Go Big Or Go Home, Right?

, , , , , , | Learning | April 20, 2019

This is a “smart” student story. About 30 years ago, when I was just starting out as a teacher and having to be a substitute, I was called into this high school. No big deal. One day turned into two, then three and more. Then, I was told that the teacher I was subbing for would likely be out for the rest of the year, and they asked if I’d be interested in applying for the position. I had a quick interview with the principal and two members of the department after school and I was in. Yay!

I started about the beginning of October. There were six classes, three different courses, one of which was brand new, so there were no materials yet. But I was young and full of energy. After a few weeks, my department head had a talk with me about the approaching first-term report cards. Note: at this time, teachers filled out reports on those three-copy NCR forms. The student’s info was printed on top, but we had to hand-write the grade, add any comments in the space provided, and then sign it. My department head said that, as I would be merging my marks with the ones already recorded by the teacher I was replacing, and that I hadn’t really gotten a chance to know the students, to just record the grade, leave the comments section blank, and sign them. I did just that.

Sometime the morning after the reports went home, I got a message to call the mother of one of my students. On my first break, I called and identified myself. She said she had a question about her son’s report card. I was thinking the worst, that this was a parent going to beg, plead, or bully her kid into a higher grade. Nope. She was concerned about the comment. I told her that, due to the circumstances, I had made no comments on any of the report cards. She started howling with laughter, then read me the comment on her son’s card. It was over the top: best student ever, great class participation, and so on.

The reason she’d called was that all the comments from his other teachers were pretty much what she expected — work not done, more effort required, etc. — and she was curious about the one rave review. We had a good laugh about how if her son had just toned it down a bit she wouldn’t have noticed. She said she’d talk to the boy, and I took no further action than, when I asked that kid’s class if their parents had any questions about their report cards, to focus on this boy with my best imitation of laser eyes. His response told me Mum had talked to him.

I hope he learned something. I learned to never sign a document while leaving a space blank — put a slash through it.

The “Shocking” Puns Just Write Themselves

, , , , | Learning | April 16, 2019

My father’s science teacher started the semester by telling the class that under no circumstances were students allowed to sleep in class. He didn’t mind if you decided to stare out the window or even get up and stretch your legs for a minute, just so long as you didn’t fall asleep. Several months later, the class found out why.

In the middle of class, he noticed a sleeping student. He broke off from his lecture and went to retrieve something from his desk, announcing, “And now, we’re going to learn about static electricity.”

He pulled out a static-electricity plasma ball, turned it on, and placed it against the sleeping student’s arm. The student didn’t wake up, and the teacher went on for a minute or two about how electricity travels from one object to another, all while the sleeper’s hair slooowly stood on end.

The teacher finished by saying that all that electricity going through the student’s body right then was completely harmless… “Unless, of course, someone were to take something metal like this ruler I’ve got in my hand right now and touch it to his skin like so…

Cue a very loud zap and the student in question jolting awake. The teacher promptly put away the plasma ball and continued with the lesson.

 

Tea Is The Warmest Color

, , , , , , | Hopeless | April 14, 2019

(I’ve loved books from a very early age, so when I was growing up it was only natural that whenever I went to a new school, I would very quickly become quite acquainted with the school librarians and their assistants. My high school librarian, an elderly woman, has a reputation for being quite strict, but has been nothing but lovely to me since the first day of school when I eagerly sought out the library to scope out the fiction section. In the second semester of my sophomore year — my 11th year of schooling for the non-Americans — I end up with a free period at the end of the day, which I choose to make into a teaching assistant period for the librarian. One day, I come in during flu season feeling a bit under the weather and I start to check in newly-returned books like I do every day.)

Me: *grimacing as I sniffle a bit but continuing work*

Librarian: “[My Name], are you feeling all right?”

Me: “Hm? Oh… I’m feeling a little sick, yeah. I’m okay, though.”

Librarian: “Oh, well, if you’re feeling sick do you want to just sit in the back today?”

(She’s told me this before on another occasion a month or so ago, but both times I felt guilty about the idea of sitting out when there’s work to be done and I’m not really feeling TERRIBLE, per se… but I have been having a pretty annoying day.)

Me: “Uh… yeah, actually. I think that’d be good.”

Librarian: “Yeah, you can sit and read in the back!”

Librarian’s Assistant: *a woman in her 40s* “Oh, yes, take it easy.”

(I grab a graphic novel off the shelf that I’d been eyeing and head to the back room. [Librarian] follows me soon after, placing a box of tissues on the back desk.)

Librarian: *opening the cupboard* “Would you like a cup of tea?”

Me: *surprised* “Oh, uh… Yes, please!”

Librarian: “Well, we have green tea, some strawberry lemonade, earl grey… What would you like dear?”

Me: *still astonished* “Earl grey is black tea, right? That sounds good.”

Librarian: “All right, then!”

(She put a mugful of water in the microwave to heat up, then gave me the tea box and made sure I knew where the honey and stirring sticks were before going back to her duties. After a few minutes, I was sipping my tea — warm as my heart was by this point — and reading the graphic novel, and I thought about all the mean things my classmates had said about [Librarian] that they would never even dare to suggest if they knew how sweet and grandmotherly she was once you really got to know her. Not only did she and [Librarian’s Assistant] care about me and my well being, but [Librarian] always thanked me for my work when I walked out the door, despite the fact that I was obligated by the school rules to show up and do all tasks asked of me! I’m pretty busy this year, but I still stop by the library to say hi to those ladies, and whenever I hear someone saying something snippy about [Librarian] in passing, I scoff to myself and think about that cup of tea.)

Drunk Spunk

, , , , , | Learning | April 12, 2019

(In forensic science, we’re doing our toxicology unit. The last couple of days have been specifically about alcohol. Alcohol will go anywhere in your body that you have liquid, even crossing the blood-brain barrier. When I tell classes that, inevitably, some boy raises his hand.)

Student: “Does it get in your… y’know… your semen?”

Me: “Yes. Semen has liquid, so alcohol can get in there.”

Student: “So, is it possible for your sperm cells to get drunk and get lost and not be able to find where they’re going? Oh, is that why some babies are born messed up from alcohol?”

We All Need A Daylight Savings Week

, , , , , | Learning | April 11, 2019

(I’m in class at 2:27 pm, and my teacher is giving a test. It’s almost over.)

Teacher: “Right, you have ten more minutes.”

(He writes 1:27 on the board plus 10 equals 1:37.)

Classmate: “It’s 2, not 1.”

(The teacher looks at her and then at the board, sighs, and fixes his mistake.)

Classmate: “Daylight savings time, remember?”

Teacher: “Did that happen this week?”

(Later, he is explaining his two extra credit assignments, which are to go to events and write quick papers about them.)

Teacher: “This one is happening tomorrow, March 27th. This one is happening this Friday, April 5th.”

Class: “That’s next Friday.”

Teacher: *looks at them and then looks closer at the date* “Oh, it’s next week. I’m an hour behind and a week behind!”

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