And Jojo Was Her Name-o

, , , , , , | Learning | January 6, 2018

(Years ago, when my youngest aunt first attended school, she had until then been called “Jojo” by family and friends instead of her birth name. This wasn’t an issue until she started school.)

Teacher: “[Aunt]? [Aunt]? I guess she’s absent.”

(After roll call is done, my aunt raises her hand.)

Aunt: “You didn’t call me!”

Teacher: “I didn’t? What’s your name?”

Aunt: “Jojo!”

Teacher: “There’s no Jojo on the list; your name can’t be Jojo.”

Aunt: *getting upset now* “Yes, I am! I’m Jojo!”

Teacher: *light bulb goes off* “The only absent person is [Aunt], are you [Aunt]?”

Aunt: “NO! I am Jojo! My name’s Jojo!”

Teacher: “[Surname] is your last name, right?”

Aunt: “Yes!”

Teacher: “Then you’re [Aunt].”

Aunt: “NO! I said my name is Jojo!”

(She then proceeds to have a full-on tantrum, so the teacher drags her to the office and calls my grandmother to try to resolve the issue. My grandmother just laughs.)

Grandmother: “OH! Jojo is her nickname. I didn’t realize we were only calling her that. Yes, this is [Aunt].”

Aunt: *stomps her foot* “Mooooooom! You’re dumb! My. Name. Is. Jojo!”

(Forty years later, the family will not let my aunt live it down.)

It Will Be All Reich In The End

, , , , | Learning | December 21, 2017

(I teach computers at a small school. I’m working with a grade 3/4 class on coding. A student puts up her hand for help and I come around. She’s on a level where you’re supposed to program a character to skate around on a frozen lake and trace snowflakes into the ice with their skates.)

Student: “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but it doesn’t look like the example. It just keeps drawing squares!”

(I notice that the student has forgotten one important element of code that makes the character jump back to their original position after moving around.)

Me: “Oh, see here, you need this new block of code. See how in the instructions they tell you what it does? I’m guessing you ignored it because you haven’t seen it before. I’ll show you how it works and then I’ll let you play around with it to make whatever design you want.”

(I drag the missing block of code randomly into the student’s work, just to show her how it changes it. To my horror, when I press run, the character now draws a perfect swastika into the ice!)

Student: *excitedly* “Oh, cool. That’s really pretty!”

Me: *flustered* “Uhh, well, you can move it around in the code and maybe add onto it to make a proper snowflake—”

Student: “No, I like it! It looks so cool! Thanks!”

(And that’s how I taught an eight-year-old girl how to draw a swastika. Not my proudest teaching moment.)

A Niece Realization

, , , | Learning | December 18, 2017

(At the start of the day, each class has what we call “circle;” the students sit in a circle on the floor and we go around one by one and the students explain how they’re feeling that day and why. It’s part of socio-emotional learning for kids to work on identifying their emotions and communicating their feelings. This is a fifth grade class and I’ve given the students fake names for ease of understanding.)

Me: “All right. [Student #1], on a scale of zero to five, how are you today?”

Student #1: “I’m a ten!”

Me: Oh, wow! What’s so excellent in your world today?

Student #1: “I’m really happy. I have a new niece! My sister just had a baby.”

Me: “Awesome! What’s her name?”

Student #1: “Her name is Athena.”

Me: “What a beautiful name!” *I tell him a little about the Greek goddess Athena* “Thank you so much for sharing, [Student #1]. [Student #2], how are you today, zero to five?”

Student #2: “Can I also be a ten?”

Me: “If that’s how awesome you are, sure! Why are you a ten?”

Student #2: “My cousin just had a baby.”

(It isn’t at all uncommon for one student to say something nice that happened and another student to say the same thing happened — whether or not it did — just to connect or get equal attention. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt though.)

Me: “Wonderful! Lots of Christmas babies! Is it a boy or girl?”

Student #2: “Girl.”

Me: “Another girl! Do you know her name, yet?”

Student #2: “No. They haven’t told us. But we see her tonight when she goes home.”

Student #1: “My niece comes home today, too!”

Student #2: “Is that why I saw you at the hospital the other day?”

Student #1: “Yeah, we had just seen my niece!”

Student #2: “We were going to meet my cousin!”

Me: *I wonder why [Student #2] didn’t find out the baby’s name then, but I have a more pressing question* “[Student #2]… is it at all possible that your cousin is [Student #1]’s sister?”

Student #2: “No. [Student #1] is my cousin, though.”

Me: “If [Student #1]’s your cousin, isn’t [Student #1]’s sister also your cousin?”

Student #2: “Maybe?”

Student #1: “Yeah, she is!”

Me: “[Student #2]… I think you and [Student #1] are talking about the same baby.”

Student #2: *his eyes light up as he realizes this* “YEAH! Hey!” *turns to [Student #1]* “Your sister’s baby is my new baby cousin!”

Teacher Only Doing Half Their Job

, , , , | Hopeless | December 10, 2017

(My mom gets a call from my brother’s first grade teacher that he’s behind in class and will need to repeat the grade if he doesn’t improve. My mom brings her mom with her to the meeting, because my nana is a first grade teacher herself.)

Teacher: “[Brother] is doing very well in all his subjects except math; he hasn’t passed a single assignment this year.” *She begins laying the worksheets on the table, and Nana starts looking them over.*

Mom: “I don’t understand. I practiced addition and subtraction with him all summer, and he got it. He knows this stuff, he’s even started learning his times tables.”

Teacher: “Well, I’m sorry, I know it’s hard to hear, but if he doesn’t improve, he might need to go into remediation.”

Nana: “Wait a minute, he’s gotten exactly a fifty percent on all of these.”

Teacher: “Yes, that’s not a passable score.”

Nana: “No, no, look. He answers all the questions on the front perfectly, and doesn’t make a single mark on the back. He’s not bad at math, he’s bad at flipping pages!”

Teacher: “Oh!”

(Mom and Nana convinced her to keep him after school and let him make up all the backs of his worksheets, which he does perfectly. I know teaching’s really hard, but you’d think a college-educated woman would have noticed that he was only doing the front of the worksheets, rather than assume he’s remedial.)

Mom Offers Desk-Side Assistance

, , , , , | Learning | December 9, 2017

I didn’t have the best of times in elementary school, and most of my memories of it are the negative kind. However, talking with my mom about this years later, she told me about a day that she remembered in particular.

My fourth grade teacher, for whatever reason, decided that she didn’t like me. I always figured it was because I was shy, tended to stay out of classroom activities, and would always try to read books under my desk (understandably something I shouldn’t do). What my mom told me is that the teacher also apparently hated how I would arrange my desk, the kind with the cubbies underneath to stow books and pencils in. My desk was always messy and never organized, and definitely not to the teacher’s standards. This made her absolutely furious.

One day, my mom happened to drop me off at my classroom before the rest of the kids were there, but the teacher was in. What we found was the entire contents of my desk; pencils, books, worksheets, everything, dumped on the floor and thrown all around the room! If I’d gone into class with all the other students, I would’ve had to pick everything up in front of the whole class and been completely embarrassed.

Seeing as how she caught the teacher red-handed, my mom had every right to go off on her, but instead, Mom simply stood as I gamely gathered all my things and stared my teacher down, unblinking. Then when I was done, she stared a little longer, and left without a word.

I didn’t have trouble with that teacher for the rest of the year! My mom scared her enough to prevent anything else from happening. I can’t believe I don’t remember this event today, but it’s probably thanks to chance, and my mom, for saving me from being humiliated in front of the entire class!

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