Anxiety in the Classroom

Posted: March 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

Every time you think you’re completely over the unexplainable anxiety that accompanies speaking up in class, you realize one doesn’t simply “get over” something like that. It’s no longer because you’re worried you’d say something stupid, or because your heart still beats fast every time people turn around to stare, but because the actual process of deciding to do it is one of the most troubling experiences, for how huge its every little detail suddenly feels.

Because, for some reason, when you have something to say, it never really comes out as smoothly as everyone seems to do it. You try to raise your hand, but everyone’s randomly shouting out answers that you’re not really sure if your hand is even visible anymore. You try to raise your hand, but your professor’s completely invested in what they’re explaining, that you do not want to interrupt, but you’re still worried they’d move on to another topic before realizing you had something to share. You try to raise your hand, but your professor’s still talking and you’re worried you might be irritating them with such a gesture that might indirectly be sending them a message to stop talking, when in fact you really want them to know you’re going to wait for them until they’re done – but your hand alone can hardly explain all that. You try to raise your hand, then quickly put it down when you realize your professor’s noticed you, but then they forget to get back to you and you spend the rest of class time wondering if you should have reminded them again. You wait for a pause, you wait because you want to raise your hand, but no pauses happen to make their way in-between the words. The professor moves on, students move on; everyone moves on. But you. You’re still obsessing over that one detail you really thought you should have let out, but never got the chance to.

You eventually decide to stop raising your hand. You decide to randomly shout out answers too whenever everyone starts doing it. You come to talk, but a colleague happens to speak at the exact same moment and your professor also happens to be looking their way. You know that everyone sitting around you has already heard what you said, but your professor hasn’t, so you decide to repeat the answer again, when someone else randomly does the same. You realize you’ve repeated yourself twice yet received zero attention. Do you speak again and have your colleagues hear you uncomfortably saying the exact same thing for the third time? Or do you give up and get back to obsessing over yet another lost chance?

Imagine all that, and probably even more, happening in the span of just a few seconds. It does feel weird realizing anyone’s giving that much attention to similar details, but it’s actually even weirder how most teachers have no idea what might possibly be going on in the minds of their very own students. It’s weird how they make students’ lives hard by wanting everyone to participate every second of class, yet they don’t always notice the existence of people who willingly want to. It’s weird that after four years at this place, I can still count the number of professors I’ve encountered that have made me feel comfortable about speaking in their classes, on the fingers of one single hand.

It’s not just weird, it’s sad. It’s sad that very few teachers actually understand the importance of what they do.

September 21, 2016

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