Coming To (Mid)Terms With A Bad Teacher

, , , , | Learning | August 4, 2017

(I had the same teacher for Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 while I was in high school. This teacher often picked favorites and treated me as if I was stupid because I was quiet and too afraid to participate, since he always mocked me when I got the answer wrong in class. On the first day of class, my teacher had said that no one had to be afraid to go to him for help because he would be more than glad to tutor us one on one with any problems we were having trouble with. I have never been good with math and I was struggling a lot. When my grade started to slip I went to him for help and he refused to tutor me saying I needed to figure it out on my own. During my sophomore year, I get really sick and miss all of my midterm exams due to being hospitalized for a week. The principal has given all of my teachers instructions to let me take my midterms in an empty, quiet classroom on my first day back and all of my teachers, with the exception of my algebra teacher, are really understanding. After my algebra class has ended, I go to my teacher’s desk to talk to him about making up my exam, when this exchange occurs.)

Teacher: “Hello, [My Name]! I see you are back; how was your week of ditching school to miss your midterms?”

(Thinking he’s joking, I smile but when I see he’s not smiling back, I know he is being serious.)

Me: “Oh, I wasn’t ditching. I was really sick and hospitalized all week. If you don’t believe me you can ask Mr. [Principal] as he has all of the medical forms I brought in today. And you can talk to Mrs. [Other Teacher]; she is a close family friend and visited me while I was sick to bring my school work to me.”

Teacher: “And you picked an excellent week to be ‘hospitalized’ during the week of your important math midterm. I am not an idiot, [My Name]. You purposely skipped school because you weren’t prepared for your math midterm and you were afraid you were going to fail as usual so you took a week off so you can have more study time for your midterms. If you think you are going to come back and be able to take your exam you are wrong. You can take a zero.”

(Instead of going to my next class, I immediately go to the office and complain about the teacher. They take his side and say there is nothing they can do because it’s my math teacher’s decision on whether or not I can make it up. Not knowing what to do, I call my dad during free period and tell him what is going on and he is livid. Within five minutes, he calls me on my phone to tell me he is in the parking lot and to meet him by the office so we can talk to the principal.)

Dad: “This is completely unacceptable! My daughter comes back from being hospitalized all week just for her teacher to accuse her of ditching and giving her a zero? This excuse of a teacher does nothing but preach how his students shouldn’t be afraid to come to him for help but has been treating my daughter differently ever since she had him last year because she is quiet and doesn’t like to participate in class, because he mocks her for being wrong. If it says in the syllabus that no student should be afraid to come to him for extra help or tutoring then why is he telling [My Name] he can’t help or to figure it on her own when she needs help?!”

(After a couple of moments of silence, my principal finally looks up at us apologetically.)

Principal: “You are absolutely right, [Dad], and I am so sorry this happened to you, [My Name]. I will talk to Mr. [Teacher] and tell him to let you take your exam in a quiet room and I will talk to him about helping you with tutoring as well. No student should feel like they are being treating differently. I can assure you, I will take care of it.”

(The next day I go to my algebra class and my teacher calls me over to his desk. Without saying anything, he hands me the midterm and a calculator, and when I ask him what classroom I should go to take it, he says I’m not going anywhere and tells me to go take it at my desk. When the bell rings, he goes to the front of the room and says they are going to be doing something different today.)

Teacher: “Everyone sit on your desk. We are going to be playing Math Speedball to review for your upcoming exam.”

(Speedball is a game where the students sit on the top of their desks and the teacher will throw a bouncy ball at them and ask a question. They will answer it and throw it to the next person. The whole time while I am trying to take this exam, I am unable to concentrate because the class has gotten so loud and excited and sometimes the students sitting next to me will miss and the ball slams on my desk. Knowing I am for sure going to fail this exam, I still manage to do the best I can and turn it in at the end of the class.)

Teacher: *smugly* “How was it?”

Me: “Well, with everyone playing that game, it was so loud I couldn’t even concentrate on what I was doing.”

Teacher: *coldly* “Well, you should’ve thought of that before you missed midterm week. I’m not going out of my way to change my lesson plans for you.”

(I did end up failing the midterm exam. When I explained what happened to my dad, he made another trip to the school to complain about my teacher again. The principal was furious at my teacher, and told him not to include my midterm score into my final grade for the semester and that I would be exempt from the midterm all together. My teacher was written up for not letting me take it in an empty and quiet classroom like the principal told him to do, but he didn’t get fired. After that incident, I went to my counselor and was able to switch to a different teacher, who was actually willing to help me and it has improved my math grade tremendously. At the end of my sophomore year I heard from another classmate that he was told by the superintendent he wouldn’t be returning for the upcoming school year due to getting many other complaints from other students and their parents.)

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