Calculus 1 Day X, or Teachers make a difference

There are only six or so more meetings of my calculus class, and one of those is for the final exam. So… long story short, I’m PROBABLY getting a B. Unless I ace the final AND my professor loads on ridiculous amounts of extra credit opportunities that I’d also have to ace, an A is impossible this semester. I’m pretty sure to get a B though, unless I just stop working, or if in the next week, ol’ Prof serves up some wicked hard crazy impossible-to-remember shit.

The thing is, it’s so much of a bummer. I don’t recall ever having worked so hard on something, and then getting such lackluster results. The curse of being a “gifted child,” I guess? Sure, I’ve failed tests and even courses in my day — but not after trying to pass. I only failed before because I was truant or lazy or just didn’t pay attention…

Now, I’m not FAILING calculus. But I am trying really hard to do well, and I’m not meeting my goal! It’s depressing. Do you know what a 5.0 unit ‘B’ does to a girl’s GPA? 😦

God help me not get a C! I don’t even know what I’d do in that case! Maybe quit college and go back to the Navy.

So I’m bummed, but still trying to at least correct myself enough that I feel semi-prepared for Calculus II next month. And I thought it would be worth talking about speech class today, too:

I only have ten minutes between math and speech classes, so I hustle, use the little girls’ room, and mow down an apple and maybe some nuts on the way to the latter class. Usually I arrive with a couple of minutes to spare, so I stand outside, eating my apple. Why? Because I’m seemingly the only person at my school who a) doesn’t eat in buildings/rooms where you’re not supposed to eat in the first place, and b) realizes that nobody wants to hear me eating! Ugh!

Anyway, so today I was eating my apple outside of class as usual, when the teacher came out (I call her a teacher, not a professor, because that’s what she calls herself).

“To what do I owe the honor of having you in my class?” she asked.


To be honest, yes, her class is annoyingly cake-like sometimes. It’s easy, and frustratingly so at times. Some things I’m just good at, experienced at, or “get.” (Calculus apparently ain’t one of them!) I know this, but I don’t like talking about it. I don’t want to seem arrogant to anybody, but even more so, I don’t want to BE arrogant. That’s not who I want to be. Humility is great, plus, no one knows everything… so even if I were the world’s leading authority on speech, I’m sure I could still learn things from people in this class I’m taking.

So anyway, I felt a little awkward because once people identify/label you as “smart” in some way, they just look at you differently, and sometimes treat you differently. I don’t want that (though yes, I did when I was younger, but that’s another story).

So Ms. R. elaborated on what she was asking, and asked me about my previous courses and things. It made sense to her why I am one of her top students. She asked me my major, and I literally laughed at myself when I answered, “Physics.” I’m sure a lot of people hear that and think, “Whoa, smarty smart smart!” but when I say it (more like confess it), what I’m thinking inside is, “Yeah, that’s what I want to learn about, but am I going to be able to hack it?”

My teacher thanked me for being a model student (her words), and I thanked her for what I took implicitly as a compliment. Now that I’m writing, it makes me think about the different times we thank people. When I was in Japan, it seemed like there was always a contest to see who could be the last person to say “Arigatou gozaimashita!” But that’s another post for… someday when I’m not devoting most of my time to thinking/studying/practicing/lamenting over calculus.

The point is that my calculus grade is bumming me out, but my speech teacher did add just the touch of individual attention and kindness to my day that really makes teachers wonderful. Not all of them of course. But some of them. Yeah. Did Ms. R. know she would at least get me off thinking about my calc grade for a minute? No, but she did, and she’s evening brightening my day a little bit right now, as I think about the fact that she really didn’t need to go out of her way to talk to me. Teachers have no idea sometimes.


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