Humans, their interactions, and the dynamics we find ourselves in are often complex and sometimes downright messy. Especially when others have impacts on us, negative ones, it suddenly becomes hard to remember that they are also just humans at the core, just like us.
I am in my second to last class for my Master’s degree. It has been a fairly smooth road, as many told me it would. Since returning to school as an adult I have been very good at “doing school”. That’s not to say I’ve had some really challenging classes, which are of course usually the most rewarding in the end. And I don’t mean it as bragging to say that I’ve never earned anything less than an A in any class. Most classes earning 100% of the points offered. I only mention that because this second to last class is extremely frustrating to me, and the human reason for this frustration is the professor.
We are about at the halfway point. So far I’ve been dinged points on a discussion assignment for not responding to the two posts I was supposed to respond to on different days. Ok, this is my second to last class and every class has had discussion assignments identical to this: initial post by Wednesday, respond to two other posts by Sunday. Every week, for the whole program. But it is in the fine print of the rubric, ding me the points. But, another spot in the rubric gives points for “following all directions” so, double ding. In most classes the final is worth like 100 points. This is week 4 and we’ve already had three 100 point assignments and two 75 pointers. AND there is always a max word count of either 200-300 or 400-500. I have edited and erased more words than I have actually turned in! And then I lose points for not “expanding” more. Like, what?!
The last two weeks there were papers to be written with topic choices. In the directions and in the rubrics for both it says we are to write about the topic she assigns us individually. She never assigned anything anywhere. I wrote a quick email asking her for a little help understanding this and a few other points of the assignment which were clear as backseat kid windows even after many many read-throughs. Instead of helping she scolded my lack of appropriate grammar in my email and said that’s why she couldn’t help. I didn’t capitalize. That’s all. I have spoken casually in emails like this to every prof I’ve had so far. She didn’t have answers because there were none. Frustrating.
At the start of each week’s module, many teachers record and post videos of themselves. Explaining the week, I’d assume. I never watch them because I understand how to follow concise directions fairly well and I have stuff to do. But this week, this lady? I was intrigued. She told a story about the recent death of a loved one. She went into horrific and graphic detail at times, and made things even more chilling when she would be vague about other parts. She cried. It was almost like a confessional of sorts. It made you feel like this was the first time she was able to get it off her chest.
I’m not saying she’s not usually a frustrating teacher, I have no idea. Especially teaching the second to last class of a program where everyone is acclimated to the way things generally go. But I was slapped across the face anyways with a reminder that she is very much human. I told her she was brave and thanked her for sharing. Then, for the first time in almost 2 years taking the same coursework with the same people, commenting on at least two of their discussion posts per week, I reached out to a few and we all exchanged numbers and will be helping each other navigate this second to last class. You know, like humans.