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Few Things Are As Gross As Teachers On Power Trips

, , , , , , , , , , | Learning | November 17, 2023

For the most part, I got along with my teachers growing up. My ninth-grade (freshman) English teacher, however, absolutely hated my guts.

I was in school sports, on both the wrestling and football teams, and I was on the school chess team, so I had to take a lot of days off for events. This specific teacher looked up the days I would be away and doubled the homework due after those days, knowing I wouldn’t be able to finish it all. (Yes, I know that was a lot of clubs. I was an overachiever in high school. I kind of regret it now; it cost me a lot in lost time and stress.)

She didn’t check the homework every single day, but she always did after those long away periods!

Worse, she would give me low grades — seventies and eighties — on my papers that had very few notations or marks, but I would talk with other children and see that their papers were heavily marked up but would be scored in the nineties.

After one particularly low grade — sixty-four — on an assignment that I had busted my a** off for and knew I had performed particularly well on, I asked her about it.

Teacher: “You’re only using about half of your total capacity, but these other students are doing 100% of their total capacity. I have higher expectations for you than for them.”

Me: “So, you mean that if my paper is better than, say, [Classmate]’s paper… you’re going to give me fewer points because you think I’m smarter than him?”

Teacher: *Smiling and nodding* “Yes! Exactly!”

What. A. B****.

If that wasn’t bad enough, she gave us an opportunity for extra credit: we had to go to a local college’s rendition of a play called “Eye Piece” and write a 2,500-word paper on it, tie it to what we discussed in class over the play, and turn in the ticket and playbill.

It was due on Monday. The play ran late Friday through Sunday, so there was no way to do it and turn it in ahead of time. But I was going to miss Monday for a competition — a huge competition that our school only got into because we placed highly in our circuit during the year.

I asked her if I could turn it in on Tuesday, and I got confirmation that I could multiple times — over and over, every day, the whole week in the run-up to the event.

I busted my f****** a** off writing that paper after the play so that it wouldn’t interfere with my event. Come Tuesday, she wouldn’t accept it.

Teacher: “That would be unfair to the students who got their assignments in on time. I don’t remember ever telling you that I’d accept it today. You should’ve dropped it off yesterday after your event.”

(At least the play was very good. I recommend watching it if they ever put on a production of it near you.)

I finally got my revenge during the final exam. It was a 105-question exam scored out of 100; the final five questions, for an extra point each, were “freebies”. “What did you learn in this class?” “What was your favorite part of the class?” “How do you plan to apply what you learned in this class to your life?” And so on.

I gave her both barrels. I said, “Because you never left comments on how to improve on my papers, I didn’t learn anything.” I said, “My favorite part of this class is that it’s over.” I said, “I plan to use what I learned in this class to better recognize bosses and other superiors when I finally start working.”

I gave many examples of the things she’d done, the mean things she’d said to me, and the names she’d occasionally called me (she often referred to me as “The Jock” as though it was an insult), and used them to support my positions in my little essays, as I proved that she was the most terrible teacher I had ever had and that she was hurting not just me, but the other students in the class with her terrible teaching style. 

I spent all the time I had left after finishing the rest of the test pouring my pain into those bonus questions.

I finished the test and went to wait in the study hall for a bit before my next final.

The teacher confronted me in that study hall with snot running down her face and demanded that I see her at the principal’s office.

There, she told her side of the story first, crying, screaming, and choking with tears. I apparently had hurt her feelings very badly and was a very ungrateful student. I mostly tuned her out as I prepared my defense.

The principal then asked for my side of the story, and I explained. I even was able to read sections from the answers I had given. The principal listened attentively to my venting about all of the s*** and abuse I’d gone through that year. (It had been a lot, much of which I am not mentioning here.)

The principal sighed and turned to the teacher.

Principal: “How many points were these questions worth?”

Me: “Five bonus points!”

Principal: “So, don’t give him any bonus points if you feel so put out by it.”

I still made the highest score in the class on the final, so I had that going for me.

I heard later that, after that performance, the next school year, the teacher had to have all of her assignments signed off by the department chair, and she had to begin accepting assignments by email.

A few years later, she chose another student to abuse like she had abused me, and this time, she got fired for it because they were actually watching her. Prior to my dramatic complaint, the administration hadn’t known she was a problematic teacher.

I had myself a little celebration on her firing-versery the next year, even though I had moved on to college by then. I made my whole dorm cinnamon rolls and refused to explain why.

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