Annoyance #1: “Could you do any problem between 19 and 75?   Any one is fine.”

Translation:  “I didn’t do my homework.  If I even cracked the textbook at all, I wussed out and didn’t even try.  It looks like something that is not important to me or not as fun as other things I could be doing.  So, I used my time for something that would better hold my attention.  I guess attending the class and watching the professor do problems is enough to pass.”

Reaction:  The only people who are allowed not to do homework in a college course are the ones who have nearly perfect scores.  You may congratulate yourself on putting forth a reasonable effort , but until you’ve spent 6 hr/wk (class time x 2) or you have at least a 97 in the class, you’re not doing enough.

Script:  “I need help with number 33.  After I (choose at least one) typed in the keywords in Google/searched YouTube for an additional lecture/followed an example in the textbook/followed an example I found online, I still don’t understand (then name something specific.).”


Annoyance #2:  “Why are there no answers on the practice test?”

Translation:  “I don’t want to come to class the day before the test.  Furthermore, I have no appreciation for the professor giving me a practice test.”

Reaction:  You’re friggin’ welcome.

Script:  Our study group disagreed on how to complete (name a specific problem).  Here were the two thought processes.   Would you clear up the discrepancy and then explain why?”


Annoyance #3:  Cell phone vibrates.  Student giggles.

Translation: “I’d rather be somewhere else.”

Reaction:  Stop annoying me.  You’re making it so that I’d rather be somewhere else too.  Do things that contribute to our common goal of you learning mathematics.  If you refuse to contribute to your own learning, you’ve wasted my evening as well as your own.


Annoyance #4:  “Can you slow down so that I can see all the steps?”  2 minutes later… “Can’t you just do it a faster way?”

Translation: “I’m not really looking for help.  I’m just really super at complaining.”

Reaction:  Nothing would please me more than completing this task 4 times faster…. but you’d probably just complain about it.


Annoyance #5:  “I’m not that good at math.  I just ‘freak out’ during the test.”

Reaction:  See reaction #1.  About 99% of the students who say this have not completed the task list in reaction #1.  The 1% is merely lacking confidence but has an A.  To the other 99%, try using your whining time for homework.  Did you do all the homework?  If it’s so hard that you just sit there staring at your textbook, do the homework in the learning center or with your study group.

If you have not completed every scrap of homework, worksheets, practice tests, I ask you, how do you KNOW that you are not good at it?  You haven’t developed your skill set.  Math is only a talent for very few.  The rest of us rely on skill.  Don’t tell me that you’re not good at it when you haven’t done your homework.

Script:  I’m spending a lot of time with people who can help me.  I spent 5 hours doing homework.  I’m working hard at developing my skill set.


General reaction:  I know you have other things to do with your time.  Me too.  I’m doing this job to be entertained.  Ya know, make the world a better place and get to say all the academic words.   Don’t spoil it be being a dork.  If you annoy me, I will fall into the downward spiral of stewing that I’m wasting my time.  I won’t pay attention and I’ll make stupid arithmetic mistakes.  That’s not good for any of us.  So, for Pete’s sake, ENTERTAIN me! I have other things vying for my attention too.  Don’t add to the list by annoying me.  I have to grade your measly scraps that you half-heartedly throw my way.  I’m looking for you to make my evening and your evening productive by showing me signs of COGNITION! I have been exceptionally skilled in this department for a very long time.  If you’re not willing to entertain me by exhibiting the cognition and the skill set that you’re working so hard to develop, don’t expect me grant you enough of my attention to be peppy, helpful, or even accurate!