Friday, September 28, 2007

(One) Of the Worst Classroom Exprences of My Life

Ever have that dream where everything seems to be going wrong? Where by the end people are laughing at you and you run crying from the room?

I had one of those today, only I didn't wake up to find it was only a dream, because it wasn't a dream.

We received back our first papers in my Crusades course today. I'm always nervous over the first paper back from any Professor, and I'm sure many others are as well. Well, let me back up. We had they 'why everyone did poorly' talk for a half-hour then at the end of class actually got our papers.

Though saying that isn't very fair to our Professor, who really was trying to help us and I knew that. I knew that. I knew that I probably did fine, first papers are always the lowest grade. The Professor only wanted us to understand why, when we received our papers, we had the grades we did. I knew the reason we didn't get them back until the end was so we would pay attention and not be looking at our papers.

Knowing all this didn't keep my nerves to act up more than a Victorian woman with a tendency to faint. My hands were shaking, my entire body felt ready to burst, and I wanted to just beg for my paper back. At one point I fled the room for a few minutes just to try to get myself back together. Finally almost at the end I asked if I could just please have my paper back because I was freaking out, and people started laughing. It might have been only one or two, and from what my Professor told me in email the guy thought I was being funny, but it felt like the whole room was laughing at me. I freaked out more, said something and ran from the room so fast the door slammed into the wall. Luckily I very nice (and kick ass) English woman from one of my other classes was out in a alcove studying, she calmed me down and got me to look at my grade (b+), and generally saved me from going into the bathroom to cry.

I'm horrible embarrassed by my behavior, and I've already apologized to the Professor (who is wonderful and email me first to make sure I was okay) in email for my behavior which was immature and distributive. I will go to class Monday. My question is do I apologize to my classmates for being distributive? And do I have any business thinking I can be a Professor one day when I can handle something like this?


heu mihi said...

To answer your last question first: Yes, you can still be a professor one day! Clearly, you care a lot about your studies, and that's where this was coming from. Don't be too hard on yourself--it was a moment of stress, that's all. (And a B+, by the way, is great for the first paper in a course.)

If I were you, I probably wouldn't apologize to the other students (but that might just be me). You could try just laughing it off or--what's sort of the same thing--apologizing in a "hey, sorry I freaked out on you guys" kind of way--making light of the situation. For what it's worth, it seems very likely to me, given your description of the event, that the laughing wasn't mean-spirited or really *at* you: honestly, I could see someone saying what you did in a humorous way, and that's probably how they took it. Or they were laughing because it was a surprising thing for someone to say.

I'm sorry you had such a bad day!

Anniina said...

They were probably laughing, because you were the one who said what most of them were feeling. And yeah, go back as if nothing happened. No need to apologize. I think most of the people knew exactly what you were feeling, having been there at some point themselves. And those who didn't understand wouldn't appreciate the apology anyway. Don't be embarrassed. I think you'll make a fine professor some day :)

Conrad said...

That sounds like a clean cut panic attack to me and not a deliberate act of sabotage or attention seeking. It's something to do with the wait - and as the adrenaline kicks in it gets harder and harder to sit and and not act. I get this something in the strangest of places like wating for a bus or standing in a lift! I'll let you know when I find out the cure :)

Sceopellen said...

I wouldn't worry about it my dear, simply brush it off and keep going! If academia is really where you want to go, then being overly nervous about grades is nothing to be concerned about.

Allow yourself to enjoy your work, and don't worry so much! Grades do matter, but enthusiasm and passion is much more important than anything else. Remember to enjoy yourself and not stress out too much - you'll just find it harder in the end!

History Geek said...

Thanks to everyone for the kind and encourging words.

Hei Mihi, Anniaa - Yeah, I don't think anyone that was laughing doing it to be curel. I think it was a stressful class everyone that day and it was probably funny if you didn't know I was really upset, and really how could they?

Conrad- Or at least meds that don't have side effects that are worse than the panic attacks!

Sceopellen- I get tunnel vision over my grades sometimes I think. I wonder if it would have been easier when I was younger to handle some of this.

Anonymous said...

Don't apologize. There is no need. Honestly, and this is not meant as a slight, I doubt they thought much of it. They have their own lives to obsess over.

An anecdotal analogy, if I may. A few years ago I was walking around Boston with my uncle when a Cadillac quickly pulled to the curb 20 feet up ahead. The passenger door swung open and a man vomited profusely onto the sidewalk. My main thought was, "He must be having a tough afternoon". We all have those moments, try not to feel self-conscious about it.

Passion is an important characteristic for the ideal Professor. You seem to have plenty of it, if this incident is any indication :)