A response

Hi Everyone,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for slogging through my long, long, typo-filled rant and your support. You know, this is my dream and it just sucked that it was going downhill.  I was so mad/embarassed/annoyed when I got back to work yesterday that I just poured it all out here. You are all truly great thinking minds. I took the most common advice and wrote to the instructor: 

From: Cidell
Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 7:43 PM
To: Instructor
Subject: My apologies

I want to apologize for my outburst today. I’ve been very frustrated with the attitude of particular classmates and felt that today was exceptionally disruptive. We were not only in the middle of a quiz, but I felt that time was being taken away from class to deal with one student’s issue. And, this was something that was best discussed outside the classroom. My response did not help the situation and I just wanted to let you know from now on, I’m going to do better to keep my comments to myself.

From: Instructor
Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 12:14 PM
To: Cidell
Subject: RE: My apologies

Don’t worry about that. After you left, I had to raise my voice (what I don’t like to do) and calm everyone down. I talked to some students and asked them to see me outside the class room, or during my office hours when they have an issues. I hope it would help.

I agree that it is very difficult to study in such a tense atmosphere…

Hope to see you on Thursday.

Do not give up on us!


So, my plan is to ignore the person. And, if this continues, I’m going to the department head. It’s not fair to me or anyone else for this to continue. I loved all the advice and will consider private tutoring next semester (or maybe over the summer when classes aren’t being offered) for draping if this kind of stuff continues. Life is too short. I took great relief in knowing I wasn’t the only one who had been through this.

But, I also took a moment to reflect on JudithNYC’s comment. It got me thinking about my behavior. Because maybe *I* come off as the ‘know it all’ in class. I do finish early. I do ask questions about things off the syllabus. It’s just something that occurred to me after reading this comment.

Again, thank you all!


  1. I’m glad you wrote to the instructor, and I’m glad she had words with the class and some select students. She’s right – don’t give up on the class. I hope everything works out. Just keep your head high and your spirit strong and you’ll get what you want from the remainder of the class. And let us know how it goes.

  2. I think you did the right thing by writing the instructor. I hope things get better. Just ignore the disruptive student, learn and enjoy yourself.

  3. Good luck with this. You’ve taken the right path. Now let’s hope the troublemaker will either calm down or leave the class. Either way, after you finish the class you won’t have to deal with this person again. Unless, God forbid, she takes the same class you do again!

  4. Cidell
    Thank you for writing on your experience in the class. The lord works in his own way. I was thinking about taking a class at a community college in Georgia. When I lived in NY I took a class at FIT and when I tell you the class was intense and hard does not begin to state what we had to do and this was a CONTINUNING ED class . At the time I was in my 30 and most of the class was in their 20’s and my Aunt who is in her 70’s recently took a draping class at FIT. She liked the class But now I see there is a difference between community college and 4 year institutions. Thanks for saving me money that I really do not have to waste.

    • Hey Barb,

      I think it depends. I had to take the night class once and it was a totally different vibe. The class was smaller and more focused. That being said, I couldn’t concentrate as well and the teacher drew on the board rather than have us gather around and show an example of what she was doing. But, some problems persisted. Mainly, people strolling in 30 mins to an hour after class started and the instructor giving them help.

  5. One thing that I tend t do is look at the person’s behaviour as amusing. I do this with relatives….. The thing that you have going on in your favor is the fact that the class last a certain amount of time, and you probably will never see her again.

    In addition, since you seem to be pretty advanced, ask the teacher for an additional assignment that allows you to challenge yourself. That is what I do for my advanced students. You could also tutor some of the folks that don’t know what to do?

    Just a thought. You can channel that wonderful skill of yours into helping others.

    • Thanks! But, I think I’m not actually advanced, since I don’t know squat about drafting. I just understand it faster because it’s working with a sloper and I’m familar with the concept. Kind of like, I understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. Versus with the others, I think they are just copying what she tells them to do without getting why they are doing it. The instructor has also been pretty good with giving me more work during class and I work ahead in the book whenever possible.

  6. I don’t think being a serious student is a “know-it-all”, having been in the “serious student” mode myself. Especially if you’re trying to get your serious questions answered, and not showing off. Sometimes you have to keep asking serious questions to keep things on track in class.

    I’m glad you got a positive response from the instructor, but if things don’t improve, don’t hesitate to consult her and the department head. You’re investing big bucks and big time I would guess.

    We’re all behind you!!!

  7. I think this was the perfect response. You’re right, you don’t want to single yourself out as a troublemaker, for whatever reason. Let it lie now and see how it plays out, but if you’re still not satisfied quietly go to the department head. The instructor has made an effort, you don’t want to put her on the spot of choosing a “fav” student. I don’t know if I’m making sense but I think you may be right, pointing out a problem is one thing, running it into the ground and coming off as a “know it all” who picks at everything is another. Fine line, but sounds like you’re walking it well. K

  8. Well, this comment moves in a bit of a different direction than the others, but bear with me here… You mentioned how eager you are to do the work, that you finish early and work ahead… are you sure this class is challenging enough for you? You might be taking a class where you are the “serious” student among students who do not share your passion, attitude or abilities. It feels good to do well in any class, but… Is this what you really want? If not, dare I say you could be wasting some money here…?

  9. I just tuned in and WOW! I believe I waited on that stinker (I’m being polite!) once upon a time. God, I feel for you and I have to say that back in the day I would have let it slide but not today. I can’t stand or tolerate such ignorant behavior and I know I would have finally said something (and I would have been shaking like a leaf too). No one wants to waste their time and money to put up with that crap. She should be asked to leave and her money refunded to her (even if she doesn’t deserve it.) And please, don’t appologize for ranting on your blog!!

  10. I’m glad you’re getting it handled and have calmed down. I know it sucks.

    But, just in case, might want to leave the earrings at home 😉

    • You’re actions seemed to have woken up your instructor. Good, but if that isn’t enough I hope that you will pursue this further. I agree with another poster, why don’t you ask for extra assignments? You are obviously more advanced than the majority of your class. You are certainly more motivated.
      I hope that you won’t let that horrible woman ruin the class for you.

  11. You’ve received a lot of sound advice, and you handled yourself like a true professional. (Most of which sounds like the advice I give my daughter, college freshman, almost DAILY – geez, will these kids ever grow up?) Congratulations!

    And please, continue to pursue it with the department head if need be. You paid your tuition and deserve the education that payment guaranteed.

    Although looking at a previous comment – the class may be too low level for you. I’ve seen your work, and you’re more advanced than maybe you’re giving yourself credit for. Is this class a pre-requisite for a different class that you really want to take? Because, many times, if you talk to the instructor, you can get out of pre-requisites.

    Anyways, I feel your pain, I support you, and I totally value you as a fellow seamstress, sewist, creative artist – pick your term.

    – Heather

    • Hi Heather,

      The next classes I want to take are draping and computer assited drafting. They have a tailoring course too, but I’m not sure how I feel about that. Plus, my instructor is going to start teachin a menswear tract that I’m also interested in. Both draping and the CAD program require this drafting class.

  12. Cidell, I am pretty sure you are not the type of know-it-all I was referring to. I was thinking about the type of student that does not really have a good grasp of the material but insists on correcting the instructor and postulating their ideas. And they tend to monopolize the class. I don’t know you, but you don’t come across as arrogant in your blog and I am pretty sure that’s the way you are in real life. There is nothing wrong with being a good student.

    • Well, thanks Judith! I was thinking along the lines of how it may come off if I’m breezing past and asking questions others don’t understand. I think of it more as perception. But, I can’t spend too much time worrying about what others think, right?

  13. That’s a very classy email you sent your instructor. You took responsibility for your own behaviour — which a lot of people would have said you didn’t have to do, myself included. But by doing so, you opened it up for the instructor to step up to the plate and take on her authority as an instructor. Well done.

  14. Passion, dedication, and experience can make the difference in a class like that. Cidell, do what you have in your heart, someone will always have something to say. So many doors have been opened for you already…

  15. Glad you’ve started to handle the situation appropriately. After 40 plus people said the same thing I would have, I just didn’t bother, but I felt so badly for you. I know how much you’ve looked forward to this class!

  16. Dear Cidell:

    I think through your message you let your teacher know that you are mature enough to admit to your mistakes and are willing to rectify. This must’ve been refreshing for her to see because I can guarantee you that other student isn’t doing the same.

  17. that was a very good letter. I’m glad that you sent it and I’m happy about the teacher’s response. I hope that the future classes run more smoothly. 🙂

  18. I don’t have time for a class like this right now, but I would *love* to take one–so I excited to experience it vicariously through your blog. Thus I’m sorry to hear about this experience, and a bit disappointed too. But I do really admire the way you handled the situation, and I hope you can make the class work for you. If the other students are smart they’ll watch you like a hawk and learn a little more than how to read a ruler.

  19. Think of the positive outcomes: You were able to reflect on your own stuff, the teacher may develop some classroom management skills and hopefully, this woman will stop being so disruptive and needy. Don’t give up.

  20. I agree! That was a great letter you wrote. And good info you got back from the instructor; will help you this next week in class.

  21. I really feel for you, Cidell, and I hope this works out. One thing you might consider is taking courses like this from a trade school, or even a local university, if they offer one. It would be more expensive, but maybe well worth it, both for content and for the quality of the students attracted.

    It’s not for nothing that community college used to be called “high school with ashtrays”. Your approach to your sewing is a lot more mature, not to say a lot more professional, and you might find that you get more out of classes populated with like-thinking people.

  22. I doubt you come across as a know it all.

    Judith has spoken herself to define what she means, but I wanted to add that sometimes the know it alls really do have a lot of knowlege. However, they come across as, “you have nothing new to teach me. I learned how to do this before and this is not how it was taught.” Well, we all know that techniques can and do change over time. If you can keep your mind even a little open to new things, you can learn a new approach, a new tweak of an old techique or something truly mind blowing.

    I always wonder why these people even bother to take classes if they have nothing left to learn.

  23. You’re a class act, Cidell. You’ve taken responsibility for your own role in the situation, but also subtly let the instructor know your expectations for her and the class. From here out, a knowing glance to the instructor should prompt her to take control. (At least that’s my Pollyanna wish for you.)

    Take comfort in the fact that as the classes get more advanced, the more serious/focused/purposeful your fellow students will be. You’ve just gotta make it through the intro pre-req classes and the riff raff classmates.

  24. Cidel,
    I taught high school English more than a few years back. It seems that many students are becoming more detached from the learning experience. Learning required at least some interest and much application. You are the type of student I would have loved to have. Applying yourself, asking questions that relate to the subject at hand for the purpose of learning more, and being irritated at students that waste your time and money. I always thought that it was my job to get my students to the point that they did not need me anymore. Let it go as much as possible and learn as much as you can. I once had a student who told me, in front of the class, that she was failing my class because I lost her papers and failed to record them. I replied, after doing some quick counting in my grade book, “Thirty-two of them?”.

  25. thanks for puttiing this out there. I think all of us–whether potential/current student or teacher–can learn from it.

  26. Unfortunately, I’m just reading your last two posts or I would have been there to support you… at least in spirit.

    Oh, my love. Did we not have this conversation about the population over there. Some want it, some don’t. Unfortunately, you have a few who don’t in your class. As for tossing out that dreaded moniker, “bougie”, if being educated, well spoken, self-motivated and diligent warrants that type of name-callling, call away…and kiss my a** in the process.

    As for your venting, no apologies, we all need to shed the weight of frustration now and then.

    As for your classmates, it is what it is. Amongst the rubble, there is always a jewel of a person who will be a kindred spirit to share your love of sewing and desire to excel at the craft. Cheers.

  27. Cidell,

    Well done. You did the right thing and I am sure that your class tonight will go alot better. I am proud of you for standing up for yourself. You, Erica, and some of the other ladies inspire me so much to learn more about sewing. I am taking classes now as well and luckily for me most of mine are one on one.

    Good luck


  28. You did the right thing. Hopefully, if you just ignore, ignore, ignore that annoying person she will be cease to be a disruption. Sometimes people just push and push until you can’t take it anymore and you have to tear ’em a new one – it happens to all of us! It certainly happens to me a little more often than I would like to admit. They say you develop more patience as you get older – ha!

  29. I’m so glad your class is better! There’s nothing worse than dreading going a class you had truly looked forward to taking. Did that even make sense? (its been a tough day!)

    I love the photo! Too bad those people wouldn’t move, though. You look great in bright orange, btw! Its one of my favorite colors.

  30. It sounds like your instructor still doesn’t get it completely. Hopefully her “discussion” with the other students will settle things down again. I would never tolerate this kind of behavior in one of my classes (of course, my students are only 10 – but still.) Unfortunately you ARE taking a class with a bunch of 13th graders – even if they are 50 something. If the class info and the instructor are worth it, stick with it. Otherwise, drop it. I’m still jealous and would love to be taking a class like that. Well, sans the loud mouth.

  31. Hi Cidell:
    Chiming in a little late here but you did the right thing! I think it is really important to stick up for yourself especially when it comes to your time and money. I think it was a learning experience for the teacher as well and it really showed she needs to change. I can’t speak for the behavior of the loud-mouthed idiot who is a disruption, but your time and energy are valuable! Very proud of you! I say don’t back down and keep fighting for what you know is right.

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