Teachers and professors have worked really hard to maintain a good educational environment, even if it is online. But, it is harder to maintain certain basic rules in a Zoom classroom.
Redditor NobobTalk encountered an issue with their student. So they turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.
“AITA for muting Bob?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“Bob talks over his classmates in one of my STEM majors classes.”
“One of my fellow professors sends me some TikToks of men talking over women in classes.”
“This was Bob every day. Multiple professors have warned him not to do this. Bob is also a hard C student, not great, not terrible.”
“In every class, he tries to talk over every woman and minority. I have told him repeatedly to stop.”
“From this week forward, Bob will be on mute for the rest of the class, and he has to use the type feature in Zoom.”
“Now he’s complaining to the head of my department.”
“I told him Bob could drop the class and take it next year (putting him behind in his degree). Or deal with the consequences of his actions for this required class.”
“In the lecture, Bob was not offering helpful information or asking questions. He was being rude and arrogant to other classmates. I’m not giving his microphone privileges back, and he has the option to drop this class without penalty.”
Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors agreed OP was not the a**hole.
“NTA, but I feel like if he wants to make a thing of it and escalate, he’ll probably win and Bob will get 15 mins of fame on Fox News. A small change to your policy might be that you start each class with him un-muted, but the first time he cuts anyone off, he’s muted for the rest of the class. That way he’s not being ‘punished’ in advance of doing anything wrong, yet the net result (of him being muted for most of every class) is probably the same.” ~ Naritai
“Make it a policy for all students in the class. Then Bob cannot complain for being singled out.” ~ lotus_eater123
“I’m afraid you’re going to find there are a lot of bigoted, misogynistic men out there who have been raised to think this is ok. So yes we have to treat people like toddlers because they basically have to be retaught from the ground up that this is not ok.” ~ nursepenguin36
“They could already be using a policy where all students are muted and they have to indicate a raised hand when wanting to speak, it’s pretty normal and civil.”
“Making it class-wide is the best idea!” ~ drowreth
“That sounds like the Zoom equivalent of the debate class we used to have at my primary school, where the only person allowed to speak was the person holding the roll of sticky tape (and our class teacher was in control of who got the roll of sticky tape next)! I love it!” ~ Normal-Height-8577
OP was standing up for his students.
“Any online class should be conducted as if it were in person. So no eating, smoking, whatever activities you do outside. Better yet, conduct them as if they were face to face business meetings. I’m a lead developer in small company working from home 4 out of 5 days, yet I would never, ever, dare to light a cigarette, eat something or do something else besides having a cup of coffee or water during an online meeting with clients.” ~ rtvdoorn
“NTA. He’s adding nothing to the discussion and he was warned. Apparently he still needs to learn actions have consequences and he’s lucky to learn them now where it’s just getting muted.”
“The boss warns you too pipe down and let other people talk and you keep it up you’re either off the project or out the door.” ~ Comfortable-Tell-323
“NTA. This is 2022. Not 1953. I don’t understand what goes through someone’s brain and convinces them that they are more important than everyone else. I have an 11 yo with this affliction and I am working hard to curtail it for his future. Thank goodness you aren’t putting up with his misogynistic BS.” ~ Benadrew83
People shared their own experience with a Bob.
“NTA. I have dealt with a Bob before except my Bob is named Fred. Here is what I learned!”
“Remember that it doesn’t just matter what you do to handle the situation – it matters what you are seen doing. There are other students in that class, watching Bob be disrespectful, and the message they are getting if you do nothing is, ‘The professor thinks this is acceptable behavior’ or if he is suddenly banned from speaking, ‘The professor’s rules are arbitrary.'”
“I’m not saying that’s true, I am sure you have spoken to him and warned him, but I’m saying that you cannot make special rules just for him and if speaking to him privately hasn’t worked previously, you need to start calling him out and enforcing consequences in the moment so that the rest of the class sees it.”
“I highly recommend changing the class policy to ‘If you cut people off or are rude to your classmates, you will be given one warning, and if it happens again that day, your microphone privileges will be taken away for the rest of that day’s class. Additionally, this is a three strikes rule. Once you receive three separate warnings, you will lose microphone privileges for the entire semester and have to use the chat feature or message me for permission to speak, sort of like having to raise your hand to speak back in grade school.'”
“Announce it in class and via email to all of your classes. Document it. Then enforce it for everyone. And then when Bob, inevitably, cuts off a classmate, you cut him off and say ‘Bob, Cassandra was speaking and you interrupted her. This is your warning not to do that. Cassandra, what were you saying?’ Email him (document!) after class, noting that Bob interrupted Cassandra while she was speaking and this is his [first, second, final] warning to be respectful of his classmates.”
“And then move on, act casual about the whole thing. It doesn’t need to be a big deal. You don’t need to get angry. Just calm correction and redirection, like you would for a toddler.”
“PS: expect Bob to get upset. God knows Fred did when I laid down the law, he actually cried every time I reprimanded him. He couldn’t handle not being always right and always in control of a situation. So if he gets upset, stand your ground but be polite. ‘I’m sorry that you’re upset about this, Bob, but these are the rules that the entire class is expected to follow and it would be unfair for me to make exceptions.’
“Use that ‘sympathetic teacher’ tone of voice, no matter how annoyed you are with him.”
“Good luck and please update us, I am emotionally invested now.” ~ notsolittleliongirl
Students need to be respectful.
“NTA: Sounds like a reasonable solution to the problem. (By the way, you should have probably mentioned in the first paragraph that you are his professor and that the class is on Zoom. Had to read the whole thing twice to tease out this information).” ~ ixamnis
“NTA. If typing is an issue, he could raise his hand (does zoom have that feature? We use a different platform) and be unmuted so he could contribute verbally, then muted again when he fails to follow the rules of discourse. That might be an easier sell to administration… And easier to implement impartially, when anyone is talking over peers after two reminders.”
“That way, the precedent is set for your classes – because surely he isn’t the only one – as well as other instructors who may be having the same issue.” ~ Scstxrn
“I like the muted-but-can-signal method. You could apply it to the whole class – the prof would have to be on the ball with acknowledging and unmuting people, but it would prevent people being talked over and cut down on unproductive asides and remarks where people are talking just to hear themselves talk. As long as you don’t ignore Bob completely, you can keep him from talking over people without giving him grounds for a complicit if everyone’s muted until you grant them the floor.” ~ hellhound_wrangler
“NTA. Bob’s problematic personality aside, he was corrected many times for his behavior and had been given many opportunities to make adjustments.”
“He did not take advantage of these opportunities to adjust his behavior. His punishment for this is that he has to communicate via text instead. This is not an unreasonable punishment, nor an unwarranted punishment.”
“He is still able to participate in class, if he so chooses. He is still free to choose to not participate, or to drop the class completely if he wants. However, he is no longer allowed to interrupt and interfere with his other classmates’ education.”
“If any OTHER student was disruptive in class, they would be given the same treatment. Quite frankly, it’s astounding that people keep forgetting that actions have consequences.” ~ adriesty
It’s all about respect.