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The Handy Dandy Guide to Avoiding Getting Called On

March 5, 2011

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.



21 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2011 2:34 am

    I am so glad I found your blog! I keep coming across really serious themed blogs and I never thought I would find a fun one…. I was wrong. I support anyone that actively avoids answering questions in class ;0)

    • March 6, 2011 11:56 pm

      I avoid it like a llamaraptor on steroids! Class participation, smash smarpicipation, I say. Btw, thanks! I like making people smile 🙂

  2. March 6, 2011 3:22 am

    Hahaha this is really funny!
    I should remember this rules so that I can pick on the students that are doing these rules 😉
    Rule #2 won’t work in my class because from the beginning of the lesson,food is not allowed

    • March 7, 2011 12:03 am

      Aw, thanks! And yes, make sure to pick on them. They may not be able to eat for Rule #2, but they could still drink water!

      So, though I do advocate giving your good students a break every now and then, be sure to watch out for constant water guzzlers and repeat book droppers… 😉

  3. March 7, 2011 3:20 pm

    These are a great set of rules. I have this problem A LOT! And I thought I knew all the tricks. However, being a guy, I think it’s harder on us generally, as (especially male) professors are a lot more reluctant to do anything that would embarrass a female student, I think most of the time they get joy out of embarrassing the guys. 😛
    But these are good tips none the less.

    • March 7, 2011 3:41 pm

      Lol, yes – they have to make school harder on you guys because careers will be harder on us. Ahh, sexism… But thanks! Maybe you could try Rule #6: Bat your eyelashes, grin sweetly, and say you “just can’t think of that darn answer, shucks!” If anything it would make for a memorable reaction, haha.

      • March 8, 2011 2:44 pm

        Maybe I’ll try that with one of my female professors. I’ll be damned if they can resist the charm of my awesome manly eyelashes!!! lol

  4. Girl permalink
    March 8, 2011 1:55 pm

    What an awesome post!

    I’ve always adhered to the invisible seating chart but I never thought of any others. The snack idea is brilliant.

    Its smart, so I don’t have to be!

  5. March 10, 2011 10:14 am

    I could’ve used this in high school! Great site.

  6. March 11, 2011 2:38 pm

    awesome post! i would even consider going back to school JUST so i could use some of these! where were you 10 years ago?!

    • March 13, 2011 6:28 pm

      Hmm… Playing with stickers and hot wheels, I think. And I definitely had no knowledge of these rules! Those were the good old days when we did our homework because it only took ten minutes. If only it could be over that quickly now…

      Thanks, though!!! And if you find yourself in a situation where you can apply them, let me know how they work for you 🙂

  7. lifewith4cats permalink
    March 12, 2011 1:14 pm

    youve drawn these procrastinating students so they look so innocent. This is hilarious.

  8. lifewith4cats permalink
    March 13, 2011 4:27 pm

    I think your inner child must have harnessed the powers of true evil. Because she looks so innocent with her nice pink dress and buckled shoes. Hair brushed with 100 strokes. ..yup.. definitly evil.

    I have similar misleading tactics for how to walk barefoot inside public places with out getting it noticed. 🙂

    • March 13, 2011 6:23 pm

      Sounds intriguing!!! I’d love to hear some 🙂 Who wouldn’t prefer to be barefoot?!

  9. March 13, 2011 6:51 pm

    If you look suddenly at some spot, all eyes will go there too. Once in a fancy eatery I was about to pass the mens room door when a guy came out. He saw me and I knew he was about to give me the ‘head to toe’ look. So I stared expectedly at the place behind him.

    He got so flustered, he tried to be a gentleman and hold the mens room door for me. Then he got even more flustered when he realized what he had just done. haha it was funny! But he never looked down.

  10. August 3, 2011 5:21 pm

    Loved this so much I had to reblog it…. You crack me up!

    • August 3, 2011 6:49 pm

      Thanks Aloha! It was inspired by Spanish class, so you may want to keep it in mind when you go back – summer’s hard on the Spanish skills!

  11. August 26, 2011 6:17 pm

    I love, love, LOVE this post! 😀 I’ve tried all of these things to avoid being called on in French class. My French is so bad compared to everyone else’s that every time I have to answer or read aloud I basically die. But our classes are so small the lecturer can hardly miss you. And I always do the notebook scribble thing. Not that it helps, they just interrupt you and ask you to read anyway. The only thing that helps is sitting at the very front (in contrast to your chart!), because the lecturer tends to stand in the middle of the room, so if you sit there, you end up behind her back. 😀
    Wow, I almost wrote a blog post here! 😉


  1. The Handy Dandy Guide to Avoiding Getting Called On (via Paroxysm of Outrageous Random News) | Embracing Insanity

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