An hour of discomfort

I told my students that sections this week would be optional writing workshops - if they had questions about their papers, I would be sitting in the room where we have section for the time period that we have section. Otherwise - no discusssion this week. My 9:55 section was about what I expected - myself in a room for an hour.

When I walked into my 12:05 section, though, my hour of discomfort began. There were three students here - two of which like to ask me questions about Bush and Iraq. One student actually had questions about his paper, so he asked them and left. The other two seemed to be waiting for me to take charge and lead discussion. I told them multiple times that I'd be happy to answer any questions they had about their papers, but that they were free to leave anytime they wanted to - that there was no expectation that they were going to have to stay the whole period. After I said that, there was an uncomfortable silence (initiated by me so that they would take the not-so-subtle hint to leave), and then one of them asked me where I got my undergraduate degree. I talked about Wayne State for a couple minutes, and then asked them how their papers were coming and maybe, possibly, they might have some paper-related questions. The other one asked me what I thought of the recent events in Syria, and between Bush and Putin, and other things.

At this point I decided to change tact. I told them that I didn't think anyone else was coming and that I was going to take off. After I put my coat on, they tailed me down the hall - I ducked into the bathroom. The coast was clear.

I went back into the room so that anyone with questions about their papers could find me. Ack - who's this stranger in the room? I asked her whether she was looking for me (I'll admit that there are some of my students that I couldn't pick out of a lineup yet). She said she had a class in this room at 1:20 and was just planning to read until then. I told her what I was doing, and she said OK and put her head back into her book. I'm not going to tell her to take her Sartre somewhere else, especially since I'm pretty sure that no more of my students are coming, but now we're just two very quiet strangers sitting in a relatively small room.

No comments: