Munchkin On Steroids

, , , | | Learning | July 20, 2019

(My husband is a very large, hatchet-faced retired Marine with huge hands and feet. He teaches at a small K-8 rural school. He is a kind and funny man but rather formal with people he doesn’t know, and he can be a little intimidating, especially as it’s common knowledge among the staff and parents that he’s a combat veteran. One day he is standing in the cafeteria with another teacher and the superintendent of schools, waiting on the children to come back inside from an activity.)

Other Teacher: “Did you see that [Small Girl] brought a treat for the rest of her class?”

Superintendent: “What did she bring?”

Other Teacher: “Lollipops!”

(As if on signal, my husband begins to sing and dance the Lollipop Guild song from “The Wizard Of Oz” movie. He finishes just before the kids hit the door.)

Husband: “And in the name of the Lollipop guild… we’d like to welcome you to Munchkin Land!”

(He then snaps back into his normal unsmiling, stern mode as the students stream past.)

Superintendent: “That… was the most incredible thing I’ve seen this year.”

Other Teacher: “Yes, but you know that nobody is going to believe us!”

Sending All The Lefties To China

, , , , , , | | Learning | July 12, 2019

(For one year, I work as a foreign English teacher in China. I am an American. I have an impairment to the right side of my body that makes it somewhat difficult to do many tasks with my right hand; as such, I’ve learned to use my left hand for pretty much everything. The city I am living in is one of their larger ones, but it hasn’t quite westernized as much as other cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. As such, they tend to be more traditional and many people think it’s improper to write with one’s left hand. Here are some of the responses I receive while in China. This is a common response when I have a new class of beginning-level students in the seven- to ten-year-old group when they notice me writing on the board with my left hand:)

Students: *frantically pointing at their left hands* “Teacher! Teacher! Teacher! No… this!”

(Something like this happens with new students who have a higher level of English. It is still one of the seven- to ten-year-old classes; the older kids aren’t bothered by it and the younger ones are too young to notice.)

Student: “Teacher, why do you write with your left hand?”

Me: “Why do you write with your right hand?”

Student: *confused* “Because… everyone else writes with their right hand.”

(The only time I get frustrated with a middle-level class of the same age group. It is my first time teaching them; I am just covering for their main teacher since he can’t be there that day. He is naturally left-handed, so I don’t expect them to have any issue with me. Suddenly, after about a third of the way through the class, they start chattering in Chinese and one student yells and runs up to me and yanks my left arm away from the board.)

Student #1: “No! No!”

(I look at the other students and they are all pointing at their left hands and shaking their heads.)

Me: “Are you serious!? Are you serious!? [Regular Teacher] is left-handed!”

Student #2: *sincerely* “No! [Regular Teacher] is right!”

Me: “You’re crazy! He’s more left-handed than I am!”

(I guessed they never noticed somehow? After my last class of the afternoon, two of my students and their parents are hanging out with me. I write something on the board to show my student something. Her father speaks English very well.)

Student’s Father: “Oh! So in America, you all write with your left hand?”

Me: “No, no, just about ten percent of us.”

(Sometimes our company contracts us out to a private elementary school for mornings before our normal classes. I walk past a first-grade girl writing with her left hand, and she looks up at me and quickly puts her pen into her right hand.)

Me: “No, no, it’s okay.”

(I take her pen and put it back into her left hand and pat her head before giving her a friendly nod.)

Student: *hesitantly returns to writing with her left hand*

(The weirdest reaction wasn’t from a student. I was at a small restaurant eating some noodles when a strange woman came up to my side and took the chopsticks from my left hand and tried to stick them into my right hand. I gently shooed her away and grabbed a new pair out of the holder at my table. She seemed friendly looking; I think she was just trying to help the confused foreigner who didn’t know how to eat the “right way.”)

Whatever You Do, DON’T Show Her “Wall-E”

, , , , | | Learning | July 11, 2019

(My eleventh-grade sociology teacher is terrified of any and all roaches. She even keeps a meter stick, called the “Holy Spirit Stick,” for others to kill them. We are talking about our fears and what we would do when facing them. We talk about clowns, spiders, heights, and then my teacher with roaches. She explains to us what she would do.)

Teacher: “I would run. I’m leaving you all here. Every man for himself. You deal with it. I can’t be in the same room as one.”

Student: “What about your kids?”

Teacher: “Nope, I’m leaving them. I hate roaches. A lot. They survive everything. They’re unkillable. Plus, they fly.”

A Sadly Familiar Pattern

, , , , , | | Learning | July 9, 2019

I went to a private school from second through seventh grade. Each year, my school and the nearby private schools held a competition called Math Olympics. Basically, it was a Saturday where you took a math test against people in your grade, and people got ribbons for the top five scores.

I placed second in third grade, and was all prepared when the time came around in fourth grade. Like a spelling bee, there was a qualification round during class one day, where two “olympiads” and two alternates would be chosen.

The teacher passed out our tests during math time, but as people started getting to the last problem, she found that many people were asking for help. She went around just repeating, “Number 20 is a pattern,” to anyone with their hand up, dealing with other questions if they were on a different problem.

By the time my tablemate got to problem 20, I had already turned in my paper and picked up my book to read. He put his hand up, having been too involved in the first 19 problems to catch what the teacher had been saying, but there was a note on the board saying that she’d give a hint about it.

After what felt like a long time without the teacher coming over, he started waving his hand, trying to get attention. Eventually, he made small sounds when she walked by, which she did at least three times after I started paying attention. It was annoying, so I just leaned over and said, “Number 20 is a pattern.”

That, the teacher noticed. She snatched the boy’s test off the table before he could even pick up his pencil again, and told us both to stay in the room while everyone else went to lunch.

We sat there, alone, long enough to take our lunch boxes from the backpack area, eat lunch, and throw away our trash before our teacher brought back the principal.

The principal took us one at a time to tell her what happened, and I told her the truth of the situation — that the teacher had promised everyone a hint, but was ignoring my tablemate, so I told him exactly what she had been telling everyone else.

Despite explaining myself as best I could, it was deemed cheating, so neither of us were allowed to compete. I went on to win first place in later years, but I still find it unfair that I got labeled a cheater for that.

Say Aloha To This Class

, , , , , | | Learning | July 7, 2019

I started college in 2001. My first semester was when the infamous 9/11 terrorist attack occurred. I remember being very distracted for obvious reasons that morning but still went to a nine am nutrition class, where surprisingly, the professor still held a lecture. I don’t even remember what she said, as we were all listening to events unfolding as news was posted. Later, the campus was evacuated due to safety protocols. 

Later that year, my father decided to surprise us and take the family on vacation to Hawaii! We were all very excited, and we planned to leave the week before Christmas. As this would be my finals week, I worked out alternatives with all my professors. All were happy to accommodate this, which was very kind…

…except for the nutrition professor. Her answer was no. Unless I was there for the day of the final, there was nothing I could do. I told her I understood, and that without the final I would have a B, which was more than fine with me. She kept repeating that my grade would drop if I wasn’t there as if I somehow didn’t understand this. I kept repeating that I was accepting of this outcome and was going to Hawaii. She was furious that my priority was to spend time with my family rather than in her class which I only took because it was a general requirement.

Go figure, lady. Your class isn’t more important than my holiday or terrorist attacks.

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