500 Words At A Time: Sitting and Talking in Class

Classrooms are interesting places for me. I can sit there and take notes. I can engage in conversation with the professors or students. Less so the students. I can have fun. Suffice to say, my behavior in a classroom has shaped my college experience.

Okay, lets be honest, classrooms are a place of social experimentation to me. I will not lie and say that I was the best or perfect student. Far from it. Even though I am “old” and there was an expectation that I would “act my age,” I enjoy making fun for myself…well, by being me and fucking with humanity.

Seating: When given the choice, I sit in the back of the classroom. I sit in the back of the classroom where I can observe the rest of the class. I enjoy watching the students. I make notes of who talks to whom, who is texting who, general behaviors, social groups, and other personal details that catch my attention.

A formerly favorite past time of mine was to wait a couple of weeks and change seats. People get attached to their chairs and seating arrangement. Someone, me, changing one seat really throws the classroom dynamic off. If that someone, me again, has a small pile of notes about the people in the class, a simple change of seats can reset a classroom dynamics. Such as, the group of dickheads who talk during lecture find me sitting among them, they stop talking. If I sit among them long enough, they change their behavior. Or, by changing seats and responding to the professor, other people who may not have responded will start to…most of the time. Sometimes though, I changed seats because I am bored and want to see what happens. 🙂

I also sit in back because it limits the number of students who can sit around me. In general, I don’t like having students around me unless they are around my age. People around my age, tend to do the work and can carry on a conversation. Nothing annoys me more than sitting next to a student who has not done something as simple as read the chapter. Thus, to limit my annoyance level I try to avoid obvious sources of potential annoyance, students.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, in that I like to talk to the people near me…

Talking: There is talking and there is responding. Talking is carrying on a conversation with whomever. Responding is responding to a question or query from a professor. I talk a lot and I am weird about responding.

Professors routinely ask questions during lecture. The obvious action would be for someone who knows the answer to respond. Unfortunately, either I am surrounded by a bunch of mutes, something I know not to be true, or the grade-middle-highschool behavior of not speaking in class for fear of ridicule is strong. Thus, silence reigns the day.

I know the answer. Rare is the time I don’t. Why don’t I respond? I should respond, that would end the awkward silence, the students staring at the wall, the paper, the phone, the clock, or the table, and my responding would resume the lecture. But, often I don’t. It’s not that I enjoy the silence. I hate the silence. However, one of my first classes showed me something that I have been playing around with ever since.

If I respond too much (a variable amount to be sure), other students will not respond at all and in fact, expect me to take care of responding for them.  If I am only responding to end the silence, are they getting anything out of the exchange? Some professors have said yes, others no, and most have said that they are happy that someone is responding at all. I made a decision to wait before responding. I want to see if another student responds before I do. Often this leads to me responding anyways, but at least I am giving them a chance. Probably a me thing.

Now talking, that I do too much. I have been scolded for talking too much in class. As much as I don’t like to have students sit next to me, they are a source of conversation and fun. I am also overly prone to letting my inner sarcastic dialog become external sarcastic dialog, especially when students are doing something…well stupid comes to mind.

I try not to talk during lecture or something important. Notice I said try. I am a flawed vessel. A flawed vessel that likes talking and has not mastered his in-door voice yet.




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