On the first night of my EMT class my teacher, Mr. Williams, spent an inordinate amount of time talking about how hard the class is (he was right) and how most of the students weren’t going to make it to the end (he was right) and about all the possible ways that we might get kicked out of the class (lot’s of people did.) He was quick to tell us that we weren’t going to be able to get through the class on our own (I did) and if we were smart we would form study groups early and rely on each other (wasn’t for me.)
Mr. Williams talked for a good forty-five minutes about how most of us were doomed to failure in this arena and when he was finally finished, I thought, Oh thank God. That was ridiculously unnecessary. Finally we can get on to the business of class. And then the “co-instructor”, Mr. Harvey, got up and said a lot of the same things… with a st-st-st-studder. This guy went on for a good twenty minutes saying all the same things that Mr. Williams had just said, just sl-sl-sl-slower. Obviously, Mr. Williams repeated a lot of the things since it took him twice as long as Mr. Harvey to say it.
When Mr. Harvey was finished, I breathed another sigh of relief and looked at my watch. More than an hour of the first class had passed and we hadn’t really even started yet. Finally we could get to it.
Um, the TA got up next and, you know, um, said a lot of the same things, you know, that um, you know had already been said. Um, he included a lot of, you know, “um”s and “you know”s, you know. But, you know, um, things were looking up, ’cause, um, you know, he only spent five or ten minutes, you know, talking about it.
This is getting ridiculous! I thought to myself as I consciously instructed myself not to take any of it to heart and not to let them succeed in discouraging me. I was determined to finish the class and not allow the naysayers to shake my resolve. One by one, each of the instructors, and helpers and former students and possibly a janitor, anyone who wasn’t part of MY class, got up in the front of the room and told us about how we weren’t going to be able to finish this class and how it was going to be an impossible struggle for each of us. Finally, everyone had spoken but one. It had been nearly two hours and I was desperately ready for us to move on and do something productive. Mr. Williams turned to the one young lady who hadn’t spoken yet and asked her, “Do you want to say anything?”
“No,” she said, “that’s OK. You guys have all pretty much covered it.”
“Ah, c’mon,” he chided. “Everyone else has talked. You might as well too.”
So she did. She got up in front of the class and told us all how this class was going to be the hardest thing we’ve ever done (not so sure about that) and how many of the students wouldn’t make it to the end (she was right) and that we would just have to work really hard to get through (have you read my blog lately?)
That first night, the class, which was supposed to be over at 9:20 lasted until after 10:30. I left determined to do my best. Determined not to let him rattle me. And determined to do everything in my power to prove them wrong. I also left that night determined that I wouldn’t spend a minute longer dealing with that man than I had to.
On my last night of class, after finishing my final exam and earning a 90% on the 167 question test, I told Mr. Williams that I wanted to come back and “just sit in” on the next class, my motivation being to keep refreshing the information.
Mr. Williams said, “JUST sit in?”
I said, “Well, I guess I could help out, if you want.”
“Good,” he replied enthusiastically.
I walked out of the room that night surprised how much the situation had changed. I still think his tactics are less than productive and I would rather see him be encouraging and supportive but he’s going to do what he’s going to do.
Mr. Williams seemed to be pleased that I planned to come back and I assume he wants to put me to work with the new bunch of students. I had assumed that he would contact me prior to the start of the class to talk to me about his needs or expectations and any arrangements that might need to be made, but it’s pretty cut and dried, I guess; show up, work with the new students. I never heard from him the whole six weeks.
Two weeks ago, I looked at the on-line course catalog to find out when he was teaching so I could be sure and show up to the first class. It said that this semester Mr. Williams was teaching a Tuesday/Thursday class. I thought about the first night of my class and wondered if it would be similar. Mr. Williams mellowed a lot over the course of my class, and I wondered if we’d be dealing with a kinder, gentler Mr. Williams, of it would be the return of Captain Blood.
I didn’t really want to have to make a speech in front of the class about how horrible this is going to be for them, but I remembered the last girl to have to speak in my class and imagined he wouldn’t let me off the hook. I began to formulate my speech in advance:
“Boy, they made it sound really bad didn’t they? It’s not really; or anyway it doesn’t have to be.
“If you came here tonight thinking this class was going to be easy, you were wrong. If you came here tonight thinking you were going to get by just listening to the lectures, but not reading the book, you were wrong. If you came here tonight thinking, this class was going to be a lot of work, you were wrong. If you came here tonight think this class was going to be a lot of work, take however much work you thought this class was going to be and double it, or triple it. It’s going to be at least that much work.
“If you’re not committed to this class, to learning the material you might as well not waste your time. BUT, if you’re committed to learning this stuff, to doing well in this class and if you’re willing to make the sacrifices for the next four or five months of this class to make sure you do, then you can forget everything they just said. Just work hard, do your best, and this can actually be fun.”
I imagined giving my speech and wondered how Mr. Williams would feel about it, but I wasn’t going to participate in the fright fest that they tried to create my first night.
I decided to leave work early on the first night, so I cold get to the class ahead of the new students and check in with Mr. Williams and be there for the whole class. So I left work, yesterday at 4:00. I went home to change clothes and feed Mischa. If my class was any indication, I could expect the class to run very late and I didn’t want to make him wait ’til I got home to eat.
I showed up to campus about 4:50 and after running by the restroom and stopping at the concession stand to get a drink, headed into the building that housed our classroom…
And found a sign on the door stating the Tuesday/Thursday class to be cancelled.
I called Mr. Williams. Turns out they cancelled the class due to funding and he’s teaching the Monday/Wednesday class again… Which means, I missed the first night of class altogether.