Recently, I started student-teaching an early-level math class for online instruction due to the health crisis. I’ve seen difficult students in the past, but coming into this school really shocked me. Here are a few of the most memorable stories.

I assigned some math problems for the students to do for homework in their textbook. It was something like numbers 19-26 and 30-35. The next day, I came into school and checked all of the online submissions. About half of the class only completed 19, 26, 30, and 35 because apparently the dash in the middle means nothing! Then, after we went over the answers in class, which I specifically mentioned that the dash means that you have to do all of the numbers in between, several students submitted late work with the exact same problem.

During one of my classes, only one student showed up in the online classroom early or on time. Every other student was at least seven minutes late, if they even decided to show up at all. So, to reward the one student, we told him to only do the odd problems — half — of the homework assignment while everyone else had to complete all the problems. The next day, I checked this student’s work and he completed the evens.

This one takes the cake in my mind. I assigned ten questions for homework. The ten questions all fit on the first page of a PDF file. On the second page of the PDF were the exact same ten questions with the solution, written in red, directly underneath the problem. The goal was to get the students to show their work and then check their answers. An hour after the homework was given, I got an email:

“Hello, [My Name]: I see that we actually have twenty problems to do for homework and I’m wondering if we have to do them all. I’m really unsure if my answers are correct.”

This baffled me! This student actually had to go through the second page to count all of the problems in order to find out that there were twenty total questions in the PDF! During this time, she didn’t once realize that they were the exact same questions?! Or even that there were answers written in bright red?!