Potentially Controversial Teaching Method

(I should preface this post by explaining that the classes I teach are hands on, so each student sits at a computer and goes through exercises, which the instructor leads from the front of the classroom. The instructor’s screen in projected for the entire class to see.)

I try to foster a relatively informal environment when I teach because in my experience it makes people feel more comfortable asking questions, which ultimately benefits the entire class. At the beginning of every class, I always say that if you have a general question, you can direct it to me but if you miss a step or your screen looks different from mine, to flag down the assistant, who will happily come help. I try to pay close attention and notice if everyone is having a problem, in which case I stop and go over the concept again. It can be very difficult to pace these classes because even though we recommend certain prerequisite skills, students’ skill levels are always varied. The trick is to back up if the majority of the class is confused but not hold up the whole group for one slow poke.

In bigger classes, like the Photoshop workshop I taught today, there always seems to be one person who wants the entire class to stop and wait every time they have a problem. They take the informality to an annoying level and just blurt out questions. When that happens, I remind the student to raise his/her hand to flag down the assistant. That happened what seemed like 100 times today, which was irritating as hell. While trying to keep my cool, I concocted a plan to deal with students like this. I think we should rig up all the workstations in the room with some sort of shocking device. Then we can have a 3 strikes policy. If a student blurts out questions after already being reminded 3 times to raise their hand, then from the master control, which will be conveniently located at the instructor’s workstation, I can shock them…or shoot hot gravy at them…or eject them from their seat. I don’t have all the details worked out, you see, but I really think I’m onto something. Thoughts?

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5 Responses to “Potentially Controversial Teaching Method”

  1. KNH Says:

    I vote for the hot gravy. Then you can claim you were just trying to feed them.

  2. Amy Says:

    I teach classes like those too sometimes. Mostly my students are too quiet. And since it’s all ppl from work and they have to take the classes, we have to help the slowpoke a lot and make everyone wait. I figure everyone else is surfing the internet anyway so what can I really do…

    You could just aim your laser pointer in the slowpoke’s eye, ya know.

  3. SweetBasta Says:

    I think that you should tell them that you will not answer that question for them, and that they will need to flag down the assistant. If they do it again threaten them that if they can’t keep up they should consider dropping the class and enrolling in remedial intro to computers or “How to overcome your fear of the brain box with the shiny screen and letter buttons”. If they ask again then you should say “Don’t you think you would have been happier with a Phys Ed credit?” If that doesn’t work, then at that point whenever they start to speak you have a deafening buzzer sound that you can use to drown out their voice and then when they stop talking you can say “Awww too bad, Thanks for playing, and here is a lovely coloring book as a parting gift”. Then as a final resort if they still don’t get it and continue to disrupt the class you could call them up to the front and have a large rubber stamp that says “FAILURE” which you could stamp on thier head, then put a strip of duct tape over their mouth and fingers and release them only after the class is finished.

    or

    I guess you could just slip a high dose tranquilizer in their drink and when they wake up tell them how impressed you were with their work in class that day. They will be too embarrased to admit that they slept through it.

  4. JayDub Says:

    OMG!! Is SweetBasta “one of us”. LoL… Memsie, your ideas for complying to class rules were good, but SweetBasta made me pee my pants loling….

  5. Bumpster Says:

    Speaking of tranquilizers have you thought about the use of a tranquilizer dart that you could shoot at the annoying individual. I know from your location in the front of the classroom you should have a good, clear trajectory to fire it at anyone at their desks.

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