What should I do about my student, who speaks out awkwardly in class, and challenges me on my age, knowledge?
I have a class-a media course-of about 20 students, all undergraduates, who are mostly around 18–21. One student, a woman is about 50 years old. I’m 30.
When I was finished reading my attendance list, I asked if there was anybody who hadn’t been called on. She raised her hand. I asked her what her name was, she said: “You can call me Ms. Thompson. You’re younger than me.” I responded by saying, “If that is what you prefer, then I am happy to call you that. She responded a bit later by saying that “Ms. T” was fine.
As class went on, the discussion came to first to the syllabus and eventually music. I plan to have them read a recent New Yorker article about Justin Beiber’s manager, and upon reciting that, she blurted out “why?!” and gave a bothered face/look.
When the class came to watch a few rap videos, to think about “representation/portrayals” (gender, race, sexuality, etc.) she was loud, overtaking others in the class, saying things like “when I was so and so age, rap was about lyrics and a message….do you know who professor griff is? do you know when/why music went from analog to digital?”
I didn’t get angry, as class was finishing and the discussion was becoming heated with other students and needed to manage the class more than her. After class I realized that she was most likely insecure, that being surrounded by kids, and not knowing (or caring much) about someone like Justin Bieber (I care as an educator and the window he provides), and then asserting what she did know…
I need a plan. So I’ve a few details I was hoping to get some help with from the Fluther community:
1) Generally, do you have advice about general classroom management when discussions become multi-person, all across the room, and it’s heated. I’d like to let them discuss, but it is a one at a time thing that I believe I need to enforce. I don’t want to raise my voice, and set that precedent.
2) With regard to this woman—what do I say when
- she challenges me, on my age, or my knowledge?
– she goes off-topic, speaks out.
I would like to assert to her, kindly, and in private, that this is what we are doing in class, and if she has issue with it, to talk about it with me after class, or drop it (and say that I would hate to see that). But that her comments are getting others off track and detracting from the classes in general.
One final detail. When she came to the course, she wasn’t registered. Now she is, so maybe she liked it/me!
Thank you for reading.
This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.