So the silence in my Tuesday class was overwhelming. I spent fifteen minutes trying to drag a response out of them. And I wasn't picky. I was looking for something resembling anything vaguely like a comment. Even interpretive dance would have been acceptable. Finally I covered my face with my hands and said "OK everyone take out several sheets of paper. You're going to write me an essay." Taking a cue from Edmondson (see following post for details), I decided to go the way of the one of the professors he described who used to ask his class to write two essays 1. Describe in detail the required reading you disliked the most for this class 2. Identify and describe the major personality flaw in you this dislike points to. I asked them to write two short essays. The first was a reading comprehension question utilizing the two readings. The second was....

"Explain why you can not participate in a useful discussion of the required readings in class."

I read the responses. Some were honest enough to admit they hadn't done the reading, others made ridiculous excuses ( ie "I don't want to interrupt the other students" Interrupt them doing what? Their silent meditations on the text?).

And one student wrote one sentence.


But guess what? Wednesday I didn't even mention the essays, and they talked. As one of my other ballroom teacher's would say, "You need to adopt the cookie-whip approach. Sometimes I give you the cookie; sometimes I give you the whip."

Often times I avoid such an approach. I try to be the supportive loving teacher Bleeding Heart would like me to be. But the result is that I swallow a lot of rage, and clearly the students get away with not doing the reading, which isn't good for any of us-Bleeding Heart included. So I decided for whatever reason to try being the bitch that I always fantasize about, the one that kicks out students for sleeping and doesn't accept ridiculous excuses for absences. The one who, like the Bad Buddhist, isn't afraid to rant at my students about how pathetic their "entertain me" attitude towards education is. The one who says "I can't require you to go to tutoring, but I recommend that you go, or I will beat you to death with your copy of the Bedford Guide" and really mean it. And becoming her not only resulted in the students doing their damn reading and talk about it, but also I felt a lot better. I wasn't walking around brooding and bitter. I went home that night and went to sleep at midnight. I can't remember the last time I did that.

So it is time for somebody to pass me my knee high, lace up, stack heel, black boots. Milk and cookies time is over.

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