I recently started college at a well-known public university. Maybe I was expecting too much of my classmates (the standards for admissions here are reasonably strict, though certainly not extreme), but I’m a little shocked at my experience in Calculus today.
The first thing you should know is that I’m not a touchy-feely person. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with panic disorder. As a result, I am terrified of crowds and generally like my personal space. Adjusting to university life has been difficult for me. My condition also made it very difficult for me to keep my grades up in high school, since I was having panic attacks daily for a good year or so.
That being said, because I’ve been known for having good grades from a young age, I’ve dealt with way too many people thinking that this means I’m completely willing to help them with everything. Sure, I don’t mind answering a question, clarifying something the teacher said, etc. I don’t mind helping people. But once they’ve started to distract me from my learning, or taking my work, I’m no longer willing to go out of my way for them. They’re on their own.
This morning, at my 8AM calculus class, a boy came in 15 minutes late and sat down next to me. He must have overslept, but it’s not the worst crime in the world, so I didn’t think much when he asked me a couple of questions about what the teacher was going over. Slightly annoying, as I was trying to take notes, but certainly not worthy of Etiquette Hell.
The problem was, he didn’t stop asking me things, the entire class. And it wasn’t just about what was going on. He was literally reading my notes over my shoulder and asking me things about them! I was writing important points next to some problems from the book that I had done, and he asked me if that was homework. Well, no, but we have a quiz tomorrow and I wanted to be prepared. He was genuinely shocked that there was a quiz tomorrow and proceeded to ask me how I knew this. (I can only guess he didn’t bother showing up to his discussion section on time either), what was on it, etc. All during a lecture! I started to answer more curtly. I would deflect him by saying,”I don’t know,” or, “Why don’t you ask the teacher?” But he WOULDN’T STOP. All while he’s reading my notes over my shoulder!
So finally, about 15 minutes later (and 10 minutes from the end of class), I put my foot down. I wrote, in large, capital letters, on the side of my notes: I’M NOT YOUR TEACHER!!!! He seemed annoyed, and started asking the people behind us for help, instead. At the end of the class, he apologized, but the way in which he said it made it clear that he did not expect me to mind his invasion of my personal space.
What do you think, Miss Jeanne? Did I handle this situation appropriately? I expect to run into more people like this boy in my college career, and want to make sure I’m making myself clear without earning too many enemies. As much as this bothers me, I also know that people don’t know what I went through with keeping my grades up and being pestered by free-loaders in high school. 0907-11