I May Hate My Professor, But She's The Best Professor I've Ever Had

I May Hate My Professor, But She's The Best Professor I've Ever Had

I think my professor has a lot to question about some of her current teaching methods. But despite all of her flaws, I'll be damned if I don't say she's not an excellent teacher.

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Forgetful, curt, frigid.

Those are only a few of the shining adjectives I can think of to describe my professor. A self-assured, no-nonsense middle-aged woman has been the bane of my existence this semester and ironically, one of the most intriguing parts of it. In much the same way that a sore muscle feels painfully pleasurable, I've found myself utterly annoyed (sometimes downright angered by) my professor and her mannerisms, yet enjoying every minute of the class, nonetheless.

On the first day of class, we never really know what to expect. Most of the time, we're neither disappointed nor surprised, but on the first day of the spring semester, I found myself experiencing both emotions in the most perplexing of ways. She showed up fifteen minutes late and ended the class 30 minutes early... delightfully surprising, along with her thick, Mediterranean accent that somehow conveyed to me the air of self-possession that she would carry herself with throughout the entire semester. An air that makes for a passionate, assertive professor that has the power to captivate an entire room.

However, as I stared down at my unstapled six-page syllabus, eccentrically adorned with a grading scale that included an E grade (and no, the E did not stand for "elective"), and observed the nonchalant way she brushed off our questions and exited the class before even half of us were out of the room, I felt the disappointment settle deep into my bones and the knowledge that I would have a less-than-put-together professor creep into my mind.

I was not wrong about my assumption.

I first started to get irritated with her when she entered the wrong grade in the gradebook... and then argued with me for five hours via email about how the mistake was somehow my fault.

Then, I started to get upset with her when she decided to play the role of Petty Betty after our email run-in, and call on me every single day in class, only when my hand wasn't raised.

The passive-aggressiveness was easy to spot. I'm already quiet in person, but to be put on the spot when clearly I have no idea how the hell to answer her question, really ground my gears. Not one for confrontation, I just ignored it and made sure that I always showed up to class extra prepared to speak.

I finally felt my irritation slip into anger when I observed one of her exchanges with another student, where she accused her of standing her up on their meeting, although the student denied ever setting one up with her. She even showed my professor her complete list of sent emails, showing that they never spoke about meeting after class. Yet, my professor couldn't let it go and insisted that the girl had to be wrong. I had to roll my eyes and shake my head at the whole thing. Clearly, my professor lived a frazzled life and somehow felt it appropriate to put the blame on her students. The terrible thing about extremely self-possessed people is that their unceasing belief in themselves makes it hard to see when they should question themselves.

I think my professor has a lot to question about some of her current teaching methods, like why her syllabus includes grades that don't exist, or why she never gives us rubrics or outlines for our assignments — or better yet, why the deadlines of our project keeps changing, despite the fact that we've all complained about it.

But despite all of her flaws, I'll be damned if I don't say she's not an excellent professor. In my two years at Rutgers, I have to say she's the best one I've ever had.

When I slip into my seat at 9:15 a.m., I know that I'm going to walk out with a firmer understanding of the world and my place in society. It is because of the intelligent, ardent, and honest discussions that we've had in class that I walk away each week feeling more and more "woke." It is because of the fire in my professor's eyes and her dedication to holding others accountable, that I have questioned myself, the institutions that make up our society, and my own choices more than I ever have before in my life (and I consider myself a pretty cynical bit*h).

She has the power to take a concept that I already know and understand, and speak about it in a way that transforms it into something completely new.

She has the power to make us think and when it feels like the only thing that matters about a class is whether or not you pass it, it's pretty darn refreshing to be immersed in an environment where your focus is solely on the content and not your grade.

If I met my professor in any other context, there's a good chance I would've liked her.

There's no doubt she's intelligent, and on the off chance that she does crack a smile, it really does light up a room. However, in the context that we did meet, I much rather would've preferred a more easygoing, structured, and accountable person. But alas, we can't all live up to other people's expectations. Although I would like to trade her personality for those of my other professors in the past, she's given me something that no other has (at least, not on such a tremendous scale), and that is a lens to think critically about and observe the world around me in a way that I didn't know was possible.

And if I had a choice between a nice, lackluster professor, and a hard-ass, yet impeccable one — well, I'd pick the hard-ass every time.

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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An Open Letter To Myself At 15

This is an open letter to myself about things I wish I had known at 15.

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Dear Hailey,

You are so loved. I know times might be hard, but it will all be okay. It's okay to ride the fence and be unsure of what you want to do with your life. You're going to change your mind 10 more times before graduation anyways. Also, don't worry about all of the things that you can't change. You can't make someone fall in love with you or make her treat you like a better friend. It's okay for people not to fit in your life. Stop bending over backward for people and live for yourself. In a few years, you will go through so much, but you come out on the better side. You are going to be successful and driven. Also, learn what the meaning of "self-care" is. You need to do a lot of that in the upcoming years. Mental health is more important than anything. Also, quit cutting your baby hairs. They will never get longer so you need to embrace and love them early on. Figure out what you can change, and what you cannot. Most importantly, accept what you cannot change. When you decide that you are ready to face the things that you can change, do it with your whole heart. That doesn't mean complete perfection. It's important to know the difference. Start by making a plan for the future. Write it down, memorize it, do whatever makes it the easiest for you. Think through your plan logically, take into consideration your strengths and weaknesses. Remember to do the hard things first once in a while, the relief is sweet in the end.

You are ready.

You are young.

You are smart.

You are beautiful.

If you ever feel that you are at your lowest point, just remember the only place that you can go is up. Find reassurance in the weakness. The best is yet to come. Don't take pity on yourself. Instead, work harder to make your situation better. Be happy. There are so many things to be thankful for. Ask when you need help. No one can read your mind. Time won't stop for you. Worrying and stressing is simply a waste of time. Be strong and know that you are in God's hands. Everything will work out. It may not be today or tomorrow, but eventually, the pieces will fall into place and you will understand why things had to happen that way.

Love,

Me

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