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A Mono-Track Mind

, , , , , , | Learning | May 3, 2021

In my freshman year of high school, I have some pretty bad luck with my health early on in the year. Somehow, I manage to catch strep and tonsillitis AT THE SAME TIME, so I miss about two weeks of school. I am okay for a while after the full course of antibiotics, but I start feeling sick and groggy again pretty quickly so I go back to the doctor. This time, I have mono. Not only that, but I have TWO DIFFERENT STRAINS of mono.

My school, in their infinite wisdom, says I can’t miss any more days or I’ll have to repeat the semester. Great. So I try to just power through, which is made more difficult by the fact that my first class of the day was algebra.

I’m sitting in class, nodding off HARD while trying to pay attention and take notes, pinching my arm black and blue trying to stay awake. Eventually, I decide to take a ten-second power nap to try and recharge a little bit. I close my eyes and count to one…

Teacher: *Shaking my shoulder gently* “[My Name]?”

Me: *Groggy* “Huh?”

Teacher: “Your pencil’s still moving, but your head’s been down for ten minutes.”

Me: “What?!”

I look at my desk and see pencil scribbles everywhere.

Me: “Oh, my God, I’m so sorry. I’m trying to pay attention, I swear I am…”

I frantically try to clean up the scribbles and grab the desk when I get dizzy.

Teacher: *Concerned* “[My Name], you look like h***. What’s wrong?”

Me: “I’m sorry, I have mono.”

Teacher: *Shocked* “What?! What are you doing in school? You should be at home resting!”

Me: “I’d love to be, but the office said I can’t miss any more school since I missed so much last month.”

My teacher is silent for a moment, clearly angry.

Teacher: “Put your head back down and go to sleep. I’ll print the notes for you. Do you need, I don’t know, water or something? Anything I can get you?”

Me: “I’m okay. Are you sure?”

Teacher: “I’m sure. Go to sleep.”

I thanked him and went to sleep. I genuinely don’t remember the rest of the day, or most of the recovery period, but when I got home my parents had gotten a VERY apologetic call from the office saying that I could stay home until I was better and my teachers would email me notes and assignments. Turns out my algebra teacher had gone to the office and demanded an explanation as to why one of his students was being forced to attend class when they were too ill to even stay awake and the vice-principal, who was awesome and way better than the principal, hadn’t heard about this and demanded an explanation, as well. I might hate math, but that was the absolute best math teacher I ever had!


This story is part of our Best Of May 2021 roundup!

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Get With The Times Or Pay The Fines

, , , , , , | Learning | April 18, 2021

My mother is a long-serving special needs teacher with almost thirty years of experience in the field. After serving in a number of schools, she has spent the last decade and more as an advisory teacher who travels around schools helping them to give appropriate assistance to pupils with disabilities and other educational needs. A lot of what she does involves issuing laptop computers to children who need them, something not all schools seem to understand.

She has been called out to a school that has a headmaster with rather old-fashioned ideas to assess a pupil with motor control issues. Her assessment is that he needs a laptop to enable him to complete his work. She reports this to the headmaster.

Headmaster: “Oh, no. You see, handwriting is one of our key skills here, so we will not allow him to use a computer.”

Mother: *Bluntly* “Well, then, I’ll have to report you to the Equalities Commission.”

Headmaster: *Gasping* “W-WHAT?!”

Mother: “The law says that you must make reasonable provision for pupils with disabilities. You are telling me that you are going to refuse to do that, which means I have no option but to report you to the Equalities Commission.”

Oddly enough, he decided to change his school policy there and then.

A Tale Of Malicious Compliance And Petty Revenge

, , , , , | Learning | March 10, 2021

There once was a university that made a person dean of a school. This person was unqualified for the post, knew it, and consequently overcompensated with power trips and micromanagement.

When one person didn’t reply to one of his emails quickly enough, he instituted a rule — in a school-wide email — that all emails must have a response sent to all concerned parties, preferably immediately, but at any rate within one business day.

A humble and obedient faculty member began following the policy to the letter. Every email received had responses sent to all concerned parties within one business day. Of course, a simple “reply all” takes care of the “all concerned parties” clause. However, a non-faculty person would be surprised how many department-wide, school-wide, and university-wide emails the average faculty member receives in a day.

Within two days, said humble and obedient faculty member was receiving emails requesting, then begging, and in some cases demanding that they stop replying all to fill-in-the-blank-wide emails. In each case, the requestor/beggar/demander received a prompt reply, explaining the policy and attaching the original email.

The policy lasted approximately four more days. The new dean lasted approximately four more semesters.

Some Bosses Have No Principals

, , , , , , | Healthy | January 4, 2021

I teach high school, and I am going through an unknown medical ailment for which I am undergoing a battery of tests. This happens over text, as I’m updating my principal as to what is going on.

Me: “I’ve just finished with my spinal tap. They said I can work, but I may end up with a debilitating headache, so would someone be able to cover my class if I need to go lay down for an hour? Or should I just take the day off?”

Boss: “It’s too hard to find a sub. If you need it, we will find someone to cover your class.”

A few hours later, I get a call from my doctor. I’m told to check myself into the ER based on the results of my spinal tap. I text the principal again.

Me: “I’m sorry, but I can’t come in tomorrow after all. I’m currently at the hospital; my doctor told me to go to the ER immediately when he got the results of my spinal tap.”

Boss: “Seriously? You know how hard it is to find subs. You’ve put me in a very difficult spot here. When will you be back?”

Me: “I can’t tell you. I haven’t been told anything besides, ‘Check yourself into the ER,’ at this point. I’m guessing it’s going to be at least a couple of days.”

Boss: “I hope you know what a terrible inconvenience this is for us. You know we have a hard time getting subs, and especially at this late notice and without any information, it’s going to be difficult to cover your time off. You’ve already taken off a good portion of this year and now you’re taking off more time?”

I recently gave birth to my first child and took maternity leave. At this point, I’m sobbing, terrified of not knowing what’s medically wrong with me, and feeling terrible for having to take off because of my boss’s comments. It takes my husband an hour to calm me down.

For the record, I wound up in the hospital for nearly a week and went back to work with an IV still in my arm for continued treatment at home. I was not sad at all when I left after that year ended. And no, my boss never so much as asked me how I was doing at any point through the entire ordeal.

Not Just Blowing Our Own Horns Here

, , , , , , | Learning | December 31, 2020

I am a music teacher at a high school in the US; specifically, I teach the band. Due to the health crisis, all of my students sit six feet apart and use hand sanitizer at the beginning and end of the period, but apparently, this isn’t enough for some people.

One day, near the beginning of the school year, I have this conversation with the principal.

Principal: “Your students need to wear masks during class.”

I laugh and think he’s joking, because… really?

Principal: “I’m serious. You need to make them keep their masks on. It’s a health hazard.”

Me: “They can’t. It’s band. They cannot play their instruments with masks on.”

Principal: “You aren’t trying hard enough to find a solution. This is important.”

Me: “Look. The orchestra wears masks when they play. You’ve somehow convinced the choir teacher to have students wear masks while they’re singing. But the band cannot play with masks on.”

Principal: “You just need to try harder!”

By now, I’m fed up. I tell him to wait for a minute and I get my flute. I come back and take my mask off for a moment.

Me: “Listen to this.”

I play a long note and then put my mask back on.

Me: “Now listen to this.”

I raise the flute again and blow, but, to the surprise of absolutely no one with two or more brain cells, there is no sound. I see a look of understanding dawn in his eyes.

Principal: “I, uh, see.”

He walked away sheepishly.


This story is part of our Music In Our Schools roundup! This is the last story in the roundup, but we have plenty of others you might enjoy!

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