Teachers Aren’t The Only Ones Teaching Lessons

, , , , , , , , | Learning | August 5, 2020

I was in an advanced class in high school; we were supposed to be the “smart” guys.

The new teacher had the habit of stomping into the classroom for every lesson. He would noisily stomp onto the short podium and forcefully throw his books on the teacher’s desk. I assume he did that to assure he got our attention.

The class quickly became fed up with the teacher’s repeated displays. Some of the students moved the teacher’s desk so the front legs were just barely on the front portion of the podium.

When the teacher next arrived, he did his usual attention-getter, making plenty of noise and throwing his books on the desk. The front of the desk fell off the podium, and the angle caused his books to slide off to the floor. None of the students laughed. All stared at the teacher.

The expression on the teacher’s face was priceless. He looked at the staring faces and shouted, “Who did that?”

There was no answer, just more stares. He then raised the desk back to its proper position and went on with the lesson. He never tried the stomping and throwing again.

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Lack Of Empathy Trumps Anxiety… Or Reality

, , , , , , | Learning | August 4, 2020

We all have that one teacher: the teacher that is completely horrible, has no empathy for your situation, and just does everything to make your life a living Hell. I had one of those. 

She was the type of teacher who would assign a lot of homework every day. It didn’t matter if it was the first day of school or the day before leaving for Thanksgiving break, Christmas vacation, or Easter vacation. Not only that, but we all also had huge projects to do every month. Papier-mâché a planet, create a dragon for Chinese new year, even a complete project of one of the fifty states. She also made plays that we would have to perform on top of that.

The worst part was that she would assign the homework and then teach us about it the next day, so we had to figure it out before we were actually taught it.

I was a special needs student, so I was only supposed to have a set amount of homework every night. She still expected me to do all of it, no ifs, ands, or buts. If I didn’t, I would still have to do it the next day for one letter grade less. My parents complained; she didn’t care. Cue anxiety attacks.

The last straw came in the second week of June. We were cleaning out our desks one Friday when she announced that she had tonight’s homework: two sheets of English, a sheet of math, and a sheet of science.

That’s right; she assigned homework on the last day of school. And once again, it was stuff we hadn’t even learned yet. Also, we had already turned in our textbooks the previous day so we were up a creek without a paddle.

Here’s another thing. We were at an American elementary school on a US Air Force Base in England. Half the class had a parent who was getting transferred either to another duty station internationally or back in the United States. They couldn’t turn the work in because they weren’t going to be there. She said we couldn’t mail it; we had to physically hand it in.

When we students mentioned to her that there was no real way for them to hand the work to her, she said, “I don’t care. Turn it in on the first day of fifth grade, or I’m not passing you. You’ll repeat the fourth grade again.“ Our pleas fell on deaf ears. 

Since it was a half-day on the last day of school, I mentioned this to my mom and she and I bolted back to the school to complain to the principal. It turned out that no less than ten other parents were already there, including my best friend’s mom and my crush’s dad. 

My mum had the loudest voice there, saying that I have had high anxiety the entire year because of the amount of work she forced on me even though I wasn’t supposed to have it. I had never seen her so pissed off at anyone that wasn’t either me or my two older brothers. 

We had just gotten home when we received a phone call from the principal. He told us that we didn’t have to do the homework and that the teacher would be dealt with accordingly. Hearing that, I was so relieved that I didn’t have to do any summer homework.

When I showed up the first day of fifth grade, the principal came up to me and told me that our teacher was removed. He apologized for the amount of stress I had the previous school year, and he made sure that I had one of the more popular fifth-grade teachers who knew how I was. 

My fifth-grade year went a h*** of a lot better than my fourth-grade one.

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A Move Everyone Can Doo!

, , , , | Learning | August 4, 2020

My colleague is singing songs with a group of two-year-olds. She is asking them to think of actions they could do for the song “If You’re Happy And You Know It.” Most of the ideas up to this point have been sensible — jump, wave, etc.

Colleague: “If you’re happy and you know it…”

Two-Year-Old: “POO!”

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Math Skills! Ooh Ha Ha!

, , , , , , , | Learning | August 3, 2020

I am a private tutor. To make math more fun for my students, I often play a modified version of a Pompeii-themed boardgame with them during our lessons. For every question they answer correctly, they get a certain number of moves — depending on the question’s difficulty — to help their pawns escape the city, which gets increasingly consumed by lava as the rounds continue. For every wrong answer, they forfeit their turn and I get to move my pawns instead. The person with the most escaped pawns by the end of the game is the “winner”.

To try to instill a habit of always checking their work, I’ve also created a rule that if they don’t read over their steps or at least double-check the question again when they get to their answer, I get to just take one of their pawns and pop it straight into the volcano in the corner of the board. I am brutal with this and it has worked tremendously well; I don’t usually have to punt a pawn into a volcano more than once or twice before double-checking their work becomes an automatic process. 

I am playing this game with one of my fourth-graders — age nine. After giving him a two-digit multiplication question, I look over and check his answer once he’s finished — and double-checked!

Me: “You missed something in your addition there. Check that last column again.”

Student: “What do you mean?”

Me: “That shouldn’t be a zero. Check it again.”

Student: “No, that’s a nine!”

I take the whiteboard back from him, at which point I can see that he indeed wrote a nine, not a zero; I missed the “tail” of the nine from the angle I was viewing it from and the fact that he’d written the answer right on the edge of the board. But he got the right answer, fair and square.

Me: “Whoops, you’re right. It is a nine. Sorry, I thought that was a zero. My bad.”

Without skipping a beat, the student wordlessly takes one of my pawns off the board, and, without breaking eye contact, puts it straight into the volcano.

Me: “…”

Student: *Deadpan* “You didn’t double-check.”

Okay, kiddo. You win this round!

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They Don’t Seem Great With English, Either. Or Patience.

, , , , , | Learning | August 3, 2020

This takes place in July 2020. I work at a university. At this university, there are two departments with similar names, both with “Education” in them. One department, where I work, deals with teacher education. The other department, Continuing Education, deals with classes offered to the community — think the cooking classes, typing classes, and so on, that you often find at a university. As the names are too similar, we tend to get a lot of calls and messages for the Continuing Education department.

I get a message on our department’s social media from a person asking to speak with an advisor. Even though it is after office hours — we close at 5:00 — I like to keep our response rate up by answering simple questions.

Person, 5:20 pm: “I need to speak with an advisor.”

Me, 5:22 pm: “Hi! You’ll need to make an appointment to see an advisor. You can do so here: [link].”

It is a fairly simple interaction, and I don’t think anything of it. We obviously cannot give people anything more than directory information via social media message, and I am not an advisor. I hop in my car and drive home.

Person, 5:48 pm: “When are you guys going to have Japanese classes back.”

Person, 5:49 pm: “?”

Person, 5:50 pm: “??”

Person, 5:51 pm: “Um, hello???”

Person, 5:52 pm: “Are you there?”

Person, 5:53 pm: “???”

I see these messages and think this person must have mixed up the departments, as many people do.

Me, 5:54 pm: “Hi, [Person], [My Department] does not offer Japanese classes. However, the [Continuing Education department] might have information on Japanese language courses being offered for personal enrichment; you can reach them at [email and phone number].”

Person, 5:54 pm: “But why do you guys have Japanese classes on your website?”

Person, 5:55 pm: “I’m checking right now and it says, ‘Japanese language classes.’”

I manage our department’s website, so I know it doesn’t say that. But to be sure, I ask.

Me, 5:56 pm: “Can you show me what website you’re looking on?”

Person, 5:58 pm: “Sure, just let me look for it.”

Person, 7:02 pm: “[Link]”

Person, 7:03 pm: “That’s what it says on you guys’ website.”

Person, 7:04 pm: “Japanese language classes.”

Person, 7:05 pm: “?”

Person, 7:07 pm: “I don’t know why you guys have Japanese classes on your website when you don’t have any Japanese language classes to begin with.”

Person, 7:08 pm: “Never mind. I’ll look somewhere else.”

While they have been sending these messages, I have been cooking dinner. I look at the link they sent me. It is an archived news article — clearly marked — dated from September of 2006, about the importance of learning different languages. It starts with the line, “Last week, President Bush announced…”

Me, 7:10 pm: “This appears to be an archived news article from 2006. Unfortunately, this information is not current. However, you can see current offerings on the [Continuing Education department] website at [link].”

Person, 7:10 pm: “[Message is marked as read.]”

She never responded to that one, but she left an angry voicemail on my coworker’s phone — not sure where she found the number — about how whoever is running our social media — i.e., me — is super rude and how dare we advertise Japanese classes on our website?!

We all got a good laugh out of that one, and I shared her contact information with the [Continuing Education department].

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