The Handy Dandy Guide to Avoiding Getting Called On
Even the best of students have those days: you didn’t do the prep work for today’s lesson and your professor is the kind that gets his kicks from calling on unprepared students. He spots your nervous glances and he pounces, effectively ruining your reputation for the rest of the semester and thoroughly embarrassing you in front of the entire class.
But never you fear! With this lovely set of skills in your repertoire, you’ll be able to avoid both class participation AND humiliation!!!
Rule # 1: NEVER Make Eye Contact
This is Rule #1, because if you break it, you might as well be this guy.
Rule # 2: Always Carry a Beverage or Snack Item
Professor Meanykins is looking for someone to answer his question. Who should he choose? Two young ladies look like they don’t have a clue. One is looking around nervously, and the other is chewing on a bite of food and going for a sip of water. Humiliation will rain down faster upon the former, as Professor Meanykins will have to wait for the latter to chew and swallow. Guess which one he chooses…
Rule #3: Take LOTS of Notes
Even if you haven’t got anything to write down, scribble away furiously in your notebook. Look like you’re so deeply engrossed in whatever it is your professor just said that you have to write it down before you forget. But really just remember: it doesn’t matter what you write so long as you are writing.
Rule #4: Don’t Find the Page
“Please turn to page 27. Who would like to read lines 7-39?” You know she isn’t really asking. She’s about to call on someone. And it’s Spanish class, where reading out loud just ends in your self-image shattering to pieces. So don’t find the page right away. Drop your book and go looking for it. Take your time searching for the page. Whatever you do, don’t stop flipping around until someone else is picked.
Rule #5: Sit in the Middle
Not the back, not the corner, not the front. Basically, don’t feel confident. Feel like you’re sticking out like a sore thumb. Your professor’s going to call on those students who were silly enough to think hiding would work. Good thing I’m providing you with the real seating chart:
However, if you DO get called on:
1) You’ve not followed the rules. Shame. On. You.
2) Don’t say you don’t know the answer, or can’t read that paragraph, or don’t want to participate in the skit.
a) If you were called on to answer a question, answer it with another question. Just make a vague statement that proves you were listening, but also that you don’t fully understand. This confuses them, and they generally respond with a short lecture on the topic, meaning you and your classmates benefit from a small break in the attack.
“Please explain the knight of Olmedo’s views on the upper class.”
“I think he was trying to say that he was from the upper class?”
b) If you were asked to read aloud or perform in a skit, do it as poorly as your dignity will allow. Don’t seem overly excited about having to do it, but be prompt and obedient. If you can work up a catch in your voice, or shaky hands, you’ll score even bigger. The professor will feel sorry for forcing your participation and for being the primary cause for your humiliation, and you just might get out of ever having to do it again.
However, there is a fine line between doing it poorly and doing it horribly, and you will need to practice on your own to find it. Because, if you perform horribly, the professor will no longer feel guilty, and instead pin you as a student in severe need of their attention. They will call on you every class from now on. Better get to practicing.