Stories from school and college

Kicking Butt Knows No Gender

, , , , | Learning | February 19, 2021

I am genderfluid, but I was assigned female at birth. I am on the wrestling team, and we have to wear jackets on the days of meets. 

Girl: “Oh, it’s so cute that your boyfriend gave that to you!”

Me: “Oh, um, no, actually. This is mine.”

Girl: “No! it has to be your boyfriend’s!”

Me: “[Girl]… Um… I’m gay.”

Girl: “So? What does that have to do with this?”

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Art Is… Complicated

, , , , , , | Learning | February 17, 2021

I was a physics major, but there were still some general education courses that were required. Although a few had some useful information, most of them were worthless. I went to the first few classes, and if I found that they contained no useful information, I would not read the books or go to the lectures except when needed. One of these courses was called “Survey of the Arts.”

For my midterm essay, I argued that art movements typically have patterns opposing societal change, such as the “Romanticism” art movement standing against increasing industrialization and a decreasing sense of individual dignity.

For my final essay, I argued that art movements typically have patterns reflecting societal change, such as the “Realism” art movement being caused by increasing industrialization and a decreasing sense of individual dignity.

I got good grades on both.

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You Know What That Is? Growth.

, , , , | Learning | February 15, 2021

In the early 2010s, I was in high school taking a math course. It was the first class of the day and we had a really wonderful, punctual teacher. One day, she didn’t show up, no teachers came into the room, and after forty minutes — much to the anger of twenty other teenagers — I went to alert the office, worried something had happened to her.

The teacher was fine, but I became the center of horrific bullying in that class as a few of the students got in a lot of trouble for their actions while we were not supervised. Some of my favorites included shoving, spitting on my homework, and throwing plastic Easter eggs with slips of paper in them at me — the eggs were for a fun math game — hard enough to crack the plastic and bruise.

Most of this was led by this super senior; she was held back her senior year and was in her fifth year of high school. This bully went out of her way to make sure I was miserable that entire semester, and she was the reason I hated Easter eggs for years.

Fast forward to 2019, nearly a decade later. I am at a bar with two friends and my long-term boyfriend. The friends grew up around here but moved away years ago and are just in town to visit and catch up with people. A lot of people are coming to our booth to say hi and catch up with all of us. One of them is a woman a year or two older than me, covered in tattoos. She looks sort of familiar and is super thrilled to see [Friend].

I guess she thinks I look familiar, too, because she squints at me a little and finally asks if we used to go to high school together. After a few seconds of trying to remember where we know each other from, her face lights up with excitement. 

Woman: “Oh, yeah! We were in [Teacher]’s class together!”

Me: “Oh, yeah. You were the b**** who threw plastic Easter eggs at me.”

Cue deafening silence from the table. [Woman]’s face runs through a whole range of emotions, from shock, to remembrance, to horror, to complete embarrassment. [Friend] is glaring at her angrily; she’s heard the story before and is connecting the dots. My boyfriend looks like he might kick her out of the bar himself and our other friend is just shocked. 

Suddenly, [Woman], with all the charisma and emotions of a drunk woman, reaches out and takes my hands, her eyes tearing up.

Woman: “Oh. My. God! I have been trying to find out where you were for years! I am so, soooo sorry for everything! I was so unbelievably horrible to you and took out so many things on you, and it wasn’t until I got older that I realized how terrible I was! I was such a b**** to you and I’m so, so, so, so sorry!”

I don’t know what I expected, but it was not that. I just tell her it’s cool and it’s in the past; we were dumb kids and we can move forward now. Her whole face lights up again. 

Woman: “You are like, totally, seriously the best, Egg Girl! Besties! Can I put this on Insta?”

We never became friends, but I did let her take a selfie of us to “confess her crimes” online, and for the next year until the health crisis closed down the bars, we would occasionally run into each other out on the town. She would stop everything just to point me out to her friends and go, “That’s Egg Girl! I threw plastic Easter eggs at her in high school. I was suuuch a b**** to her!” 

Life is like a bunch of plastic Easter eggs; you never know what you’re going to get, I guess.

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Give Students Room To Flourish, And They Usually Do

, , , , , , | Learning | February 12, 2021

I teach gifted kids, and contrary to the stereotype, some of them have academic disabilities compounded by anxiety, ADHD, and autism, to name a few. A student of mine, an eighth-grader, has documented anxiety and ADHD with accommodations. [Student] had a math teacher who insisted that they were playing the system. [Teacher] regularly refused to give [Student] the time allotted for tests in the accommodations, despite begging from me, calls from parents, and being called into the principal’s office.

In one of our go-arounds, [Teacher] claimed not to have the time to allow [Student] to finish tests because of the next classes coming in, and [Teacher] didn’t want cheating by looking problems up between class and study hall. I offered to escort [Student] from [Teacher’s] room to mine, and that was okay.

I set [Student] up in a secluded corner of my room and they went to work… and work… and work. I had students after my prep period, so I warned [Student] that other students would be coming in.

I was about halfway through my lesson with some sixth graders, and I asked a question.

Me: “What were Archimedes’ last words?”

Silence.

Right before I was about to answer, a disembodied voice came from the secluded corner of my room.

Student: “Don’t disturb my circles!”

At least I knew the eighth-grader listened when in sixth grade! And they aced the math test.

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Too Much Bud?

, , , , | Learning | February 8, 2021

I am a hard-of-hearing college student. I own hearing aids but only ever use them for class because I find them very uncomfortable. My current pair is Bluetooth and connects to my phone. This happens about two years ago when I first get them. I am walking to my classroom and putting in my hearing aids and turning them on so I can have a moment to let them sync. Another student grabs my arm.

Student: “Woah, dude, those are some interesting buds.”

Me: *Extremely confused* “Buds?”

Student: “You know, your earbuds? What brand are they? They look super secure.”

I stare at him for a second, admittedly mentally fried because it is early and I am heading to a class I dread taking.

Me: “Ohhh! You don’t want these. They are hearing aids.”

Student: “I haven’t heard of that brand— Wait. Never mind. Congrats on hearing, man.”

He patted me on the shoulder and kept walking. It was a weird semi-wholesome interaction, and it kept me giggling throughout my next class.

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