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.

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Set Your Expectations Higher

, , , , , , , , | Learning | April 15, 2021

I briefly worked as a teacher in one of the worst schools in the country. There were all kinds of social problems, including rampant drug abuse. One of the pupils decided to smoke cannabis to calm himself down before an exam; unfortunately, he smoked a rather large amount, so he was barely conscious when he filed into the exam hall.

Some minutes in, the teacher invigilating the exam observed that the boy’s exam paper had fallen on the floor and he was busily writing on the table. There was some anxiety as to whether this might mean that the table would have to be sent in to be marked, but thankfully, on examination — pun definitely intended — it was ascertained that what he had written on the table had nothing whatsoever to do with the exam paper or even its subject.

That was good, because the exam board would not have appreciated having a tabletop sent in for marking.

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Notes? That Sounds Like Work!

, , , , | Learning | April 14, 2021

I teach people to use various computer programs. There are usually some official manuals for these courses, but once in a while, important information is not in there.

Today, I’m teaching a group of high school teachers. They all have been issued the manual, as well as a legal pad and a pen. One of the subjects required by their employer is not covered by the manual.

I tell them that and that I will write it down on the flip chart. I cover the subject slowly and put every step on the flip chart. I am careful to use colors to make sure they understand where they have to substitute their names and information and where there are pitfalls to avoid. The resulting instruction has six steps, and while I put them down, there is some moaning.

At the end, one of the participants huffs in indignation.

Participant: “How am I supposed to remember all these steps!”

I am somewhat perplexed.

Me: “Well, you could write them down?”

There were more moans. I wonder if those teachers occasionally complain about their lazy and stupid students.

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Never Be Afraid To Defend Your Name!

, , , , | Learning | April 10, 2021

[Friend #1] is half Turkish and fairly shy and quiet, and her name is somewhat unusual and has four syllables. We’ve got a new PE teacher who’s from Australia, going by her accent, and has a surname that’s quite typical in the UK but pronounced differently in Australia. She makes a point to highlight that it’s pronounced differently and there will be punishment if we get it wrong. She does the register, and [Friend #1] is near the start.

PE Teacher: “[Unknown Two-Syllable Name]?”

There’s no response.

PE Teacher: “Is she not here?”

Classmate #1: “Never heard of her before, Miss.”

PE Teacher: “[Unknown Two-Syllable Name] [Friend #1’s Surname]?”

Friend #1: *Quietly* “Oh, sorry. Here. My name is [Friend #1].”

The teacher doesn’t notice but continues on. She also butchers an Irish classmate’s name, which said classmate loudly corrects. The lesson starts, and every time she refers to [Friend #1], she calls out the two-syllable name instead. [Friend #1] corrects her quietly every time, but the teacher still doesn’t pay attention. It’s about halfway through and she’s gotten the name wrong about six times now.

PE Teacher: “[Two-Syllable Name].”

Me: *Snapping* “Her name is [Friend #1]! It’s not hard!”

PE Teacher: “Don’t talk to me like that!”

Me: “Don’t repeatedly get someone’s name wrong! She’s told you how her name is pronounced. Get it right!”

PE Teacher: “Well, I pronounce it like [Two-Syllable Name], as that’s the way Australia pronounces it!”

Friend #2: “And? She’s Turkish, not Australian, and we’re in the UK, not Australia. Even then, she pronounces it [Friend #1] and that’s all that matters!”

PE Teacher: “I will pronounce it [Two-Syllable Name] as that is the correct way!”

The class is silent.

PE Teacher: “Nobody correct me again, understand?”

Irish Classmate: “Yes, Miss [UK Pronunciation].”

PE Teacher: “My name is Miss [Australian Pronunciation]!”

Classmate #3: *Catching on quickly* “Yeah, but we pronounce it [UK pronunciation], and as we’re in the UK, I’d say that was the correct way.”

PE Teacher: “It’s not the correct way!”

Classmate #1: “It’s just as correct as you calling [Friend #1] by [Two-Syllable Name].”

Irish Classmate: Sucks when people don’t bother to learn your name, doesn’t it?”

We all started to do it until the teacher stormed off. We continued doing PE with the guidance of [Classmate #1], who was also taking sport studies as an extracurricular, until another PE teacher — who’s Indian — came over as he saw we were missing a teacher. We were told not to worry about anything after we explained, and we ended up finishing the lesson with the other class since we couldn’t be left unsupervised. It turned out that she had been repeatedly pronouncing names how she wanted, stating it was the Australian way — including the Indian PE teacher’s name. She didn’t last long.

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

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Should’ve Had Better Brain Filters

, , , , , | Learning | CREDIT: Zeldaspellfactory | April 8, 2021

Many years ago, my oldest child was in junior high. He took a computer class his first year in junior high. His teacher was interesting. On Parent-Teacher Night, she announced to all the students and parents that if a child in her class could hack the school’s Internet filters, they would get an automatic A for the entire year in the class. She even had this printed up on handouts she gave us parents.

My oldest child can be a challenge. I never wanted to be one of his schoolteachers. He just thinks of the most random things to do and then does them without thinking of consequences. (Thankfully, he has mostly grown out of this!) I could tell that my son was going to take her up on this “offer”/challenge. He was good enough with computers that I was pretty sure he could do it.

I warned the teacher that the school district did NOT want students hacking the Internet filters, especially not my son. Who knows what he would find that I didn’t want to know about?

Less than two weeks later, I was called up to the school on very little notice. My son was going to be expelled. That was all the info I had before I got to the school. I had a feeling it was about the computer class, so I brought in the handout the teacher gave out on Parent-Teacher Night.

I was right. He had hacked the Internet filters successfully, and because of this, the school was going to expel him. Permanently.

I had quite the chat with the principal. He was completely shocked that the teacher had challenged the students this way but claimed it didn’t matter because the school had rules that my son should have known. He was flabbergasted when I called the Superintendent of Schools for our city. He was more shocked when I chatted with him on a first-name basis. It might have been an entitled thing to do but messing with my kids brings out my inner Mama Bear.

My son did not get expelled; he didn’t get punished in any way, mostly because the teacher was an absolute idiot. I later learned that this was not the first time she had issued this challenge, nor the first time a student was able to do it. She had been warned not to do it again, ever, and she had ignored that.

They had a new teacher in under a week, because you are just not smart enough to teach school if you openly challenge kids to hack the school’s filters.

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