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Author Topic: Embarrassing teaching moments  (Read 5107 times)
luvstowrite
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« on: July 02, 2009, 2:56:39 pm »

Hi all,

A previous post in another topic prompted this one...I'll start.

I teach large jumbo lectures of intro and could not for the life of me figure out how to turn the classroom lights on. I had visited the room the previous week to see its location but didn't really grasp the whole where-is-the-light-switch concept, which is up hidden by the podium near the smart classroom controls.

Thank God a student had a little flashlight in his backpack and came to the rescue before the entire class arrived. I felt totally stupid and we all had a good laugh. The students who were there have since graduated but I still remember that oversight when I teach in that classroom. What an embarrassment!

Others?
« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 2:58:31 pm by luvstowrite » Logged

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peitho
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2009, 3:01:12 pm »

Early one semester, I was thrilled to get some new, colorful dry erase markers.  I spent one class writing all over the board, then went to erase. 

To my shock and horror, the work study I sent for the dry erase markers earlier that morning had given me permanent markers instead!

I don't know what the class thought of me, but I was mortified!  Of course, once I explained, everyone thought it was a hoot...
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johnr
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2009, 3:02:07 pm »

In my many, many years of teaching in front of thousands of students, and my countless hours of lecturing in strange and confusing classrooms, and in my thousands of encounters with the latest techno-gizmos, I've never had one embarassing moment.

No, not one. Never. Nope.
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zuzu_
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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2009, 4:19:05 pm »

(This traumatic event happened to me a few years ago. I wrote it down into this little story and never did anything with it. Seems like a good time to share it.)

I’m sitting at the front of the room shuffling papers and pretending to write in my gradebook—sort of like the TV news anchors do after they’re finished talking and before they cut to commercial. It’s my first day teaching a writing seminar at a highly selective technical university, where I’ve just been hired as an adjunct lecturer. I’m a pretty confident person, but this class has got me a bit rattled. I’m a youngish female, often mistaken for a student, and this class is 95% male. Plus, they’re all in the manufacturing/mechanical engineering program, which means they aspire to design either vehicles or weapons. They’re also in what’s called a “learning community,” which means they take all of their classes together. At the learning community workshop I took over the summer, they warned us that these groups sometimes take on the group dynamic of a pack of wild animals—specifically, tigers. Groups of tigers are called a “blaze,” and they call this the “Blaze Program.” So I’ve got a blaze of guys obsessed with engines and/or guns who likely have little interest in this touchy-feely humanities class.

It’s about five minutes before class actually starts, and I realize I’ve left the worksheets in my office, which is in the next building over. Now I am a hard core b!tch when students are late to my class, so if I’m late for the first day of class, I’m thinking this is totally going to undermine my authority in matters of punctuality. But I’ve still got five minutes—I think I can make it. I head out the door quickly and jog down the hallway and up the small flight of stairs to the exterior doors. I slip on the stairs, but I catch myself and avoid the total wipe out. I scramble quickly up the remaining stairs, looking down at my scraped hand. I look up one millisecond before my high-velocity collision with the floor-to-ceiling glass window between the two doors. I think I have a concussion. I think my teeth are broken or loose, and maybe my nose is broken. An East Indian girl who is walking behind me exclaims “Holy sh!t!” in an East Indian accent and keeps walking past me.

I keep running to my office, into the next building, and down the stairs into the anus of the college. I run into the office, a glorified storage closet, which I think I share with about seventeen other itinerant instructors. Another woman is there, and I blurt out, “I just ran into a glass window. Like a bird into a sliding glass door. How bad do I look?” She shakes her head a little, unsure how to answer. I have no time. I run back to my classroom—there is no time to duck into the bathroom and assess my face. As I re-enter the first building, I see a surprisingly distinct impression of my face on the glass. Mascara, lipstick, sweat. Like the Shroud of Turin.

I enter my classroom from the door at the back. I don’t know where the hell this comes from, but as I’m sliding between the desks to the front of the room I know exactly what to say:

“You guys are never going to believe this.” I turn to face them. “I just got into a fight.”

The tigers are awestruck. Like, what the frak did this woman just say? I start to go over the worksheet, and a young man in front row raises his hand tentatively and says, “There’s some blood on your teeth.” I reassure him that it doesn’t hurt, I tell them to move their desks in a circle, and we get on with the lesson. Once things loosen up a little I tell them my “fight” was with a window. My faceprint stayed on the glass for a month.

I was prey. I couldn’t show any weakness—being late or forgetting worksheets would surely have caused them to devour me. And in my moment of panic I instinctively spun my injuries into something that would somehow make me appear more powerful (and maybe even masculine) instead of foolish and clumsy. And even though I eventually disclosed the true cause of my unfortunate face, by that point I had already demonstrated my power to shock and deceive.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 4:19:53 pm by zuzu_ » Logged
cranefly
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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2009, 4:22:26 pm »

Two words: Explosive diarrhea.
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psychobubble
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2009, 4:29:47 pm »

Zuzu, I am in shock and awe at your ability to think on your feet.  That is a great story. I just ran into a sliding glass door the other night when helping a friend move and don't have as great a story to tell.  Do you repeat that every semester since it was such a successful strategy?
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toothpaste
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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2009, 4:38:55 pm »

zuzu, that is brilliant.

My most embarrassing moment was actually my first day teaching. I walked into my second discussion section of the day, put everything down on the table, including my big cup of water, and sat down on the table.

Do not sit on the table!

Everything went flying.

Those polite students did not react. So I pretended nothing had happened and never looked back.
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magistra
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2009, 5:02:52 pm »

Nothing too dramatic here (or perhaps I repress really well).  I have spilled coffee down my front while lecturing, however -- beware, those of you who need fluids to teach! -- and once a student managed to spill her water all over me and the floor right as I was about to lecture.  I actually didn't mind that last one, but she was mortified.  I know I'll spill coffee, diet coke, or wine all over myself by the end of any given day, so water doesn't even rate.
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psychdiva
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2009, 5:55:24 pm »

I had already demonstrated my power to shock and deceive

Zuzu, I worship you.
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Specializing in nervous inquietude since 1986.
mountain_ivy
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2009, 7:17:22 pm »

In my many, many years of teaching in front of thousands of students, and my countless hours of lecturing in strange and confusing classrooms, and in my thousands of encounters with the latest techno-gizmos, I've never had one embarassing moment.

No, not one. Never. Nope.

Was the moment THAT bad????
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I run with scissors.
johnr
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2009, 10:13:07 pm »

In my many, many years of teaching in front of thousands of students, and my countless hours of lecturing in strange and confusing classrooms, and in my thousands of encounters with the latest techno-gizmos, I've never had one embarassing moment.

No, not one. Never. Nope.

Was the moment THAT bad????

"One" is actually the operative word in this case.
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gennimom
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2009, 10:22:22 pm »

This was from my hs teaching days, but one day, my zipper failed. Yes, that one. It didn't just come unzipped, it totally failed. I had to go ask permission to go home and change. And like Zuzu, my classes were 95% male. Fun.
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mystictechgal
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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2009, 11:19:15 pm »

Oh, gennimom, that reminds me of the time one of the guys in our department (County IT) had a zipper failure.  Rather than ask to leave to fix the problem he just wrapped his trench coat around himself and went about his business--business that regularly took him through various, public-filled, County offices. 

He never walked when he could run (his version of seeming efficient) and every now and again the trench coat would flap open to reveal his Valntine's Day boxers sticking out the fly.  Looked like we had some kind of lecherous flasher on the public payroll.  Eventually, the Auditor saw him, called our boss, and demanded that he get him the H--- out of there to go change.  He couldn't understand why our boss (who hadn't seen him) was angry.
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gennimom
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2009, 11:33:10 pm »

What is it with computer geeks who are totally oblivious of reality and appearances?


I'll tell you, my principal was less than thrilled with my issue, and even less thrilled to have to ask a teacher or the counselor to watch my classes while I was gone (45 minutes). I had enough problems with those male students thinking I was fair game to torture, although it didn't take me long to correct that idea!

Come to think of it, I'm sure there were other embarrassing moments, but I think I blocked them out.
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...only after reading gm's post, my new mantra is "always listen to gennimom".
Monday reeks! - Garfield
The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a person (or something like that).
timesharerelief47
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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2009, 12:32:11 am »

I admire you, zuzu. Wish I could bounce back gracefully in my embarrassing moment just like what you did.
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