Archive: Advice to the Lost

This is for those Freshmen who are a week away from arriving on campus. Remember you have the boilerplate excuse for all things, which is good only for nine months: “Please excuse me; I am a freshman.”


I consider myself a pretty easygoing guy. Ask my students–at least those who like me–and they will pretty much agree. (At least I hope they agree.)

But the reality is, I have my limits. And those who have seen me reach those limits realize that it’s not a pretty site. I lost it over Thanksgiving when I flew to California, had an airline send my bags to the wrong city, tell me to come get them, had their offices locked when I arrived, then charged me $76 to have them delivered. Ah, but that’s another story…one that you can find elsewhere in this blog if you are so inclined.

But I digress. Today I had something happen in class that, had I not been in a good mood, might have sent me into a tirade. When it happened, I thought it was humorous. At the same time, I think it is getting old.

Ten minutes after I started my Media Law and Ethics class in Barron 105, a student opened the door and looked in the entrance. When I turned to see who it was, he stared at me, as if wondering why I was there, then closed the door. OK, so far so good. Mistakes happen.

Ten minutes later, another student did exactly the same thing. Fifteen minutes later, a third student opened the door and looked in. This was 35 minutes into the class period. Who would come to a class that late, not knowing which class they were supposed to go to? I shook my head, not understanding what was happening.

Someone might argue that people are still trying to find their classes in this, the second week of the semester. My response is this: why wait until the class is almost over to try to find it?

Yesterday, I was showing a film during my Persuasion class in the Library Classroom. I had someone come into the dark room, while the film was going, and ask if that was the Write Spot. Considering that we were showing a movie, I thought it was pretty obvious that we weren’t editing papers. I told him that the writing center had not started yet, and he needed to check back later. He then asked if the hours for the Write Spot were posted somewhere, and I assured him that they would be posted soon.

The Library Classroom is a unique situation. People know that the Write Spot meets there, but they aren’t aware that the room is used for other things. I constantly have people peering through the window or opening the door to see what is going on. Other times, I have had people come in during a class and want to print something off, even though it is clear that a class is in session.

That’s about when I as a teacher take a deep breath, and politely, but firmly, tell the student No, you cannot print your paper during my class, even if it is due in a class right now. Sorry. Learn to plan ahead, preferably before you graduate and expect the same thing of your first job.

So what’s the bottom line in all this? Mistakes happen. An occasional interruption can be handled. But three interruptions in the same class period is a bit much, don’t you think? I don’t think it would hurt students to take a little time to check their facts before interrupting a professor in mid-lecture.

I might not be so jovial next time.