones who put saving face before teaching. So it sounds like you did just fine. What's a little ass?

September 21, 2006 9:31 PM  
Blogger cole edwards said...

You are a crack up. I like the term "showing your ass". It is well suited to the activity you describ. I will use it, in your name hence forth.
I like poodles, BTW.xxoo

September 24, 2006 11:21 AM  

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