Chemistry is Such a Lonely Word

A young woman showed up late to my class today  and I’m still not sure she was actually awake when she got there.

The look she gave me and my students when we said hello was one part WTF?; one part How the hell did I get here?; and one part BRRAAAAIIIINS. She never actually said hello; she just sat down.

It turned out there’d been a birthday party for one of the students and that half my class had gone to the party and had got only a half hour of sleep. Because of this, and because I kept having to tell them to leave the room if they wanted to sleep, I never developed any real chemistry with the class. (Nothing wins students over more than raising your voice to them and telling them to get out.)

I seemed to connect with a few, including zombie woman, and their group did all the required work and took time to develop their presentations. The other group, consisting of the rest of the zombie party survivors, did the bare minimum. They’d finish quickly and then sit and look bored while the rest of the class worked and took the assignment seriously.

The zombie party survivors would try to whisper in Japanese and I’d tell them they could leave which would result in more sulking. In their defense, the two guys had good English and the topic wasn’t that interesting, but I still expected them to do the work and do it correctly. I kept pointing out that when they got to the USA there’d be a lot more group work, a lot more discussions and lot more impatience than what I was expressing. Their reaction was to pretend to work for two minutes and then drift back to oblivion.

The woman grouped with the two guys seemed to sulk for the entire class and barely spoke to me. (She’d only speak to them.) I tried to mix the groups around, but they wouldn’t move. If I’d been more on my game (i.e. if I’d cared enough about them to actually give a crap) I’d have forced them to move. Instead I just let them sit.

At one point, I let them play grade school level games just to get some energy back in them. That lasted about half an hour.

In the end we were all counting the minutes to the end of class and I was kind of glad to show them my backside as I hurried out of class.

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