Re-emergence Of The Contrarian Librarian

, , , , , | Learning | July 14, 2018

(I am a substitute teacher. Most teachers leave strict rules for me to follow, but even if the lesson plan is vague, I never let kids leave the classroom without a call from the office. My only exception is going to the library. I was allowed this as a student, and I think encouraging literacy is paramount. But then, this happens at a middle school.)

Sixth Grader #1: “Miss, I’m done with my work. Can I play on the computer?”

Me: “Your teacher said you must either do your work or complete work from another class. I will allow you to read, on the honor system, if you are done with school work.”

Sixth Grader #1: “But I don’t have a book.”

Me: “Okay, you may take the hall pass and go the library. Since it’s right outside this wing, you can have ten minutes.”

(Several other students want to go, so I allow the original and a second to go, saying the others can go in twos when they come back. Ten minutes later, they return with books and sit down, and I send out the next group. They come back after only five minutes with no books.)

Me: “Didn’t find anything to read?”

Sixth Grader #2: “No ma’am, the librarian spotted us and wanted to know what we were doing. When we told her, she asked how the other two had checked out books, because she hadn’t seen anyone.”

Me: “What?!”

(I turn to the first two who are reading books.)

Me: “Did the librarian check out those books to you?”

Sixth Grader #1: “What does that mean?”

Me: *flabbergasted* “When you went into the library, what did you do? Did you see another teacher or an adult?”

Sixth Grader #1: “We went in, saw a stack of books, each took one, and came back.”

Me: “Oh, dear God, you stole books?!”

(I then ask all the students in the class how they thought libraries work. Imagine my shock when not one of these sixth graders knows that to get a book from the library, you have to have a librarian sign it out of the system for you, or that you must return the books. I explain the process to them, and take back the books from the other students to return later. But the story doesn’t end there. The books they have “stolen” are Pre-K level, barely ten pages long. When I visit the library on my break to explain, I have this conversation with the librarian.)

Me: “Have the children not had a class on the library yet?”

Librarian: “The students do not have classes in the library, or about the library.”

Me: “Why is that? And why are these books for toddlers, not middle-schoolers?”

Librarian: “The students struggle to read big books, so we have books on their level. And we don’t allow them in the library, because they will destroy the books.”

Me: “Wait, not only are the books way below level, but they can’t even come in here? What kind of a place are you running?!”

Librarian: “I don’t appreciate your tone, ma’am! I work hard; I’ll have you know I’m in here every other week. Most schools can only get a librarian in once a month!”

Me: “My God, it’s the Apocalypse.”

(This is why I’m looking for a job outside of education, instead of moving from sub to full-time. I don’t want to teach kids to NOT read!)

The Inattentiveness Of The Contrarian Librarian
Attack Of The Contrarian Librarian
Fall Of The Contrarian Librarian

The Studious Dead

, , , , , | Learning | July 10, 2018

(It is near the end of the year in middle school before we take the state tests. We have a great English teacher who is giving us fun essay prompts so that we can enjoy test prep more, since it’s pretty boring. These assignments are graded. The prompt today is for us to practice our persuasive essay writing, with an essay on whether or not humans could survive a zombie apocalypse. We are an “enriched” class, so, following the stereotype, most of us are really nerdy and have a lot of fun discussing the topic and writing about it. One student in my class who is known for complaining starts up. She complains every day, and has even yelled at our teacher on multiple occasions.)

Class: *talking quietly amongst ourselves and writing*

Student: *in a loud an obnoxious voice and standing up* “Mrs. [Teacher], the prompt is unrealistic. I don’t want to do it. A zombie apocalypse is never going to happen, so it doesn’t matter if we would survive or not.”

Class: *goes quiet*

Teacher: *about done with her complaints at this point* “[Student], your idea that complaining will help you pass the state test is unrealistic. Sit down and start writing, or if you really don’t want to do it, then take an F. I’m trying to make this fun for you guys.”

Student: “I can’t take an F. I need straight As to keep my honor roll streak, but this assignment is stupid and I’m not doing it.”

Teacher: “Well, if you don’t do it, you get an F, and if you keep complaining, you can leave. Neither is going to get you on the honor roll, though, [Student].”

Student: “That’s not fair. This is so stupid.”

Teacher: “Life isn’t fair. Now, you can either sit quietly and do your work, or take an F and leave.” *calmly sits back into her chair watching*

Student: “UGH!” *sits down and pouts*

Teacher: *smiles to herself at her victory*

(I love this teacher.)

A Physical Education

, , , , , , , | Learning | July 7, 2018

(I was always a clumsy kid, and as such, I’ve experienced my fair share of broken bones. Sixth grade is the first time I’ve ever needed crutches, and, because I am smaller and am considered “weird” by the other kids, I have been dealing with a lot of bullying. A boy steals one of my crutches during gym class for the second time in a week and humiliates me by poking me with it and telling me to chase him for it while the class laughs. I end up in the office, filing an incident report, and it is far from the first I’ve ever filled out.)

Administrator: “Honey, has this been going on for awhile?”

(I nod, still in tears.)

Administrator: “Okay, listen up, baby girl. Next time that boy tries to take your crutch, you have my full permission to take the other one and smack him upside his head with it. Nobody should be treating anybody like that.”

(I was stunned. When the kid got back from in-school suspension two days later, he tried to do it again, calling me “a little snitch b****.” I did what I was told to do, though I missed and ended up hitting him across his backside. He started to cry, and his mother came in the next day to complain, but was promptly told that it was done in self-defence and that he had been harassing me for months before this. The mother threatened legal action, but never went through with it, and the boy never bothered me again. I loved that administrator for sticking her neck out for me.)

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Your Personal Introduction To Plagiarism

, , , , , | Learning | June 29, 2018

My middle school has two periods dedicated to English: reading and writing. Both are taught by the same teacher. She is not very popular with my class, for many reasons.

One assignment in our writing class is to research and write an essay on a current event. We start out by writing a rough draft. I compile a decent enough body for the paper, filled with lots of quotes about the event I chose, but the part I am particularly proud of is the original introduction I wrote for the paper. I spent a good amount of time on it until I was finally happy with it.

The day after we print off and turn in our rough drafts, out teacher starts the class by lecturing us on plagiarism, stating that she received an obviously plagiarized paper. She then reads this “plagiarized” paper in the most condescending voice I have ever heard, and by the first sentence, I realized that she is reading my paper.

She finishes mockingly reading my introduction, and says that she knows it is plagiarized because no middle-schooler could write that well. She passes back the papers and we are sent to revise our drafts, but she doesn’t say anything else to me. I am quite obviously upset, and not really working on my paper, since my heart isn’t in it.

I later learn that she didn’t even run it through a plagiarism checker before deeming it plagiarized. Later, after a private confrontation, she did accept that I had written the introduction, and had not taken it from another source, but I despised her for the rest of my middle school career.

There’s Something About That Substitute

, , , , , | Learning | June 8, 2018

(My classmates and I are about ten or eleven years old. Our band teacher is absent for the day, so we have a substitute, a young guy somewhere in his twenties. The classroom has a TV and DVD player that the teacher uses to show us music performances. The sub offers to let us vote on a movie to watch, which he brought with him. The majority chooses “There’s Something About Mary,” a film I hadn’t even heard of. Being naive and rather innocent, all of the adult and raunchy humor flies right over my head, leaving me mostly confused. At the end of the day I go my mom’s office; she works at the school.)

Mom: *working at the computer* “So, did anything interesting happen today?”

Me: “Not really. We got to watch a movie in band, since the teacher was sick.”

Mom: “Oh? What did you watch?”

Me: “It was weird; its name was something about Mary.”

Mom: *pauses in her work and turns to look at me*There’s Something About Mary?”

Me: “Yeah, that sounds right. I didn’t get what was happening, but the other boys thought it was funny.”

Mom: *fuming* “Do you know the substitute’s name?”

Me: *feeling her anger, and getting nervous* “Uh, no. I don’t remember his name. He was young, long hair, glasses…”

(She stood up and stormed out of the room, directly to the principal’s office. Apparently, I got the guy fired and banned from being hired by the district as a sub. Even today, I feel kind of bad for costing the guy his job. I swear, I was not intentionally tattling!)

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