I'm a new member of Teach for America, and I'm in the middle of the teacher boot camp. This requires an immense amount of group work between myself and three co-teachers. Everything would be great in our group if one man didn't constantly pick his nose. It's nauseating, and I want to say something to him about this disgusting habit. He stares off into space with a finger halfway up his nose, and then looks at the boogers and flicks them. He also scoops in his ears and looks at the wax, and is constantly rubbing his face. It's driving me nuts! How should I bring this up to him so that I don't permanently damage our ability to work well together? Everyone else in the group has noticed and is also disgusted but too chicken to do anything.
It might be best for you to keep your nose out of it and try to ignore him. Soon enough you'll be off to your assignment and will look back wistfully and think, "Once, my partner's booger flicking was the most difficult thing I had to deal with." Since what you describe sounds like somewhat compulsive behavior on his part, I wonder if he's actually got some kind of tic-type disorder. If he does, a supervisor should be aware of this. In any case, his behavior is going to compromise his classroom management, so in that spirit it would not be out of line for you to talk to someone about these disturbing habits. Finally, if you decide to speak to him directly, think of it as good experience for challenging classroom conversations. You can say something like, "Lance, you may not even be fully aware of this, but you have a habit of picking your nose. It's distracting to observe, so if you could make an effort to stop, I'd really appreciate it." If he puts a lid on it, his future students will be in your debt.
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More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
"This Baby Shower Is a Wash: Dear Prudence advises a reader who thinks her brother impregnated his girlfriend to steal her own baby's thunder—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com." Posted March 21, 2011.
"Teacher Gone Wild: Dear Prudence advises a schoolteacher caught on tape acting a drunken fool—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com." Posted March 14, 2011.
"Dead Letters at the Office: Prudie counsels an office worker who found love letters while cleaning out the desk of a recently deceased colleague that are not from her widower—and other advice-seekers." Posted March 7, 2011.
"Nightmare Vacation: Prudie counsels a reader who regrets her promise to take an ailing family member to Disneyland—in this week's live chat." Posted Feb. 28, 2011.
*Correction, July 2, 2011: Due to an editing error, the column initially stated that there would be a live chat on Monday at Washingtonpost.com. The chat will take place Tuesday, July 5, because of the July 4th holiday.
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