As If You Were Thrown Under The Bus

, , , , , | Learning | November 29, 2019

(I’m in seventh grade. I ride the bus to and from school, which leaves at 3:20 sharp every day. One day, my homeroom teacher doesn’t let us out until 3:20 — which is a whole other frustrating story in and of itself, believe me — and, of course, this causes me to miss the bus. So, I go to the office and meet with one of the secretaries.) 

Me: “Excuse me. [Teacher] didn’t let us out until pretty late, so I kind of missed the bus.”

Secretary: “Well, I’ll call and have them send in someone to pick you up, but I’m not gonna be able to bug them every time. It’s your responsibility to get down to the bus on time.”

Me: “But I just told you, my teacher let us out really late. I didn’t really have a choice.”

Secretary: *deadpan* “Okay.”

(She goes into her office and talks with the bus company on the phone for a few moments before coming back out.) 

Secretary: “They’ll send someone to pick you up as soon as they can.”

Me: “Thank you.”

Secretary: “No problem, but next time, it really is important that you get to the front door on time.”

Me: “I tried to, but once again, my teacher let the class out ten minutes late.”

Secretary: “Well, okay, but still.”

(The bus comes a few minutes later, so I gather my things and go down to the front door.) 

Secretary: “Have a good rest of your day, [My Name]. But remember, you need to manage your time better. It’s your responsibility to be down here on time for the bus.”

Me: *giving up at this point* “Yes, ma’am. I’ll keep that in mind.”

(Luckily, both my dad and the bus driver understood the concept of “teacher error” a lot better than the secretary.)

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It’s The Teachers That Need To Be Graded

, , , , , , | Learning | November 29, 2019

My friend is a teacher at a private high school. He’s one of two science teachers, as the school is pretty small. The other science teacher has been there for years and is very set in her ways. She believes there’s one way to teach, and if students don’t pick up on the material, too bad for them. She prides herself on the fact that “only a few students get As” in her class. Apparently, the teacher who was there before my friend also had a similar mentality, so it was very difficult for most of those students to get good grades in science.

My friend, on the other hand, believes that everyone is capable of getting an A if they’re willing to put in the effort, and is willing to help students during free periods and after classes, while the other teacher is not. My friend is new to teaching, so after he submitted his first-quarter grades, he got pulled into a meeting with the principal and the other science teacher. Apparently, the students in my friend’s class had “too many As” and he was being reprimanded for not making his class rigorous enough. The whole time, the other teacher kept giving him smug looks and making comments about how some people just weren’t cut out for teaching, if they didn’t have a firm enough hand for it. Basically, it came out that when his class’s grade average was way higher than hers, she threw a fit insisting it must be because he was giving his students easy As, because there was no way that many high schoolers could master the sciences to that extent.

He asked for a copy of her tests for the next units they were going into, and said he wanted to administer those to his class, since she thought his weren’t rigorous enough. The principal agreed and told my friend that he should use this as a learning opportunity, so he could “determine the level of difficulty” he should be striving for.

My friend taught that unit the same way he taught every single unit prior to it. He took time with students who were struggling, was always willing to repeat and review difficult concepts, and made himself available for whenever they could meet with him for extra help. At the end of the unit, both he and the other teacher administered the same test. 

In his class, the average grade was 92%. In the other teacher’s class, the average was 76%. The principal called him back in and checked that he hadn’t given extra credit or special help during the test. My friend swore he hadn’t, and then, in the most respectful way possible, told the principal that he thought that maybe the problem wasn’t that his class was too easy.

The other teacher is currently being retrained.

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Gurrommering Home The Accent

, , , , | Learning | November 28, 2019

(I work for a college in Dudley in the UK. Dudley is in a region called “The Black Country” and is known for the impenetrability of the accent to non-speakers. Google “Black Country accent” and give it a listen; you’ll be amazed! I come from about ten miles away, and I still struggle to understand occasionally. One of the courses I work on at the college teaches basic building site skills, including carpentry and brickwork. All of the students on the course come from the local area, and all speak with an accent to some degree. However, one particular student has an accent so thick I have to really listen to understand what he is saying. We are in a carpentry class, and I am walking around the workshop keeping an eye on things and helping students when necessary. The student waves to me and calls me over.)

Student: “Ayoumgurrommer?”

Me: “What?”

Student: “Ayyowoumgurrommer?”

Me: “…?”

Student: *starting to get frustrated* “Ayyy… Yowum…”

(Through many years of comprehension, I know this to be “Have you…”)

Me: “Okay. ‘Have you…’”

Student: “Gurrommer?

Me: “Gur Ommer? What is that?”

(He begins to mime an action; he holds up his fist and moves it up and down, pivoting at the elbow.)

Student: “Ommer! ‘Ommer!”

Me: *realisation dawning* “A hammer?”

Student: “Yes! ‘Ommer!”

(I found him a hammer and walked away, disappointed I was still struggling to understand someone who lived ten miles away, and apparently spoke the same language as me.)

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Krav Ma-Gahd Will You Shut Up!

, , , , , , | Learning | November 28, 2019

I’ve started taking krav maga to get in shape, and before my fourth or fifth lesson, I go in an hour early for open mat time to practice. During this time, one of the instructors and I talk about our personal lives. It’s a Friday and his day job is as a substitute teacher, so he jokes about how he’s happy not to have to deal with any more kids for the weekend.

Almost immediately after he says this, a boy between the ages of 13 and 14 walks in, no parents in sight. I already know this isn’t going to end well, as the gym has special youth classes that he should be enrolled in instead of attending an adult class, but I try to cut him some slack since the time and class he’s in are likely his parents’ choice, not his.

At the start of class, everyone is curious as to whether or not we’ll practice disarming people with the “weapons” — weighted replicas — due to a prominent shooting the day before, and our instructor tells us we won’t. Despite this, the kid continuously asks the instructor questions about the weapons and if we’ll be using them throughout the class, and of course, the instructor tells him no each time.

In addition, he doesn’t pay attention to the instructor in favor of hitting the punching bags with random punches and kicks that don’t match anything we’ve learned. At one point, he starts complaining of his wrist hurting, which is a surprise to exactly no one. The instructor has to spend most of his time keeping an eye on this kid and his partner to make sure he doesn’t kill himself or anyone else instead of correcting form on anyone else, even when people ask him for help or what they’re doing wrong.

Eventually, I’m the unlucky one partnered with him for a type of kick I’m just learning for the first time that day, and I make sure to go slow to ensure I’m following the proper form, as our instructor told us to do. Despite this, my kicks easily make this kid, who’s holding a pad, stumble back each time. Then, the kid starts trying to give me (primarily incorrect) instructions, which is honestly testing my patience.

I don’t want to lose it and start yelling at the kid, so I focus on my breathing and stance and pretty much tune him out. However, at one point, he bends over while I’m mid-kick, resulting in me jamming my toe. Thankfully, as stated, I was going relatively slowly and without much power behind it, so it’s not too bad, but I’m officially miffed. When he tries to tell me for the millionth time to put my full power behind the kick — note that I’ve told him repeatedly that I want to focus on my form, not on power — I finally give in and do so.

The kid falls onto his back, air knocked out of him, and I hear the other students trying not to laugh. I help the kid up and we get back to practicing, but he finally stops talking and lets me work on my form without interruption.

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Something Fishy About That Name

, , , | Learning | November 27, 2019

(I am an American teaching English in China. Sometimes there are extra one-off classes that parents can sign their children up for outside of their regular classes. I am teaching one of those this morning. For regular classes, I have a roll sheet with all the students’ names. This is very helpful when I cover a class for another teacher. Unfortunately, the one-off classes do not come with roll sheets, so I have to ask the students for their names, which I write on the board. This one-off class has a range of kids from different classes in the lower to middle levels for the seven- to ten-year-old classes. One of the students has recently started the first-level class for that age group, so he only knows some of the basics and his pronunciation is not always very clear.)

Me: “What’s your name?”

Student: “Salmon.”

Me: “Salmon? Your name is Salmon?”

Student: “Yes.”

(A lot of parents pick strange names for their kids. I’ve met Run-Baby, Dinosaur, Lemon, the list goes on. So, I write Salmon on the board and continue on. During the class, I ask the students about his name.)

Me: “You know salmon is a kind of fish?”

Student: *doesn’t seem to understand me*

Me: *brings up a picture of some salmon on my phone* “It’s a salmon.”

Student: *looks surprised* “No fish! No fish!”

(I chuckle and move on with class, but for the remaining of the hour, when I call on him, before he answers, he always first says, “No fish!”)

Me: “I know. You are not a fish, but your name is a fish.”

Student: “No fish!”

(The class ends and I gather my materials for my next class, which is a first-level class for the same age group which I am covering for another teacher, so this time I have a roll sheet. I walk into class, and to my surprise, who do I see there? Salmon! I realize something is not right, because I would have remembered seeing a name like Salmon on a roll sheet of ten students. I look down at my roll sheet and see a single S name: Simon.)

Me: “Oh! Your name is Simon!

Student: “Yes!”

Me: “Not Salmon.”

Student: “No!”

Me: *face descending into my open hand* “That’s why you kept saying, ‘No fish.'”

Student: “No fish!”

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