The back story to the student I mentioned briefly yesterday is this:
In class, I was having students get into small groups. In order to assign them randomly to groups, I numbered them off. I told them to remember their number, and I'd tell them where to go. It's a method of arrangement that I believe elementary school children can follow.
As they are getting up and moving about to their respective groups, this guy comes up to me and asks, "What number am I?"
I say, "I don't know. I told you to remember your number."
Him, at a raised volume, clearly irritated: "I don't know what number I am! What number am I?!"
Calmly, I say, "I don't know what number you are..." and I was about to tell him to just wait a second, we'll see which group is missing a person when he yells, "Fuck this shit!" and stomps his foot and then literally storms out of the classroom, slamming the door behind him and everything.
Have you ever heard of something so absurd?
So, I was a little shaken by his outburst, but was able to settle the class down (they, of course, heard him and saw his irrational behavior) and we continued with our task.
About ten minutes later, he returned and asked if he could speak with me outside. So, outside the classroom, he apologizes to me for his behavior and explains that he has a medical condition that doesn't enable him to handle "stress" very well. Ummmm...getting into a small group was stressful? Uh-oh. So, I ask him first if his condition is registered with the office of disabilities, and he says "no," and then I ask him: "Based on the situation today, do you really think you're capable of successfully handling a college course?"
He tells me he wants to try because he needs to "prove to himself and to his doctors" that he can.
So, I told him I accepted his apology and was willing to give him a second chance; however, I made it clear that his outburst was offensive and unacceptable, and that if anything even remotely similar happened again, that's it. I'll withdraw him from the class. He accepted this. I asked if he wanted to re-join the class for the day, but he said no, he needed the time to cool off, which was smart of him.
Because I've never had anything like this happen in my classroom before, I sought out the dean of my department later in the day to discuss it with him and see if I should file some sort of written account of what happened mostly because I'm almost certain this student will not finish the term with me and I'd like some documentation about this event to support any action I may take in the future. The dean of my department said yes, I should go speak to student affairs and file the necessary paperwork documenting the experience, which meant sitting down with that dean and repeating my story again -- so, like I said, the incident not only disrupted that individual class, it also disrupted my office hours and took up most of my afternoon because of these brief meetings and taking the time to sit down and fill out the necessary paperwork.
So, that's the full story. Hard to believe that it was set in motion because he couldn't remember his number, right? Yes, clearly, this individual does suffer from some sort of "condition," but while I'm sympathetic to that, if he is unable to conduct himself in an expected matter, no matter the condition, he's unfit to be in my classroom. So, we'll see.
What sucks is that this is only the 3rd week of class! Oh well, now it's Friday! Thank god.
*And, yes, this is my 10th year teaching. I started teaching college classes as part of a graduate assistantship when I began graduate school when I was 22. I'll be 32 in April. Which is certainly young for higher ed, but I get told all the time that I look like a student -- this has its advantages with the students...most of the time.